There was a celebratory atmosphere at the Optimum Pay Stadium on Friday night as players, staff, fans and sponsors came together for the ‘Not the End of Season Awards’.
It was a night to pick out some of the great moments from the frustrating 18 months of stop-start football and it’s easy to forget how much good there has been.
Some long overdue awards were handed out to Troy Bourne for his brilliant goal to take the Dabbers into the 1st Round of the FA Cup for only the third time (and creating that iconic photo), and Joe Malkin being awarded with top goalscorer for the 19/20 season.
Joel Stair got an award for his brilliant celebration after his winner at Witton, as did Caspar Hughes for his screamer at South Shields, claiming Goal of the Season. Caspar also received an award later on for surpassing 200 Dabbers appearances.
And Player of the Season for 19/20 went to the tireless Matty Devine for his sterling work at left-back.
During the awards, Jon Gold was keen to highlight the work of all elements of the club throughout the pandemic, saying he was ‘proud of the work players, staff and volunteers have done over the last 18 months’
He continued: “We need your support more than ever, we’re doing everything we can to take this club to the next level.”
And new sponsors Everything Genetic and Optimum Pay were singled out for their financial support alongside the wide variety of help from fans and residents for the incredible fundraising efforts at the start of the pandemic.
And during his speech, manager Dave Cooke issued a rallying cry for supporters to ‘pack out the stands’ for the coming season to help the Dabbers repeat or even surpass the successes of the last two curtailed seasons.
Also attending and receiving awards were the womens’ team, for which the night doubled up as a promotion party after their first season was confirmed to be getting the perfect outcome just the previous night.
There was a double victory also for Claire Rathbone, with the centre-back picking up both Manager and Players Player of the Season awards.
Amazingly, manager Chris Broad revealed that when she had showed up to start playing, she’d ‘never played a game of 11-a-side football before.’ That decision has certainly paid off so far.
Broad himself was a recipient of praise, the players saying they ‘simply wouldn’t be where they are today’ without him.
He went on to say that he had doubts early on after the formation of the women’s team, saying ‘is it going to be worth starting’, but that ‘players that wanted to be successful had made all the difference.’
In a mark of how much they are respected throughout the club, both the men’s and women’s sections of the awards gave gifts to Jason and Ange Clarke and their daughter Freya for their incredible work helping out the teams, with the women’s side highlighting that ‘they treat the women and men’s teams equally’ which is ‘rare at this level’.
The end of the night saw some club legends receive some much-deserved recognition. Peter Temmen’s extraordinary 50 years of service to Nantwich Town was recognised with a large collage of his various vital roles that are also set to see him earn an award from the FA this season.
Sean Cooke, on the cusp of a century of Dabbers goals, got an award for his efforts, as did Danny Griggs, who after playing in four different decades for the Dabbers and working as Assistant Manager has had to step away due to work commitments. He received a standing ovation from the audience as his family watched on proudly.
Jon Gold finished off by praising the breadth of the club’s 44 different teams at various levels, saying ‘that’s what a football club should be about’, and with seasons due to get started very soon, there will hopefully be even more to celebrate next time around.
You can see a gallery of the evening below: