Maitland Magpies attacking midfielder Jimmy Thompson has been voted by his peers as the Northern NSW NPL's best in 2021.
Thompson took out the NNSW NPL players' player award and finished narrowly behind Edgeworth striker Jeremy Brockie who was named the Graham Jennings Medal winner as the NNSW NPL player of the year on Friday.
Maitland coach Mick Bolch and Lambton Jaffas premiership-winning mentor Shane Pryce shared coach of the year honours.
Thompson, outgoing skipper Carl Thornton and Bolch were all named in the NPL team of the year.
IN THE NEWS
In a huge result for the Magpies women's team, Bronte Peel was named WPL young player of the year.
Named in the WPL team of the year, Peel was fifth on the goal kicking table with 10 goals for the season. Her teammate Mercedes McNabb was 10th with seven goals.
It was a tremendous finish to the Magpies Herald WPL campaign which saw the club claim the Women's State Cup in their first year under the Magpies banner after previously playing as the Thornton Redbacks.
Bolch said the players' player award was fitting recognition by his peers of Thompson's outstanding season.
He said full credit to Brockie but he believed Thompson was the best player all season in the competition.
"The players' player award is a brilliant award. It is voted on by your peers. To win that I think as a player is the most prestigious award as the players who you compete against week in week out vote you the best player of the season," Bolch said.
"Jimmy's improvement as a player and as a leader of the past 18 months has been exceptional and it's due reward for what he has been doing with the group."
Bolch said the coach's award was really recognition of the entire coaching group especially Gavin Wolf and Nick Webb the assistant first grade coaches as well as Reserves coach Mick Kirby.
"The coaches we've got there I wouldn't change with anyone," Bolch said.
"I think what we've done over the past 12 months has taken us to another level and it's due to their input and views. I haven't worked with a better group."
Bolch said it was all about buying into what the club wanted to do and the young players who came to the club this season did that.
"There's a list of five or six of them. The young guys who came into the club, they've got the right work ethic and the right character and that's what we're trying to build through club," he said.
"It shows not just in the results on the field but the culture of the club and that's just improved out of sight.
"The whole top three senior sides were in semi-finals spots and two of the youth teams were in semi-finals positions. The women's program won the State Cup which is a great first up year with the WPL.
"That's what you want to see.
"I think in the moment it's in better shape than ever on and off the field."
Bolch said he was pleased with the club's position and that it set up well for success into the future.
"For me as a coach you need to set up somewhere where players want to come and play, whether it's the winning mentality, the culture, the coaching or the playing group you've got and people want to play around," he said.
"I think at the moment, particularly with the playing group with Jimmy Thompson, Braedyn Crowley, Zach Thomas and Sean Pratt these are the players other players want to play with.
"I think we've got a really good balance going forward."
Bolch said Kirby had done a fantastic job this season to take the club to equal first and produce players ready to play first grade.
"Mick Kirby has done a fantastic job. The previous year was a bit of a struggle, but this year they finished equal first," he said.
"He is bringing quality young players through such as young Dylan Walker who have had first grade experience and their leadership with the likes of Benny Martin has been really good at underpinning the squad for the first grade group."
Bolch expects to start preseason in mid-November as the 2022 season starts on March 5 with the addition of Cooks Square to the league.
"Even with only one extra team, it is an extra four rounds as you play them twice and you've got two byes," he said.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.