With the championship playoffs just around the corner the teams competing in the final four will be busy preparing themselves for the biggest games of the season so far. As well as looking forward to the spectacle of the top players battling it out for the trophy I always enjoy finding out who will scoop the prestigious Player of the Year Awards and who will make it into the team of the season. I thought that this year, it might be fun to put together my own team of the season, voted for by the readers of The Top of the D.
Inevitably there are bound to be players you think I have missed, or maybe players you feel I have wrongly included. That’s fair enough. However after my (failed) attempts to garner public opinion on Twitter, I decided to pick from those I’ve seen play and those recommended by some of the coaches I’ve spoken to. No offence is intended. So, with a much-needed disclaimer in place, let’s look at the goalkeepers in the running to be crowned the best in the NOW: Pensions Men’s Premier League.
David Kettle, Surbiton:
“David Kettle’s been a really important part of the success we’ve had, a huge part in fact. Not just because he’s a good goalkeeper, but also because he’s a very calm, composed and measured individual. He sets a really good tone in defence on and off the pitch. He’s exactly what you want in your side.” The words of Surbiton Coach Todd Williams talking about his No1. Having endured a frustrating time at East Grinstead playing second fiddle to Richard Potton, Kettle has flourished since moving to Sugden Road. He isn’t the biggest keeper in the world but makes up for it with some incredible agility and an excellent control of his D. Kettle has truly impressed in a side who has conceded the third fewest goals in the divison.
Jamie Cachia, Sheffield Hallam:
The Scotland international has had a busy time in goal for Sheffield this season. Whilst the goals against column makes for grim reading for a goalkeeper (59 goals conceded in 18 games) the stats do not tell the whole story. Cachia has pulled off some startling saves in some games where without his efforts Vicky Joel’s side would have sunk without trace. Hallam have given themselves a chance of survival by scrapping their way to a place in the playoffs, obviously their goalkeeper hasn’t pushed them there alone but he has easily been one of, if not, the most important player for his team.
Ian Scanlon, Hampstead and Westminster:
It has been a disappointing campaign for Hampstead this season. One of the bright spots, however has been the form of their giant goalkeeper. In a similar vein to Jamie Cachia at Sheffield, Scanlon has produced some inspired goalkeeping displays to keep Hampstead in games, or spare their blushes in games they lost. The treble save he made in the first half of his team’s 4-0 defeat to Wimbledon in week eight was one of the finest pieces of goalkeeping I have seen in a very long time and was a highlight of a first half where he seemed to be fighting a lone battle to keep the Wombles at bay. Scanlon has had ample opportunity to display his outstanding reflexes this season, probably more than he would have liked.
Tom Millington, Wimbledon:
I was tempted to include Wimbledon’s John Harris in this category for his brave cameo standing in for Millington against East Grinstead. That would probably have done a disservice to the regular Wimbledon stopper who has been excellent this season. Millington was Mr Reliable during Wimbledon’s promotion campaign the season before and continued that good form in the Premier League this time out. What I like most about Wimbledon’s No1 is his ability to appear in control of the situation even when he and his defence are under extreme pressure. He can make tough saves look routine and has made the step up to the Premier League look very comfortable.
George Pinner, Beeston:
You can’t have a goalkeeper of the year list without the larger than life character of George Pinner getting a mention. Pinner has missed the last few games with injury and looks likely to miss out on the playoffs altogether. Despite this, his efforts when fit have shown everyone, as if there was any doubt, why he is the current Great Britain first choice. A dominant presence in his D and excellent at keeping out penalty corners, a vital skill for today’s goalkeeper, the Beeston stopper is never short of a word or two for his opponents, either. Pinner is great to watch so it is a shame he’ll be absent from the playoffs. It has still been a fine season from the 27-year-old.
That covers the goalkeepers in the running for the team of the season. Make sure your favourite makes it into the side by voting in the poll below. Voting will be open for a week and the team of the season will be unveiled once voting for all positions has closed.
Next up will be the players in contention for the back four.