Awards All Round As The South's Stars Are Honoured

By Sam Elliott

It’s not how anyone wanted it to end, but there were stories aplenty in the Vanarama National League South.

Covid-19 may have cost us what was shaping up to be a gripping title race and there was of course a nervous wait.

Wealdstone’s name has been missing from the Step 1 running order for 32 years.

So although it may have seemed like a lifetime, what was a delay of a few more weeks in the grand scheme of things?

We are still waiting to find out who goes up with them, with next weekend’s Promotion Final sure to be a thriller.

But until then here are some certain winners as we crown the division’s top talent.

Vanarama National League South Manager of the Year: Dean Brennan (Wealdstone)

He didn’t imagine he would getting his hands on the championship trophy, let alone finding out his team were winners on his 40th birthday whilst driving on the A1 in the middle the week.

But Dean Brennan knows all about surprises, and he masterminded a big one.

Thankfully he was at home and not hands-free when he found out another accolade was coming his way - the year’s top boss accolade.

The Stones won 22 of their 33 matches, amassing 70 points.

They are back in the top level of Non-League football for the first time since 1988. Former players Vinnie Jones and Stuart Pearce even sent their congratulations.

So did the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson writing to his local club as the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, much to Dean’s delight.

Vanarama National League South Player of the Year: Tom Smith (Bath City)

Bath City’s Tom Smith has an edge about him in front of goal, and appears to be just as sharp off the pitch as well.

Not only does the free-scoring attacking midfielder put in some hard work in the black and white stripes.

But Smith has been doing it all while studying for a Business Management degree through the Open University.

Not only that, but he works with sports scientist John Watson and during lockdown he cycled ‘virtual’ Everest while raising money for mental health charity Mind UK.

Despite Bath missing out on promotion via the play-offs, the 22-year-old has something to show for his fantastic season.

Romans manager Jerry Gill says he has “got his head screwed on” - and he’s gone himself some player!

Vanarama National League South Top Goalscorers:
Darren McQueen (Dartford)
Jonah Ayunga (Havant & Waterlooville)
Joe Iaciofano (St Albans City)

The race for the Golden Boot was one you just couldn’t take your eyes off this year.

So fierce was it that three players eventually shared the crown for the first time.

Long-term scoring chart leader Jonah Ayunga had a year to remember with Havant & Waterlooville, notching 17 as the Hawks finished second.

Darren McQueen was electric for Dartford under Steve King - he had the same haul.

Despite a season of struggle at St Albans City, striker Joe Iaciofano still plundered 17.

The Top Scorer trophy so nearly had to be cut up into quarters, Elliott Romain just one behind after doing well for both with Eastbourne and Dartford.

Photo credit: Adam Williams

Where next?

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Lynn It To Win It! Champions Clean Up With Three Awards It was a season where we entered the unknown, and it was a very unfamiliar challenger who caused shockwaves.

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