Player of the Month Awards announced for December 2021

Fri 7th January 2022 | League Awards
By Alex Thrower

The NWCFL are delighted to announce the winners of our Player of Month award for December 2021. 

The stand-out performers are; in the Premier, Kieran Garner-Knapper (Vauxhall Motors), in the First Division North, Ryan Steele (AFC Darwen), and in the First Division South, Sam Heathcote (West Didsbury & Chorlton). We'd like to congratulate all three winners on their outstanding performances, which you can read more about below. 

Vauxhall Motors winger Kieran Garner-Knapper had a huge part to play in getting his side's season restarted, after a torrid run which saw them pick up just one win in seven. With two goals and two Man of the Match performances, the former Sandbach United player has had a huge impact on Motors, who have now won their last three to keep the relegation zone far over their shoulder. Garner-Knapper's nomination was quick to recognise his importance to this turn in form:

'December was the month, even though we only played three games, where we have seen the best of Kieran Garner-Knapper. In the first game we played, after three postponements, Kieran came on as a late substitution in a defeat at Prestwich Heys and was arguably our best outfield player. In our next game against Wythenshawe Town, Kieran was outstanding and showed us what we knew he was capable of, capitalising on a poor clearance from the Wythenshawe goalkeeper to score the crucial second goal for his team. In the third game at Congleton Town, Kieran scored an excellant goal and was brought down for the all important penalty for our second goal.'

AFC Darwen forward Ryan Steele has been recognised as the First Division North's Player of the Month thanks, in part, to his two goals and three Man of the Match performances. The Lancashire club may be struggling in the relegation zone, but Steele's nomination noted how deserved such an award is: 

'AFC Darwen's most consistent player and leading goal scorer so far in 2021. Ryan's work rate is second to none in every match, always gives 100% and leads by example. Ryan deserves some recognition for his achievements and efforts so far this season.'

West Didsbury & Chorlton captain Sam Heathcote's performances this season have helped his side to leading the way in the First Division South, and his outstanding December saw the centre-back collect two clean sheets, a goal and an assist in four games. Chris Rowley's side suffered a slight dent in their form recording two draws and a defeat before ending the year with a resounding 5-0 victory over Cammell Laird 1907, but Heathcote's nomination remarked how important a role he plays for the Manchester club: 

'Sam has had an exceptional season and December has been a special month for him. Opposition supporters, players, coaches and committee members have repeatedly reminded us at the club how excellent a player Heathcote is both when defending the goal or attacking it. Sam is the key component in the best defence in the NWCFL, conceding only 15 goals all season, which is nine goals better than the 2nd best placed team. Sam is an all-action player who puts his body on the line to keep a clean sheet. As well as this, he added to his 17 goals already this season (from centre back!) with a towering header in thunderous conditions away at Sandbach United.'

Congratulations, again, to all three for their fantastic performances over the past month. 


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