More than 150 guests attended a glitzy black-tie event to celebrate the end of the season at Plymouth Albion.
Sponsored by Black Rock Beach Resort, the players’ awards dinner recognised and highlighted the club’s achievements during the 2017/18 season.
With a second successive top three finish in National League One, head coach Kieran Hallett was delighted with his team’s performances and resilience. He said: “It has been a tough season with a few ups and downs but I think the way we pulled together as a squad to get through the adversity we faced has been the biggest highlight.
“Seeing the guys welcome younger players and accept them into the fold showed the strength of the bond within the squad and that is something tangible for us to further improve on next year.”
Eight player awards in total were announced on the night and presented by Hallett in front of an audience of players, directors, staff, sponsors, supporters and corporate guests.
Best Try of the Year, sponsored by Plymouth City Bus, was awarded to centre Dean Squire for his score against Hull Ionians during Albion’s 29-3 bonus point victory at Brickfields in December. Albion stunned the visitors off a line-out deep in their half and swung the ball out fast and wide, leaving Squire to run around his opposite number and score Albion’s crucial bonus point try.
Also sponsored by Plymouth City Bus was the award for Clubman of the Year. This was picked up by back row forward Eoghan Grace in recognition of his hard work for the club both on and off the field. Grace has been instrumental within the club’s community department, taking rugby and its core values into schools across Plymouth and delivering holiday camps at Brickfields to youngsters aged six to 16 years.
Fellow flanker Dan Williams was named Most Inspiring / Motivating Player of the Year – an award sponsored by Hartley Dental. Williams was sidelined for much of the season with a subscapularis tear in his shoulder but returned to action in February and took over the number eight shirt and captaincy in the absence of the injured Herbie Stupple.
Hallett describes the 29-year-old father-of-two as a natural leader: “He is one of those guys who, whether captain or not, will always lead from the front.”
Prop forward Dan Pullinger received the Players’ Player of the Year Award, sponsored by Steak & Omelette, while the Coaches’ Player of the Year was sponsored by Paramount 21 Ltd and awarded to hooker Jamie Salter.
Luke Chapman picked up two awards – Most Improved Player of the Year, sponsored by Plymouth Performance Gym, and the Captain’s Cup, sponsored by Kioo Marketing.
The final award of the night, sponsored by CE Consult, was the Albion Award for the player that consistently portrays the characteristics that define what it means to be an Albion player, namely excellence in performance, work rate, honesty, accountability and adaptability. The winner of this special accolade was Dean Squire.
The event served as a fitting finale to an arduous season that involved an unprecedented five postponed fixtures – away at Birmingham Moseley and home against Bishop’s Stortford, Rosslyn Park and Loughborough students – twice! As a result, players, coaches and staff fulfilled an extended season which culminated in Albion’s bonus point victory over Loughborough Students on May 12 to secure third place.
The event was also supported by Champion Butchers, James Kittow Butchers, Tamar Fresh and Tolchards.