Ahead of the biggest day of the season in the play off quarter final second leg against Dunfermline, tonight was the showing of the biggest night in the Raith Rovers Calendar – the Player of the Year Awards!
Once again, for the second year in a row, COVID put paid to the players, management, staff, and supporters getting together for the annual night at the Dean Park Hotel, so it was onto Plan B, Plan C and finally Plan D as restrictions have progressed and changed in the last few months.
We filmed the 2019/20 awards remotely, but this year we did manage to get the squad together to collect their awards. To get everyone together for an awards ceremony in a covid – compliant manner was a new challenge – outdoor filming, social distancing, face coverings, wind, rain, trains, traffic and even the kids playing on the Starks Park surface added to a unique event.
The event was filmed at Starks Park in April. The organisers were armed with a bag of hand sanitiser, face coverings and wipes – not your usual essential items for the Awards Night.
With the players all seated in a socially distanced manner in the McDermid Stand, the hosts for the event, Niall Russell (Raith Rovers Media Officer & RaithTV stalwart) and Steve Wallace (Player of the Year Awards Committee Chairman & Raith Trust board member) kicked off the awards in the blustering wind and rain – with John McGlynn on hand to talk us through why each player deserved their award.
The awards were spread across 6 different players this year, with Goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald winning two awards. Jamie picked up awards selected by Rovers Manager John McGlynn – Managers Player of the Year (sponsored by the Raith Hall of Fame) and Best Individual Performance Award (sponsored by Fife’s Finest) for his terrific display in the 3-2 win away against Hearts at Tynecastle.
Regan Hendry also won a brace of awards, both voted for by the Rovers supporters in the online votes. Firstly, Regan won Goal of the Season (sponsored by the Raith Trust) for finishing off the terrific opening team goal against Dunfermline in the 5-1 win. Regan also won the Supporters Player of the Year (sponsored by the Supporters Club).
Dylan Tait was the recipient of the award for Young Player of the Year (sponsored by The 200 Club) and was selected to receive the trophy after a great second full season in the Rovers midfield.
Lewis Vaughan picked up this years Malcolm Szpera Award. An award sponsored by the Szpera Family and Rovers Down South, this continues the memory of Rovers supporter the late Malcolm Szpera and recognises players that have had to overcome adversity. With the injuries that Lewis has overcome in the last few years this made him a worthy winner of this award.
Reghan Tumilty picked up the Fife Free Press Starcheck Award (chosen and sponsored by the Fife Free Press) for his consistently impressive displays at fullback in his debut Rovers season, playing all but a few minutes of every game in the season so far.
In a tightly contested vote with 3 leading contenders for the coveted award of Players’ Player of the Year (sponsored by The Jim McMillan Club) Club captain Kyle Benedictus was the player voted as Player of the Year by the Rovers playing squad for a series of excellent displays of skill and leadership in the heart of the Rovers defence.
Outstanding Service Award
There was one final and special award to be made. In a year when supporters have not been able to get to Starks Park to see the team, we have all become so reliant on the coverage, interviews, and features from the RaithTV team. These guys have done a superb job for several seasons, but over the last year they have absolutely stepped up the quality of coverage, commentary and much more. This team of volunteers all hugely deserved to be given an Outstanding Service Award.
Congratulations to the Raith TV team: Jackie Chalmers, Ian Grieve, Davie Hancock, Jim Harvey, Neil Ingebrigtsen and Niall Russell.
Vote of Thanks
So many people pulled together to make these awards happen, and we need to thank John McGlynn, Paul Smith, the players and backroom staff for their support and time.
Thanks to the RaithTV team for filming and producing an excellent production, the Player of the Year Planning Committee for all their hard work and Zoom calls to bring this together.
Sincere Thanks go to the Raith Rovers Supporters groups for sponsoring the awards and of course, to the Rovers Supporters for voting for two of the awards.
And to anyone else that helped make these awards happen in challenging circumstances, Thank You.
Hopefully, we’ll all be back together at the Dean Park Hotel at the end of next season for the 2021/22 Awards.
The full Awards show can be watched here: