Learn To Accept An Award

Kev Neylon
8 min readApr 29, 2024

An apt title possibly, but more mangled lyrics, this time taking Reward by Teardrop Explodes in vain.

Last night saw the end of season Crawley Town awards ceremony at Lingfield Park. (And yes, we know, the season hasn’t actually ended yet — woo and hoo!) It was the first time Helen and I had attended anything like this. Steve Leake had been looking to try and get enough numbers together to get the reduced group rate for tickets but hadn’t drummed up enough support, but he had sorted getting ours, only for him unfortunately not to be able to make the night himself.

We were on a table with other supporters, including Alain from GH Travel who was going to be presenting his own award. I had meant to bring my proper camera with me but doing that got a bit lost as we were scrambling for time to get there for the start, and so had to use the pretty useless phone camera. And even then, remembering to take photos for each award got a bit lost along the way, especially early on.

The night was compered by Dan Windle, who is a commentator / presenter on various TV and radio channels. But he was struggling with microphones for most of the evening, the first one he had made him seem like he was doing a Norman Collier tribute gig, and subsequent ones still made him sound like he had done something to piss the sound man off, as others using the same mics didn’t sound as muffled. Not sure if the mics could be blamed for being charisma blockers though.

I had a chance to introduce myself and have a chat with Reuben Watt, the CTSA chair. And ask the question I’d been wanting to ask for months. His name is not a common one, and I had seen it crop up as a new hire at the company I work in HR for back in September and had been wondering since if it was the same person. Turns out it is, and it is a small world indeed.

The first award of the night was the PFA Community Champion award, presented by the Crawley Community Foundation, and it went to Danilo Orsi.

Next up was the GH Travel away player of the season. This is one that is totted up over the season by the fans travelling on the supporters coaches voting for their player of the game on the way back from each game. Alain was presenting this one, something he said he felt really nervous about when he got back to his seat. But not as nervous it would seem as the recipient of the award, Liam Kelly, who didn’t look like he enjoyed being on the stage at all, and only said a couple of quick words before getting off as soon as possible.

I don’t consider myself as being tall nowadays, being over six feet tall is commonplace, but a couple of the players seem very small in comparison, Adam Campbell is one, and Liam Kelly is another. Liam looks really young as well, despite being one of the squad’s older players, and seemed to be like a nervous teenager upon the stage, and I wondered to myself if he’d keep getting id’d every time he went to the bar.

It was then the turn of the Crawley Observer player of the year award, with Mark Dunford from the paper giving it out to Will Wright. And then it was on to the first of the more serious events of the evening, the meal’s first course.

After the first course came the CTSA young player of the year award. Unlike the first couple of awards, where only the winner had been shown on the screens around the room, the nominations for the award were shown on the screens, and when Jay Williams saw himself up on the screen he got up to go to the stage before realising it was only a nomination, and earned himself a ribbing by team mates. When Reuben spoke, it was to announce the winner was Klaidi Lolos.

Then there was the Clubman of the year award, for the member of staff of the year. Prior to the Sutton United game, I had been listening to them announce their employee of the year award, which had been given to the person who produced their programme (and had done so for the previous eighteen years). No chance of that being the case tonight obviously. It goes to Steve Hafner.

Nick Tsaroulla is then called to the stage and is presented with a framed shirt with his name and the number one hundred on, for him reaching the milestone of one hundred appearances for the club. They played the whole of The Champs’ “Tequila” whilst he was stood on stage clutching the large, framed shirt. Someone on our table mentioned that he had spoken to Nick at some point recently and had been telling him that they had missed the rearranged Stockport County game due to being at a Radiohead concert, and Nick had told him that he’d never heard of Radiohead.

It was now time for the main course of the meal and the army of servers coming out with plates. But with so many to feed, I’m sure some people had finished by the time those on the last tables had been presented with the plate.

And after another food interlude it was back into another round of awards. Nuffield Health’s 2023–24 goal of the season went to Klaidi Lolos for his goal away against Harrogate Town. Which was a good goal, but the general consensus around our table was Harry Forster got robbed for his effort against Bristol Rovers. Someone on our table mentioned that those presenting on behalf of Nuffield Health weren’t exactly selling the benefits of a health provider.

It was then time for the player’s player of the year award, and the lesser spotted Ben Gladwin was on stage to present this one. And it went to Jay Williams, meaning he did get a legitimate visit to the stage for an award. Plenty of f bombs were dropped (or as Welcome To Wrexham might phrase it, lots of enthusiasm was shown).

Food interrupted again with the dessert coming out before it was back into the final stretch as manager Scott Lindsey took to the stage looking dapper in his tuxedo and black tie. If only suits and trainers had been acceptable in the eighties, it would have made my teenage clubbing so much easier on my feet on the dancefloor. There wasn’t a manager of the year award, as we only had the one this season, not the five we had last time around. But there was a lot of positivity from Scott as to our playoff hopes and that much-wanted trip to Wembley and League One beyond.

It was then time for the last award of the evening. The last that the fans had voted on, the Eden Utilities sponsored player of the year, which went to Danilo Orsi, who was also presented with the club’s golden boot for his twenty-ones goals (so far) this season. It was good to see that my choice for this of Corey Addai was in the top four shown on the screens.

With that the awards part of the evening, Dan Windle was off to his usual job of helping insomniacs fall asleep, the squad had a picture in front of the stage, and then the lights went down, the music increased in volume as the squeaky voiced DJ started, and most people headed to the bar.

For me, I think there should be a match of the season. There would be two games, against the same side, for totally different reasons, which would have got my vote. The opponents would be Bradford City. To win at home on the first day of the season against a side tipped for promotion was the springboard to the season for us. I think everything came from that winning start. And the away game was probably the best feeling I’ve had at a live game. Playing OK and taking the lead, then playing like dogshit for an hour and being behind, only to get a late equaliser, and then get, not only what we thought was the winner deep, deep into added time, but then to add to it in the hundredth minute to come away with a 4–2 win was amazing. (Obviously, any future wins this season are likely to trump it.)

For us it was time to wander off. A good night, a decent excuse to get dressed up and give the new suit another airing, and its hopefully something to attend again in the future.

Come on you reds.

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Kev Neylon

Writing fiction, travel, history, sport, & music blogs. Monthly e-zine with all kinds of writing at www.onetruekev.co.uk. All pictures used are my own.