The 61st annual West Ham United Player Awards brought to you by Betway in aid of the Academy was held at the Intercontinental London – The O2 Hotel on Wednesday evening with eight prestigious Awards being handed out to members of the West Ham mens’ and ladies’ first-teams and past Hammers legends.
The ceremony, which takes place towards the end of every season, was hosted by popular TV Presenter Gabby Logan and legendary former Irons defender Alvin Martin and truly was a night to remember for some.
The Austrian, as expected, was crowned the night’s penultimate and most prestigious prize, the Betway Hammer of the Year or the Player of the Season for his efforts in the Premier League this term.
Arnautovic has 10 goals, all of them arriving in his last 16 Premier League appearances, and has dazzled the Claret & Blue Army, embarking on a meteoric rise from zero to hero under new manager David Moyes.
The moments that helped to win the Austria International the Award by a percentage of almost 70 out of the overall vote included memorable volleys against the likes of ex-club Stoke City, Huddersfield Town and Southampton in the last few months, adding a further seven against Chelsea, Newcastle United, AFC Bournemouth, Watford and in Sunday’s defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
The swashbuckling forward has also added four assists to his resume this term and that helped him to win the high respect and acclaim of his teammates by picking up Players’ Player of the Season.
But, he wasn’t dome there, collecting a third Award of the night, the first Award of the ceremony in the form of the Signing of the Season, beating names such as veteran Pablo Zabaleta, who was third in the Hammer of the Year vote and Inter Milan loanee Joao Mario.
The man that finished runner-up for HotY was 19-year-old defender Declan Rice after a ground-breaking season, in which he has made nearly 30 first-team appearances in all competitions.
In last year’s event, he picked up Young Hammer of the Year for leading the Irons’ U23s to promotion to the Premier League 2 Division 1 and his name would be carved in that trophy for the second year on the spin in East London.
Rice’s cool, collected and mature displays in high-pressure situations this campaign have earned him plaudits from throughout the footballing world and even a start for the Republic of Ireland national team away in Turkey, his International debut.
The starlet’s former teammate in the Development Squad Conor Coventry, an 18-year-old central midfielder was another of the young players to be honoured, fighting off fierce competition to be given the Dylan Tombides Award.
The prize is named after the late Tombides, a product of West Ham’s famous Academy who sadly passed away aged just 20 in April 2014, and Coventry was a more than worthy recipient.
He has helped the Young Hammers to a fifth-place finish in their first-ever term in the PL2 Division 1 despite a closing defeat to the champions the Gunners, playing a level above his age group at times.
For the first ever time at the Player Awards, an Award was handed out to a member of the club’s ladies side and it was Players’ Player, dished out to American attacker Ellie Zoepf.
Zoepf and Karen Ray’s team have been in blistering form of late, unbeaten over a run of 13 matches and the whole year of 2018 so far, performances that have seen them lift two cups.
The successful team triumphed in the Isthmian Ladies Cup by beating Charlton Athletic in the final and then under two weeks later, lifted another trophy, the WPL Plate by thrashing Queens Park Rangers in the final match.
Ray’s girls are now attempting to avoid defeat in their final two matches of the season to go unbeaten for the entire second half of the campaign, an achievement that is unlikely to be matched by any West Ham team in the near future and is being deservedly celebrated.
Much like the 2016/2017 campaign, when it came to the Goal of the Season Award, there could only be one winner and it also came in a London derby in the month of January.
While last season Andy Carroll’s incredible overhead kick effort in the home league victory over Crystal Palace was crowned, Pedro Obiang would be the unlikely source of this term’s wonder-strike.
With the scores 0-0 approaching the final 20 minutes of the PL clash between Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham at Wembley Stadium in the new year, the Spaniard produced something Incredible.
Obiang stepped up from over 30 yards out and ripping a firecracker of a strike that made a beeline for Hugo Lloris’ top comer and stunned West London, although it wasn’t quite enough for three points on that evening, it was enough for Goal of the Season, the midfielder’s first ever Hammers Player Award.
Once the first seven accolades of the evening had been allocated to their worthy recipients, one final unique Award was to be given, the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Ex-players such as the late great Irons and England captain Bobby Moore, 1966 World Cup final scorers Sir Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters, Sir Trevor Brooking and Billy Bonds from slightly later eras have all been honoured before last night’s awardee.
It would be the turn of a player from the age of those first three superstars to step up to the plate this time around in the iconic Ken Brown, who spent 14 years in East London between 1953 and 1967.
Brown is the only player to have lifted the 1957/1958 Second Division title with the East Londoners, the winning team of which was the theme of the Awards ceremony, the 1964 FA Cup and the 1965 European Cup Winners’ Cup and proudly received the Award at the age of 82 to cap off a memorable evening in the Intercontinental London’s Arora Ballroom.
See below, a list of the full eight winners and eight Awards from the 61st annual West Ham United Player Awards brought to you by Betway and in aid of the Academy on Wednesday night:
Betway Hammer Of The Year Award: Marko Arnautovic
Lifetime Achievement Award Sponsored By JM Sealant Contracts: Ken Brown
Goal Of The Season Award Sponsored By Mulalley & Co: Pedro Obiang vs Tottenham Hotspur (A) (PL)
Signing Of The Season Award sponsored By Lycamobile: Marko Arnautovic
Players’ Player Of The Season Sponsored By Peter Rayney Tax Consulting: Marko Arnautovic
Young Hammer Of The Year Sponsored By Eurostat Office Supplies: Declan Rice
Dylan Tombides Award Sponsored By Blue Cube Security: Conor Coventry
Ladies Players’ Player Of The Year sponsored By Spire London East Hospital: Ellie Zoepf.