- IRN-BRU SFL Phenomenal First Division Manager of the Month – Barry Smith (Dundee)
- IRN-BRU SFL Phenomenal Second Division Manager of the Month – Colin Cameron (Cowdenbeath)
- IRN-BRU SFL Phenomenal Third Division Manager of the Month – Ian Little (Berwick Rangers)
- IRN-BRU SFL Phenomenal Player of the Month – Nicky Riley (Dundee)
- IRN-BRU SFL Phenomenal Young Player of the Month – Ryan Donnelly (Airdrie United)
- IRN-BRU SFL Ginger Boot Winner – To be announced
- Goal of the Month – Gavin Brown (Clyde)
IRN-BRU Phenomenal First Division Manager of the Month – Barry Smith (Dundee)
Dundee boss Barry Smith’s parents will have something other than Christmas Cards to place on their mantelpiece during the festive period after the Dark Blues’ Manager was awarded the IRN-BRU SFL Phenomenal First Division Manager of the Month for November.
Smith said: “Everything I have been awarded during my football career either as a player or as a Manager, I give to my parents to look after. I treasure anything I have received but I have been getting them to look after things for 20 years now and I am not going to change.”
The Dens Park Manager’s mum and dad may need to invest in a bigger shelf above the fireplace as Smith’s award is the fourth monthly honour he has picked up since taking over the managerial reins when Dundee were placed into Administration a year past October.
Smith was also awarded the IRN-BRU SFL Phenomenal Achievement of the 2010/11 season for his efforts in guiding a depleted squad to a 23 game unbeaten run to ensure relegation was avoided despite a 25 points deduction that was imposed by the SFL.
This campaign got off to a slow start for Dundee however, despite his relative inexperience, Smith remained calm saying: “Performances were always of a good standard but we were failing to take our chances so there was never any panic even when we went bottom of the table. The players went away and worked hard on the training ground and things fell into place and everyone at the club deserves credit for the work they put in.
“Gavin Rae joined us a couple of months ago and undoubtedly a player of his experience will help your side but everyone stuck to what they were asked to do and things turned for us.”
November saw Dundee start the month in bottom place however, that changed with a hard fought 1-0 success over Raith Rovers before a 2-1 win at Morton. Smith defeated his former mentor Jocky Scott’s Stirling Albion side 2-1 in a Scottish Cup tie before seeing off Falkirk 4-2 to end the month on a high and in third spot in the ultra competitive First Division.
The result over The Bairns was the most satisfying with Smith saying: “Falkirk had been doing really well all season and I knew if we beat them, the players would take a huge lift from it. All games in the First Division are difficult but beating the side in second place was great. Doing the right things brought us success but confidence in football is a massive thing.”
Smith’s side showed what confidence can do when Dundee won their first game of December 6-1 at Hamilton to move the club 11 points behind leaders Ross County however, there is no talk of a title challenge from the man who led Dundee on a 23 game unbeaten run last season.
“We will look to win the games we play in and see where that takes us,” said Smith before adding, “There are over 20 games to go in this season and it is way too early to say we will do this or do that.”
IRN-BRU Phenomenal Second Division Manager of the Month – Colin Cameron (Cowdenbeath)
Cowdenbeath’s Player/Manager, Colin Cameron, grabbed his second IRN-BRU SFL Phenomenal Second Division Manager of the Month Award when he was picked after an unbeaten November that saw League wins over promotion rivals East Fife and Stenhousemuir, Scottish Cup progression at the hands of Junior side Bo’ness United as well as a draw with an ever improving Dumbarton side.
Cameron said: “Just like the first one I picked up a couple of months ago, the credit for this award goes to the players. We had a good month where we have continued to keep a slight advantage over Arbroath and came through a tricky tie where we were on a hiding to nothing.”
“Hopefully, the players can keep that going because if they keep doing what they have been doing, they cannot fail to be in a position to win something.”
The former Scotland internationalist is hoping that the recent stormy weather is a thing of the past saying: “We have got into a routine over recent weeks but the weather has been and will continue to be a real test of that routine over the next couple of months. It is important that we keep on training, although you have to be flexible and switch things around a bit.
“The players have adapted well so We even lost a dug-out last week due to the wind and that gives you an indication of how wild it has been.”
Cameron, of course, has a dual role at the club and he is in no hurry to give up his playing days saying: “I am still enjoying the playing side of things and as long as I still do that, I will continue to do it. Results have shown how much the players are giving me whether I am on the park or off it and if they keep doing that until the end of the season, I hope they get a good reward.”
The former Heart of Midlothian player will need to start preparing his men this month for a Scottish Cup tie against Hibernian at Central Park and whilst other people may well be getting excited about the prospect of facing a SPL side, Cameron is playing things down saying, “The cup tie against Hibs is on a back burner just now. There are lots of games to go before then. I want us to be going into that one as the top side in the Second Division but it is that old adage – one game at a time as far as I am concerned.”
IRN-BRU Phenomenal Player of the Month – Nicky Riley (Dundee)
Winger Nicky Riley made it a double celebration for Dundee when he was selected as the IRN-BRU SFL Phenomenal Player of the Month for November after a series of dazzling displays on the wing to join Manager Barry Smith on the winners’ rostrum.
Riley played every minute of the Dark Blues’ wins over Raith Rovers, Morton and Falkirk and the 25-year-old recognises that he is able to show his best form now that he has established himself as regular player at senior level.
The Edinburgh born player started his career at Celtic in the Martin O’Neill days and he featured in several first team squads when Gordon Strachan was in charge at Parkhead as well as playing in pre-season friendlies in green and white hoops. An injury put paid to his time as a Celt and Riley moved on to Hamilton Academical early last year however, he never established himself at New Douglas Park and he joined Dundee last summer.
“Dundee took me in even though I had not played a lot of football and I was looking to get myself going again. I am now feeling the benefit of having a full season of games behind me. Playing every week makes you fitter and sharper.”
Since then he has blossomed with Riley saying, “This is the first Award of my career and it came as a total surprise. It is great to get this recognition but there are probably a few Dundee players that could be recognised as we have put some good results together recently.”
“We started the season playing okay but results were not great as we were not taking chances. This division is so tight that if you do that for a few games, you slip down and that is what happened to us. When the goals started going in, results picked up and we are now on a great run of six games unbeaten now. ”
Riley was more of a creator in November than goal-grabber himself as he explained: “I set up a few goals and being a wide Player, the Manager wants me to get crosses into the box. I enjoy doing that especially when young guys like Steven Milne and Jake Hyde are waiting for them. We have really gelled up front and I enjoy my role in creating chances for the guys, although I do want to pitch in with a few more goals as well.”
“I have got three so far this season and two of them have been in our last couple of games so hopefully, that is a good sign for the rest of the season.”
The Award winner will sit out this weekend’s key clash with First Division leaders Ross County through suspension but he will be kicking every ball on the sidelines as he explained: “I am going up with the boys and of course, I am disappointed at not playing. There are good players here that can come in and take my place and look to keep our good run going. County like to play football and hopefully the weather will be kind to everyone and we have a great game and one where we can get a good result.”
Goal of the Month – Gavin Brown (Clyde)
Clyde’s Gavin Brown netted the pick of the goals when the Bully Wee defeated East Stirlingshire 7-1 and his strike was also the top pick in the latest Goal of the Month competition on the SFL’s website SFL.TV station.
The former Kilmarnock player cut in from the right hand side of the pitch and sent a rasping drive off the underside of the bar and past Calum Antell from the edge of the box to put his side 2-0 up.
Ironically it was Brown’s first ever senior goal and he said, “I have never scored before so to break my duck with a bit of a wonder goal was a bit special. I have been with Clyde since the early part of this year and my last goal came in an Under-19 match against Celtic for Kilmarnock.”
“I had hit one just like it on training on Thursday night before we played East Stirling and I was really delighted that I showed everyone that was not a lucky hit by doing the same thing again.”
Brown admitted he was lucky still to be on the pitch when he hit home his screamer saying, “I felt my groin go in the first five minutes and had been talking about coming off but I decided to keep on going and I am delighted that I did.”
“It was great to be part of a 7-1 success, great to score and great to be chosen as the SFL Goal of the Month.”
The Shire do have a reason to smile as well as Ally Love’s thunderbolt against Queen’s Park came in second place and James Forrest’s first goal against Hibernian in the Scottish Communities League Cup came in third.