The votes are in. The dye is cast and the results have been finalised. The moment you’ve all been waiting for, the time to announce the eleven players the public have chosen as their Investec Women’s Premier League Team of the Season. Here goes:
Goalkeeper: A see-saw battle that saw the lead change hands between the top three candidates on several occasions until the voting closed last night. Canterbury’s Helen Fagg, Bowdon Hightown’s Amy Tennant and Reading’s Sarah Ellis all held first place at one time or another but in the end, Ellis came out on top with 36.26% of the vote. A brave challenge from the other two was not quite enough as Tennant polled 25.45% and Fagg 29.28%. Ellis has had her usual consistent and excellent season, conceding just 16 goals and playing her part in Reading’s qualficiation for the playoffs. She will be hoping she can be the hero in the final again this year as she was last.
Just four spaces up for grabs between seven outstanding defenders, three players burst ahead of the pack to safely guarantee their places whilst the fourth spot went right down to the wire. Reading’s Leah Wilkinson, who has enjoyed a fantastic season topped the list with 25.38% of the votes. Next in line were Canterbury’s excellent defensive pairing of Mel Clewlow and Grace Balsdon. The duo were instrumental in Canterbury finishing top of the league and keeping ten clean sheets in 18 games. Clewlow accounted for 21.11% and Balsdon 17.09%. The final place was up for grabs till the very end but Emily Maguire pipped Surbiton’s Giselle Ansley 12.06% to 10.55%. It is a formidable back line in anyone’s book.
Midfield: A tough category to break into with three slots contested between the eight finest midfield players in the league. The outstanding efforts of Bowdon Hightown skipper Fay Nash made her the clear winner with 33.5% of the total, a full 16.41% ahead of the second placed challenger Nikki Kidd. Kidd polled 17.09% and is a deserving inclusion in the side after a wonderful debut season in the league. Kidd is joined by Canterbury and Scotland teammate Nikki Lloyd who got 14.55% of the votes. Lloyd is another who enjoyed a fine first season at Polo Farm and gets her rewards with her place in the team. Surbiton duo Georgie Twigg and Sarah Page just missed out with 10.66% and 10.53% respectively. A very tough category.
Forwards: No prizes for guessing the top player in this part of the poll. Alex Danson, the leading scorer in the league and the Players’ Player of the season took her rightful place in the team with 23.96% of the vote. Taking second spot in the team is a player Danson knows very well as Becky Halle, her Reading teammate takes the second place with 23.27% of the public vote. Halle, a fanatical Chelsea supporter has, thankfully been more effective in front of goal than the strikers in her favoured football team and has impressed the public enough to run Danson very close. The third and final place goes to the legendary Tina Cullen. The Hightown Player-Coach’s series of important strikes kept her team in the running for the playoffs till the final weeks of the season and as a result she took 21.89% of the votes cast. Clifton’s Els Mansell just missed out coming fourth with 17.74% of the votes. It is a front three that would take some stopping.
The team in full: Ellis, Wilkinson, Clewlow, Balsdon, Maguire, Nash, Kidd, Lloyd, Danson, Halle, Cullen.
There is a marked difference between this team and the England Hockey Team of the Season as there was with the Men’s Premier League side. As before, you could argue the social media use of certain clubs has played a part, or you could argue the fans see the game from a different perspective to the players. Whatever the reasoning, all the players who were in the poll had outstanding seasons. Congratulations to those who made the final cut!
Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote.