The Linfield Academy awards presentation event took place at the Crowne Plaza hotel, Shaw’s Bridge on Thursday night.
It was the first time the event was held in a couple of years due to the pandemic and in attendance were Linfield captain Jamie Mulgrew, assistant manager Ross Oliver, head of recruitment Willie McKeown, Swifts coach Michael Gault, honorary team attendant Andy Kerr MBE, former Academy graduate Paul Smyth and club directors Paul Weir, Michael Jones, Jonathan Lamont and Ronnie Morrison.
Hosted by Linfield Head of Youth, Glenn Ferguson, the event was a celebration of the success of the teams at all age levels of the club’s Academy.
The coaches of each squad gave a review of their team’s season and all the players received their medals.
Some of the highlights of the season were
- 2009s won the treble of National League, NIBFA Cup and National League Cup,
- 2008s won the double of National League and NIBFA Cup
- 2007s won the treble of National League, NIBFA Cup and National League Cup
The above 3 squads won 8 out of 9 available trophies.
Two special awards are always given out on the night - the first being the James Elliott Trophy.
James was a highly talented footballer, skilful, hardworking and although small in stature, he was very brave. He played for Linfield under 14s and had been at Linfield since he was aged 10.
James was from Stranocum near Ballymoney in County Antrim and in August 2009 while he was out walking with his dog, his beloved pet went into the river and got into difficulties. James instinctively and bravely jumped into the river to try and help his dog but unfortunately and tragically, the river swept him away and his young life was sadly lost.
James was a great young man with a fantastic attitude but he also had a very good way about him, well mannered, helpful and a good team mate.
All the special and positive personal attributes that are needed to be awarded this trophy in memory of young James.
The recipient of the award this year has been at the club for 7 years - since he was 8 years old and usually it would be the appropriate time to move from the Academy into the senior side of the club.
This year however is very different, as the recipient of the award on this occasion has had to cope with what’s been a very tough time and he’s decided to follow in his dad’s footsteps and take up a coaching role within the academy.
The award was presented by Linfield director Paul Weir to Tristan Devlin whose father Darren is now the coach of the under 16s squad.
The second special award was the Frankie Taylor memorial award presented in honour of the former Linfield director who sadly passed away several years ago. This award is presented to an Academy personality who has given outstanding service to the Academy and this year it was awarded to Ricky McIntyre who has given 15 years loyal service to the Academy. The trophy was presented by Linfield director Ronnie Morrison.
On a night when Northern Ireland were hosting Greece at Windsor Park, senior international and former Linfield star Paul Smyth made presentations to several young Linfield Academy players who had each earned schoolboy international recognition in the season just ended.
Photos of each of the presentations follow below.
Above - Callum Burnside
Above - Jack Wilkins
Above - Cormac Austin
Above - Josh Briggs
Above - Jay McDowell
Above - Blaine McClure
Above - Callum Cowan
Above - Cole Brannigan
Linfield photographer Colin McMaster has provided numerous other photos from an enjoyable evening and these will be shared on Linfieldfc.com over the course of the weekend.