EFL HON­OURS

A look at who claimed the prizes at the an­nual awards...

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE: - By John Lyons

BRIGHTON & Hove Al­bion’s An­thony Knock­aert has been re­warded for his sparkling form by be­ing named the Sky Bet Cham­pi­onship Player of the Sea­son.

The 25-year-old winger had scored 15 goals and weighed in with eight as­sists to put the Seag­ulls on the brink of the Premier League.

The French­man picked up his prize at the 2017 EFL Awards last Sun­day af­ter beat­ing off the di­vi­sions two lead­ing scor­ers – Leeds’ Chris Wood (24 goals) and Newcastle’s Dwight Gayle (22).

“I am very happy that I have won the Sky Bet Cham­pi­onship Player of the Sea­son,” said Knock­aert. “I thank my team-mates for this and ev­ery­one connected with Brighton.

“The award means a lot to me and I am happy that I have achieved an award like this in my ca­reer. I will keep on work­ing hard for the rest of the sea­son and keep on do­ing what I have been do­ing.”

Sh­effield United cap­tain Billy Sharp con­tin­ued his club’s cel­e­bra­tions by pick­ing up the Sky Bet League One Player of the Sea­son, just 24 hours af­ter the Blades se­cured pro­mo­tion to the Cham­pi­onship.

The 31-year-old said: “I am a very happy man. We did the hard­est part yes­ter­day win­ning pro­mo­tion and that was our aim at the start of the sea­son.

“To win the Player of the Sea­son award is very nice. You cannot win these types of awards with­out your team­mates. The man­ager (Chris Wilder) and the team have shown a lot of be­lief in me this sea­son.”

It was also a fan­tas­tic evening for re­cently-pro­moted Don­caster Rovers. Striker John Mar­quis was awarded the Sky Bet League Two Player of the Sea­son, Andy But­ler re­ceived the PFA Player in the Com­mu­nity award, Dar­ren Fer­gu­son was recog­nised as man­ager in the EFL’s Team of the Sea­son and Paul May­field was named EFL Sup­porter of the Year.

Peter­bor­ough United di­rec­tor of foot­ball Barry Fry was hon­oured with the Con­tri­bu­tion to League Foot­ball award, recog- nis­ing his life­time ser­vice to the pro­fes­sional game with the night’s most pres­ti­gious hon­our.

Amazed

“I went into man­age­ment very early, I was 28 when I got my first man­ager’s job,” he said. “I lasted 32 years and I, like you, am ab­so­lutely amazed that I lasted that long. “I had a great time as a man­ager. I’ve been to Wem­b­ley four times and won ev­ery time, I’ve won play-off I’ve won leagues, I’ve won cups but to get this hon­our is the great­est achieve­ment I’ve ever been awarded and thank you very much the English Foot­ball League.” Brent­ford’s Kevin O’Con­nor was the re­cip­i­ent of the Sir Tom Fin­ney Award, an ac­co­lade that is pre­sented to a player who has had an ex­cep­tional ca­reer in the EFL and epit­o­mises the man af­ter which the award is named. A one-club man, O’Con­nor, who is now Brent­ford B head coach, is in his third decade at Grif­fin Park af­ter pro­gress­ing through the Bees’ youth sys­tem. He signed pro terms in 1999 and went on to make 501 first team ap­pear­ances in 16 years, plac­ing him fourth on the club’s all-time ap­pear­ance list. The 35-year-old said: “The club have been good to me and I’ve been loyal to the club at the same time we’ve both helped each other out. “All I’ve done is get paid to play foot­ball, work hard and tried to act how you should do – it seems to have worked out ok!” More than 650 guests were in at­ten­dance at the Lon­don Hil­ton on Park Lane as the prizes were dished out.

PRIZE GUYS: Brighton’s An­thony Knock­aert and Sh­effield United’s Billy Sharp show off their tro­phies

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