Wollongong Wolves’ Thomas James and Bankstown City FC’s Vesna Milivojevic were the talk of the 2019 National Premier Leagues Gold Medal Dinner after taking out the Player of the Year honours at the Doltone House, Jones Bay Wharf precinct on Friday 13th of September.
Players, coaches, officials as well as high profile guests attended what was a fantastic evening acknowledging the achievements from the top tier National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s and Women’s seasons.
It was a fantastic season for both males and females as they got together in a monumental evening where over 360 guests attended with the night proudly presented by Simon Hill.
There were a number of special guests which included; Lynda Voltz, Member for Auburn and Shadow Minister for Sport and Recreation, Dr Hugh McDermott, Member for Prospect, Federal MP Jason Falinski, Member for Mackellar, former Socceroo legend Les Scheinflug, FFA Chairman Chris Nikou, Hyundai A-League/W-League Head Greg O’Rourke, Western Sydney Wanderers CEO John Tsatsimas, Sydney FC CEO Danny Townsend, Macarthur FC Chairman Rabieh Krayem along with the Football NSW Board.
The Club Championship awards were one of the first awards of the evening with Sydney University wrapping yet another one in the NPL NSW Women’s category while for a record breaking 15th time, Blacktown City were top of the trumps in the Men’s category.
Referees were honoured soon after as Ben Abraham took out the NPL NSW Men’s category after a sterling season which also saw him earn a spot into the 2019/2020 Hyundai A-League referees panel. Isabella Libri clinched top honours in the NPL NSW Women’s category and she too caught the attention of the W-League this time, pushing her cause as a fourth official which was an amazing honour for the Southern Districts Soccer Referees representative.
The announcement of the Player of the Year and Golden Boot winners in the Under 20/Reserve grade competition were up next and what a season it was for both categories.
NWS Koalas’ Tahlia Macri took out the honours in the Women’s Reserve grade notching up an incredible 33 goals while Rockdale City Suns’ James Cakovski took out the 20 Men’s scoring 13 for the year.
The Player of the Year awards were up next and Sydney University’s Maxine Peak grabbed all the plaudits for an outstanding year in the 20’s while Blacktown City’s Suleyman Bangura stood out from the rest of the pack in a big season. No doubt these two players will be knocking on the senior doors for first grade contracts in season 2020 with both already earning minutes in their senior squads this year.
Goalkeepers were next on the awards block and it was Northern Tigers’ quality shotstopper Eliza Campbell who took out the NPL NSW Women’s category in what was an impressive year for the gun custodian. Mt Druitt Town Rangers’ skipper and number one Carlos Saliadarre was next up and clinched his respective award after he guided the newly promoted NPL NSW Men’s club to safety and more with the club just finishing outside a top five finals spot.
The Golden Boot award winners were announced soon after.
The ‘Debbie Tait’ Award for the NPL NSW Women’s Golden Boot was awarded to Sydney Olympic’s starlet and Young Matilda Susan Phonsongkham who scored 20 goals for the year.
Finally, in the NPL Men’s category, it was a tight contest but Wollongong Wolves’ English star Thomas James came through on the final day of round 22 matches, scoring 22 goals, one more than his nearest rival in APIA Leichhardt Tigers’ Chris Payne.
It was onto the NPL NSW Men’s ‘Goal of the Year’ award and after 22 rounds there was only one clear winner. In what was a stunning year for goals it came from an unlikely source, Wollongong Wolves defender Nikola Djordjevic for his outrageous ‘scorpion’ goal that went viral against the Sutherland Sharks in round 8 of the competition. It was to be the second successive year Football NSW’s Goal of the Year would be in the form of a scorpion kick after Sydney Olympic defender Thomas Whiteside took it out in 2018.
The Coach of the Year category was next with Northern Tigers’ NPL NSW Women’s manager Jason Eagar getting the nod from his fellow peers. It was a great year for Eagar and his team after guiding his side to the finals series, just missing out on silverware at the big dance. Wollongong Wolves’ well known and travelled coach Luke Wilkshire took out the male category after a huge season clinching the Premiership. In his debut season as a head coach, Wilkshire used all his experience as a former Socceroo that spearheaded his side with not only a Premiership but winning a passage to the 2019 NPL Finals Series representing NSW with the opportunity to be crowned the Champion NPL club across Australia.
The time had come for the Player of the Year awards in what was the crucial part of the evening as the suspense was at boiling point for all players involved.
Once again, the clubs voted in a 3-2-1 system after each team put forward their best two players for the 2019 season.
Things were tight in the NPL NSW Women’s category however it was Bankstown City’s Vesna Milivojevic who was quite simply outstanding and a shining light in what was an otherwise tough year for the club. Although finishing tenth on the overall ladder, Milivojevic was the heart and soul of the Bankstown squad, scoring goals on cue as well as providing them for her fellow teammates.
The stage was set for the final award of the evening and that was the prestigious NPL NSW Men’s award for 2019, the Gold Medal.
After 22 rounds the award was presented to Wollongong Wolves’ Thomas James, who collected his second award of the evening.
James was outstanding in his debut NPL NSW Men’s season after being plucked from the ACT Premier League, he paid back the faith coach Luke Wilkshire had in him with a fine season.
Scoring goals was his main attribute but his work ethic and willingness to win at all costs was also another quality James possessed in what was a huge season for the Lincolnshire lad.
James beat the likes of APIA Leichhardt Tigers’ Franco Parisi, Mt Druitt Town Rangers Fabricio Fernandes and Marconi’s Marko Jesic for the big prize and was truly humbled to have won such an accolade.
2019 Premier Leagues Award Winners
Fair Play Award
NPL NSW Men’s – Sydney FC
NSW Women’s – North Shore Mariners
NPL NSW Men’s – Blacktown City
NSW Women’s – Sydney University
Referee of the Year
NPL NSW Women’s – Isabella Libri
NPL NSW Men’s – Ben Abraham
Goalkeeper of the Year
NPL NSW Women’s – Eliza Campbell (Northern Tigers)
NPL NSW Men’s – Carlos Saliadarre (Mt Druitt Town Rangers)
Golden Boot Awards
NPL NSW Men’s 2 20’s – James Cakovski (Rockdale City Suns) – 13 goals
NSW Women’s Reserves – Tahlia Macri (NWS Koalas) – 33 goals
NPL NSW Women’s – Susan Phonsongkham (Sydney Olympic) – 20 goals
NPL NSW Men’s – Thomas James (Wollongong Wolves) – 22 goals
Coach of the Year
NSW Women’s – Jason Eagar (Northern Tigers)
NPL NSW Men’s – Luke Wilkshire (Wollongong Wolves)
NPL NSW Men’s Goal of the Year
NPL NSW Men’s – Nikola Djordjevic (Wollongong Wolves)
Player of the Year
NPL Women’s Reserves – Maxine Peak (Sydney University)
NPL NSW Men’s 20’s – Suleyman Bangura (Blacktown City)
NPL NSW Women’s – Vesna Milivojevic (Bankstown City)
NPL NSW Men’s – Thomas James (Wollongong Wolves)
-Football NSW Media Release