Report by John Edwards
Picture by Jonathan Moore
Everyone connected with Altrincham is of one accord about Josh Lundstram - he was out on his own as the Robins' best player during the 2022-23 season.
That message came across loud and clear at last night's awards ceremony in the Community Sports Hall at The J.Davidson Stadium when the dynamic Alty midfielder swept the board by carrying off all three player-of-the-year accolades.
More often than not, opinions differ, and the main individual award is shared out, but not this time. The fans cast their votes, the players did the same and manager Phil Parkinson made up his mind, and the same conclusion was reached by all three - Josh was the stand-out performer in a campaign where we threatened to challenge for a Vanarama National League play-off place at one point and came agonisingly close to a Wembley appearance in the Isuzu FA Trophy.
In an evening that was kindly sponsored by J.Davidson, Car Finance 24/7 and McHale and Co Solicitors, and compered by press and media officer Brian Flynn, Josh found himself making his way to the front time and again in recognition of a campaign in which he emerged as the complete midfield player, driving his team on with forceful runs one minute and safeguarding the Alty goal with a crucial block or intervention the next.
The proceedings began with the young player-of-the-year award, sponsored by Cottons Hotel and won by Chris Conn-Clarke, ahead of second-placed Maxi Oyedele and third-placed Eddy Jones.
Chris, who is on loan at Waterford from Fleetwood Town, sent an audio message, saying: "I'm just sorry not to be there with you, having a wee drink with you all. Have one for me and enjoy your evening, and thanks for this."
After receiving the Marc Darcy-sponsored supporters' player-of-the-year award from Chris Maddon, who provides all the music at Alty home games, Josh was asked about playing every single minute of every league game, and said:
"It was something I was determined to do, and I'm proud and pleased to have done it. Even early in the season, if I felt a niggle, I thought I've got to get through it and keep the run going. I'm delighted I managed to see it out and not miss a minute."
Josh was just as appreciative of getting the nod from his team-mates and lifting the players' player-of-the-year award, sponsored by Harvey Nichols.
"It means a lot, because you are out there every Saturday, battling away with your team-mates, and we all rely on each other. It's a great honour that I really appreciate, so a big thanks to the rest of the lads."
The hat-trick was completed when Phil Parkinson took the microphone to announce his choice as manager's player-of-the-year, sponsored by Flannels.
"This isn't a difficult one," said Phil. "For one reason or another, whether it be injuries or whatever, there aren't many who have played an entire season like Josh has.
"It wasn't just me. Neil Sorvel had an input as well, and we both agreed it was an easy one this season. Eddy Jones has been superb as well and ran him close, but really it has to be Josh Lundstram."
Receiving the award, Josh said: "I really appreciate it from the gaffer and Sorvs, but I have to thank the lads as well, because there are so many who have been great this season. Eddy has played every game since coming in, and Isaac Marriott deserves an award as well for the way he has played since coming back from injury.
"I can't get something like this without the help of the rest of the lads, and it means a lot, because since coming back here after that initial loan spell I had with Alty, I've grown to love this club. I appreciate everything it has done for me, and I can't wait to see how far we can go next season."
The club person-of-the-year award, sponsored by Black Opal Travel, was won by Stuart Buchan, with Co-Chairman Bill Waterson explaining: "During the course of the season, a lot of work went on in here, inside the stadium, and around the ground as well, and Stuart was at the heart of it all."
The goal-of-the-year was deemed to be Chris Conn-Clarke's brilliant late winner against FC Halifax Town at The J.Davidson Stadium, when a dazzling run from the halfway line was followed by a clinical finish to secure the points for the Robins.
In a special and extremely well-received announcement, it was revealed by director Neil Faulkner that former Alty keeper and appearances record-holder Stuart Coburn had been granted a testimonial at a date to be agreed.
"It's about time!" Stuart smiled. "No, seriously, I'm so honoured to get the chance to have a testimonial, because people know what this club means to me.
"I'm honoured to have the chance to step out and be part of a game with lads I played with over the years. I'm just so pleased.
"To play for this club is special. It's an amazing club. I bring my two boys along and watch Alty games most weeks, and I was gutted when we missed out on Wembley a few weeks back.
"It's part of my life. Alty is my club, and I love coming here, so thanks everyone for this."
How the votes were cast:
Supporters' player-of-the-year - Josh :Lundstram (540), Isaac Marriott (495), Lewis Baines (394)
Supporters' young player-of-the-year - Chris Conn-Clarke (627), Maxi Oyedele (577), Eddy Jones (540)
Goal-of-the-year - Chris Conn-Clarke v FC Halifax Town, December 26th (158), Maxi Oyedele v Oldham Athletic, April 7th (95), Aaron Bennett v Runcorn Linnets, April 4th (90)
Team-of-the-year (based on votes cast) - Ollie Byrne, Miles Welch-Hayes, Lewis Baines, Eddy Jones, Josh Lundstram, Isaac Marriott, Maxi Oyedele, Jordan Hulme, Chris Conn-Clarke, Tyrese Sinclair, Regan Linney.