Switched for the first time in years from Torquay to the home of the nation’s luxury liners and famous ‘Southampton Water’, nearly three hundred guests gathered at The Grand Harbour Hotel as all 68 clubs hailed the campaign’s champions, cup kings, star players and best behaved sides.
They were definitely in the mood to party long before a live band, disco and comedian Adger Brown, pictured, flew in from Portugal to entertain them after the night’s accolades were handed out by EVO-STIK League South chairman Terry Barratt, president Keith Allen, league directors and guests of honour led by Clive Timmins from Bostik, parent company of title sponsors EVO-STIK.
Others representing the league’s partners at a plush new venue for the annual dinner and dance in 2017 included guests Ady Barkess from Hereward Sports & Leisure Limited, Gordon Burke from the Frank Whittle Partnership, The Footy Factory’s Martin Cassidy, Martin and Mandy Smith from Walton Press, Alan Foot of AS Foot Accountancy and Jim Hill from the Football Association.
On parade: Top flight champions Chippenham Town
Apart from marking another season of success on the pitch for individual clubs, they had plenty to celebrate off it collectively following news of a two year extension to their title sponsorship deal with EVO-STIK. Announced only hours earlier at the Southern League's Annual General Meeting, the financial boost was followed by the unveiling of BigFreeBet.com as new sponsors of the Southern League Challenge Cup and the election of a popular new vice-chairman in Merthyr Town’s Anthony Hughes.
The Football Association’s recent decision to ask the league to administer a new division at Step 3 for season 2018-19 hardly dampened spirits either after it was confirmed that the number of automatic promotion place up for grabs in EVO-STIK League South East and EVO-STIK League South West would double next season!
After a touching moment when the league’s chairman was presented with a special gift to take home to his wife Joan who was unable to attend due to illness, the night’s loudest cheers were reserved for the newly rebranded EVO-STIK League South’s divisional champions Chippenham Town, Royston Town and Hereford and promotion play-off winners Leamington, Farnborough and Tiverton Town.
After their triumph in the League Challenge Cup Hayes and Yeading United were also cheered to the rafters as were Hereford after their win over Royston in the Championship Cup.
Silverware: Bostik's Clive Timmins presents champions Royston Town with their shield
As you'd expect from a competition that takes great pride in its reputation for fair play, Aylesbury United’s sportsmanship as overall Respect winners was also celebrated, Banbury United and Shortwood United earning their division’s respective fair play laurels.
If Hereford didn’t have enough to toast by the end of the night, The Bulls were also named ‘Club of the Year’ by the EVO-STIK League South’s directors.
Southern League 2016-17 Roll of Honour
Division One Central
Promotion play-off winners: Farnborough
Winners: Royston Town
Collection: Hereford with their trophies
Division One South & West
Promotion play-off winners: Tiverton Town
Promotion play-off winners: Leamington
Winners: Chippenham Town
The Championship Match
(Division One Central champions versus Division One South & West champions)
Runners-up: Royston Town
League Challenge Cup
Winners: Hayes & Yeading United
Runners-up: St Ives Town
Cup kings: Hayes & Yeading United with the Southern League Challenge Cup
Fair Play Award - Sponsored by Frank Whittle Partnership
(Fewest disciplinary points)
Premier Division: Banbury United (190 points)
Division One Central: Aylesbury United (158 points)
Division One South & West: Shortwood United (212 points)
Overall: Aylesbury United (158 points)
Respect Award - Sponsored by The Footy Factory
(Most points gained for home matches)
Premier Division: Dorchester Town & Slough Town (811 points, 17.63 per match)
Division One Central: Aylesbury United (809 points, 19.26 per match)
Division One South & West: Hereford (764 points, 18.19 per match)
Overall winners: Aylesbury United (809 points, 19.26 per match)
Merit Cup - Sponsored by Frank Whittle Partnership
(Most League Goals Scored)
Royston Town (121 League Goals)
Premier Division: Andy Sandell (Chippenham Town, 27 goals)
Division One Central: Jermaine Hall (AFC Dunstable, 30 goals)
Division One South & West: Tommy Wright (Salisbury, 39 goals)
Fair play: Aylesbury United receiving their Respect Award
Club of the Season, Divisional awards
(as voted by the Board of Directors)
Premier Division: Chippenham Town
Division One Central: Royston Town
Division One South & West: Hereford
Club of the Season
(as voted by the Board of Directors)
Images courtesy of Tony Hickey
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