VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE – MANAGER OF THE MONTH
Matthew Bates- Hartlepool United
Hartlepool United will look back and be thankful for goings on in March after earning eleven points in their bid for National League survival.
Matthew Bates was brought in to put out a fire with the Pools struggling for form and having parted company with manager Craig Harrison.
After relegation last season, fears were growing of another big fight – but Bates not only steadied the ship, he shot the club up the table.
March actually started slowly with a 2-1 defeat at Aldershot but the tide soon turned. Holding promotion hopefuls Boreham Wood and AFC Fylde to a draw, coming back from the dead at Mill Farm, set the tone.
Those points proved to be a catalyst for a three-match winning streak, with victories at Barrow, at home to Bromley and then at Maidstone United left Bates delighted – and with an award in his hands.
April hasn’t started in such an impressive way but the Pools may look back and be thankful for their unbeaten five-game period.
VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE – PLAYER OF THE MONTH
Mitch Walker – Dover Athletic
Dependable number one Mitch Walker has been an ever-present for Dover Athletic in recent seasons and this campaign has been no different.
March saw the Whites pick up three important wins and a draw as they climbed back into the National League’s top seven.
Leyton Orient, Chester and, most impressively, leaders Macclesfield Town were all beaten during the month with all three clubs – plus Barrow – unable to find a way past Walker.
Four clean sheets in five matches were undoubtedly the foundation Dover needed and Walker’s showings were a big reason for those. A consistent goalkeeper is a key ingredient needed to compete at the top and the Whites are lucky to possess one of the division’s best.
Walker’s triple save against Leyton Orient at the start of March was a highlight and helped set the tone for a successful month that has got Chris Kinnear’s men dreaming of promotion yet again.
VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE – VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH
Chrissie Thompson – Macclesfield Town
Chrissie Thompson has won Volunteer of the Month for February in the Vanarama National League.
Having volunteered and been a season ticket holder at Moss Rose for many years, she plays a key role in organising and mentoring a number of the club’s other volunteers.
Chrissie covers reception duties, which is regarded as a vital job at the football club. She is more than often the first point of contact that someone can have with the club – and Chrissie helps to make sure they are met in a friendly manner and their query is dealt with efficiently.
She is also a board member of the clubs’ supporters trust so is a key contact for the club and trust as she knows many of the fans.
VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NORTH – MANAGER OF THE MONTH
Kevin Wilkin – Brackley Town
It’s fair to say Kevin Wilkin has had worse months. He took Brackley Town to Wembley for the first time in their history and kept his team in the National League title hunt in the process.
The Saints’ two-legged win over Wealdstone was very convincing – and Bromley will need to put in a massive performance in the FA Trophy final to stop them enjoying their greatest moment.
Six wins in March mean there was little doubt the former Wrexham boss would take the award.
National League North victories over Boston United, Stockport County and plus an excellent draw with then leaders Harrogate Town means it was a near perfect month.
Wilkin says he knew back in July that his squad were capable of doing something special in the ten months to come.
Brackley could just be about to make this the club’s best ever season.
VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NORTH – PLAYER OF THE MONTH
Jimmy Ball– Stockport County
Stockport County are hitting top form at just the right time. The Hatters have now won six National League North games in a row and a run of four victories towards the end of March helped lay the foundations.
Jim Gannon’s men bounced back from defeats to Brackley Town in both the FA Trophy and league to give themselves a fantastic chance of securing a play-off spot.
One of County’s stand out men in March was midfielder Jimmy Ball. Despite the scoring prowess of Jason Oswell and Matthew Warburton, Ball chipped in with four goals of his own during the month.
Crucial winners at Gainsborough Trinity and Bradford Park Avenue, and a brace against Leamington, caught the eye. Ball has been given licence to get forward from a deeper midfield role and he has taken full of advantage to help drive County forward towards a top seven place.
VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE NORTH – VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH
Tony Sheldon – Salford City
Tony Sheldon of Salford City has won March’s Volunteer of the Month for the Vanarama National League North.
Tony has run the Salford City club shop for many years and many visitors take the time to record their appreciation for his friendly and personable approach.
Although he loves to watch games, his match day duties often prevent him from doing so, yet his commitment to the cause has not wavered.
An old-fashioned ‘club-man’ of the highest order whose approach has not been altered by the club’s new era of professionalism.
Recently he has defied health issues to continue in his role and the club think the world of him.
VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH – MANAGER OF THE MONTH
Lee Bradbury – Havant & Waterlooville
He’s loving every minute at the moment, but Lee Bradbury won’t have fond memories of his previous experience in the National League South.
The last time he was here it ended in a way he would much rather forget as play-off hopes ended in relegation.
But Havant & Waterlooville stuck by their man. A year later, they won the Ryman Premier and ten months on the Hawks are absolutely flying back in the division which treated them so badly back in 2016.
In their six games in March they let in just two goals and won four matches – the big one being away to Bath City but success against Wealdstone, Weston Super Mare and at an in-form Oxford City can’t be underestimated.
Now the big question is if Bradbury can take the team up to the fifth tier for the first time in the Hawks’ long history.
VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH – PLAYER OF THE MONTH
Cody Cooke – Truro City
Not many players at Truro City know what promotion would mean more than local lad Cody Cooke.
Last year’s player of the season has continued his good form and it’s no surprise that Football League clubs are keeping an eye on his progress. But his focus remains completely on Truro as the White Tigers look to secure a place in the National League South’s top seven.
Cooke has played over 250 times for his local club and starred in March as City picked up four big wins to give their play-off hopes a huge boost.
The 25-year-old scored in the win over Eastbourne Borough and was a constant menace as the Cornish outfit beat promotion rivals Havant & Waterlooville, Chelmsford City and St Albans City.
Truro have a big few weeks ahead of them and one thing’s for sure – Cooke will be instrumental in any success they have this term.
VANARAMA NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH – VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH
Mick and Margaret Stephens – East Thurrock United
Mick and Margaret Stephens of East Thurrock United have won March’s Volunteer of the Month for the Vanarama National League South.
Mick has been part of the club since 2002 and now, at 76, still spends most days there looking after the pitch, carrying out all the routine maintenance jobs including electrical and plumbing repairs, carpentry and other jobs.
Mick works tirelessly, for nothing other than enjoyment. His wife, Margaret is instrumental too on match days with her hospitality, warmth of welcome and kindness to match officials and visitors.
Mick’s also a fundraiser, running the 50-50 competition and selling programmes on match days. Despite suffering a mild stroke, he checked in to make sure the club were OK whilst he was recovering and still attended matches.
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