Craig leads the way with three awards

Whitley Bay FC's Craig McFarlane receives the Brian Oakley Goal of the Season Award from manager Ian Chandler.
Whitley Bay FC's Craig McFarlane receives the Brian Oakley Goal of the Season Award from manager Ian Chandler.
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WHITLEY Bay FC held their annual presentation night at the Seahorse Clubhouse on Saturday with Craig McFarlane toping the honours and collecting three awards.

McFarlane, usually a midfielder or defender whose versatility has led to him playing in almost every position other than goalkeeper, was voted by both the players and supporters as their Player of the Year.

He also won the Brian Oakley Award for goal of the season, which he scored in the 3-0 win at South Shields.

Paul Chow was chosen as Club Player of the Season, receiving the Sid Cope Trophy, named in memory of the club president and presented by Sid’s son David.

The striker also won the Billy Wright Award for the leading goalscorer, while keeper Kyle Hayes was named Young Player of the Year.

Terry Burke, who retired at the end of last season after playing a total of 416 games for the club and was man of the match at Wembley, received a special award in recognition of his long service and outstanding achievements from Betty Cope, Sid’s widow.

The club also received the BBC Newcastle Team of the Year Trophy.

Club chairman Paul McIlduff praised the players, manager Ian Chandler and his backroom staff for the record-breaking achievements of the 2010-11 season, when Whitley won the FA Vase for an unprecedented third year in a row, making them the most successful team in the history of the competition.

And in appreciation of the support given by the club’s fans, McIlduff gave the Chairman’s Award to the Club supporters.

The club are now preparing for the new season and on Saturday play their first game at Hillheads since defeating Coalville Town in the FA Vase Final at Wembley two months ago.

The game will be a unique and attractive event as they take on Hoddesdon Town from Hertfordshire, who were the first ever FA Vase winners in 1975 when the competition replaced the old FA Amateur Cup.

Kick-off is at 3pm and it is likely that some of Whitley’s new signings will among Ian Chandler’s squad.

Returning to the club this season are two former players, Phill Bell and Lee Paul Scroggins, while Kris Hughes and Chris Bell have also been signed.

Along with Steve Cuggy and Gavin Fell, who have taken over the reins at Blyth Spartans, captain David Coulson and striker Lee Mason have also moved to Croft Park, while Chris Fawcett has joined Ashington.

Whitley’s pre-season programme continues next week with trips to Esh Winning on Wednesday evening and Whitby Town on Saturday, July 23.

The following week Whitley visit neighbours North Shields on Monday, July 25, before taking on Gateshead at Hillheads on Wednesday, July 27.

Other games arranged are: AFC Fylde (h) Saturday, July 30; Durham City (a) Tuesday, August 2; Washington (a) Thursday, August 4; Sunderland XI (h) Saturday, August 6; Horden CW (a) Tuesday, August 9.

The new league season gets underway on Saturday, August 13, when Dunston UTS visit Hillheads.

The draw for the FA Cup has Whitley at home against Bishop Auckland in the extra preliminary round on Saturday, August 20.