By Brian P. Dunleavy
It’s time for the third annual Full Scottish end-of-season awards and, like most prizes handed out in Scottish football this campaign, there is very little suspense here. With Celtic claiming all of the country’s major trophies, and winning every match it played domestically, it’s going to be hard for us to spread the wealth.
But we’ll try…
Player of the Year:
Scott Sinclair, Celtic.
Who were you expecting? Joey Barton? Seriously, the Hoops winger literally changed the game in Scotland within moments of taking the pitch. After signing for Brendan Rodgers’ side hours before the season opener, Sinclair came on as a late substitute in that match, against Hearts at Tynecastle, to score the winner. He went on to net 25 goals in all competitions, and become the subject of a song based on Supertramp’s “The Logical Song.” Not bad for a player who has found a home in Glasgow.
Manager of the Year:
Mark Warburton… Hah, we kid because we love, ’Gers supporters (well, “love” is probably a bit strong). Seriously, the winner here is:
Brendan Rodgers, Celtic.
And how could it not be? Undefeated domestic season. Treble. And, it’s only his first season in charge at Parkhead—with hopefully many more to come (the Irishman signed a four-year extension in April). He said he was “born into” the job, and it sure seems that way.
Young Player of the Year:
Liam Lindsay, Partick Thistle.
Of course, we could easily go with Celtic’s Kieran Tierney here, and no one would complain (well, someone might), but Lindsay has emerged as a stalwart for a Partick side that were a feel-good story this season, making 42 appearances and even scoring seven goals.
Team of the Season: Celtic.
Invincible. Treble. Enough said.
Story of the Season:
Yes, Celtic generated nearly all of the headlines in Scotland—and rightfully so—but that other green side in Edinburgh also had quite a 2016-17 season. Starting arguably with the
club’s first Scottish Cup triumph in 114 years last May, the Hibs’ brain trust made the right call when it opted to replace departing manager Alan Stubbs with his former Celtic teammate Neil Lennon. Lennon, as he is wont to do, immediately made clear his expectations: winning the Championship and thus earning promotion back to the Premiership. He led Hibs to the former in a canter and effectively secured the latter in March. He also took them to the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup. Now, he’s aiming for second-place in the Premiership in 2017-18. All we can say to that is, “Watch out, Aberdeen.”
Comeback Player of the Year:
Scott Brown, Celtic.
No, the Hoops captain didn’t suffer a career-threatening injury in 2015-16, and he isn’t (really) all that old. But after two subpar campaigns on the trot, many in and around Celtic were questioning whether the end was near. It may be, but the midfielder showed this season that he can still get it done—with his usual, uh, “enthusiasm” as well.
The Coming-and-Going Award:
That old head-scratcher for American sports fans—promotion/relegation—means we’ll be losing Inverness Caledonian Thistle and, thus, the Highlands Derby (with Ross County) in the Premiership next season. However, Scotland’s second-best derby—that one in Edinburgh with Hibs and Hearts—will make a triumphant, and long overdue, return to the schedule. And Hamilton, which may not be a Prem-worthy club in the eyes of many, but certainly deserves better than the negativity it found itself in at the end of the season, gets to stay, at the expense of Dundee United (and the Dundee Derby).
We can’t wait for next season already.