The IRN-BRU Phenomenal Award winners have been named for the month of December. After much debate, a judging panel consisting of respresentatives from the Scottish media decided upon the winners.
The winners for December are:
- FIRST DIVISION MANAGER OF THE MONTH: JOCKY SCOTT (DUNDEE FC)
- SECOND DIVISION MANAGER OF THE MONTH: ALLAN MAITLAND (ALLOA ATHLETIC FC)
- THIRD DIVISION MANAGER OF THE MONTH: JIM McINALLY (EAST STIRLINGSHIRE FC)
- PLAYER OF THE MONTH: GARY HARKINS (DUNDEE FC)
- YOUNG PLAYER OF THE MONTH: ANDREW HALLIDAY (LIVINGSTON FC)
JOCKY SCOTT (DUNDEE FC)
Dundee Manager Jocky Scott grabbed a hat-trick when he was named as the IRN-BRU Phenomenal Manager of the Month for the third time this season. Scott’s Dark Blues won four times in a row in December and drew a fifth game at Inverness Caledonian Thistle on Boxing Day, to turn a three point lead at the beginning of the month into an eight point lead by the end.
Scott said, “I am delighted to get my third award of the season as it shows that, team wise, we are doing things right. This award is not about me as it reflects well on everyone on and off the pitch that work for Dundee and emphasises that we are going about things correctly.”
The Dens Park side’s fine month came on the back of their excellent 3-2 win over Inverness Caledonian Thistle to lift The ALBA Challenge Cup at the end of November, with Scott keen to emphasise the impact that their second half performance that day in Perth has had on subsequent performances.
He said, “We were dead and buried at two down in that game. We came back out after half-time and won fantastically well. The spirit we showed was magnificent and gave everyone a lift for the next few games and that spirit was more important than winning that day in terms of how it has galvanised our efforts.”
Dundee saw off challengers Ross County and Partick Thistle on their own pitches last month and these games could prove extremely significant come the end of the season according to Scott who turns 62 on Thursday.
The three times Dundee Manager advised, “I viewed it as important to ensure that we came back from these games undefeated but to come back with six points was fantastic. It is always important to take more points from your rivals than they take from you.”
Home wins over Ayr United and Morton were also secured before the draw up at Inverness that kept Terry Butcher’s side 12 points adrift of Dundee. However, 2010 started in disappointing style for Scott as his side slipped to a 1-0 win over Airdrie United to start the New Year off with a home defeat.
Scott said, “I am obviously hoping that the Airdrie result was just a blip. For the opening period, we had well and things would have been different if we had scored from the chances we created or from the penalty that their goalkeeper saved. The players admitted afterwards that too many of them were off form so we will put it down to that and look to bounce back as soon as we get playing again.”
Dundee midfielder Gary Harkins picked up the IRN-BRU Player of the Month Award with Scott advising, “Gary has done really well since coming here and put in a lot of good performances. He scored four important goals in December and is a big part of our plans here.”
ALLAN MAITLAND (ALLOA ATHLETIC FC)
Alloa Athletic boss Allan Maitland picked up December’s IRN-BRU Phenomenal Second Division Manager of the Month Award after a fine two week spell for his side although incredibly, they played their last game on 12th December.
Maitland’s men defeated East Fife 2-0 at New Bayview and Brechin City 3-1 at Recreation Park in the League however, more importantly, they defeated Cowdenbeath 1-0 in an Active Nation Scottish Cup replay to set up their Fourth Round tie at St. Mirren.
The Recreation Park boss said, “We are a better team than last season especially defensively where we are not losing nearly as many goals. Goalkeeper David Crawford has come in and done well as has defender Scott Walker.”
Maitland is keen to add to his squad saying, “I would have loved to have kept striker Iain Russell on loan from Morton but he has returned to them. He was injured early during his loan spell with us but when he came back for his final three games, you could see his worth to the team.”
It was Maitland’s second award of the season and the wily boss added, “If I win another two before the end of the season, it will mean that Alloa are still where I want them to be at the top end of the table.”
JIM MCINALLY (EAST STIRLINGSHIRE FC)
East Stirlingshire boss Jim McInally was voted December’s IRN-BRU Phenomenal Third Division Manager of the Month after his side enjoyed a 100% record during December albeit that they only played two games.
The former Morton Manager said, “The wins in December came after two victories at the end of November so we had been on a good run until the snow stepped in. Our victory at Berwick was really important as it lifted us into second place and in a good position to put some pressure on Livingston.”
The ’Shire’s four game run came after three straight defeats in a row with McInally admitting that he had to amend his thinking slightly to get his team back on track saying, “We had been playing some great football however, we were leaving ourselves wide open to counter attacks and teams were hitting us on the break to good effect. We had to change things slightly but I have stuck to my attacking principles and we have got back on track.”
The winter break has seen McInally’s men be idle for four weeks now although he is remaining philosophical about things advising, “If we were the only team that would be playing two games a week I would be worried about it but everyone is in the same boat. Livingston will have an advantage by being the only full time team in this division but players love playing so we will just get on with things.”
GARY HARKINS (DUNDEE FC) & ANDREW HALLIDAY (LIVINGSTON FC)
The SFL’s IRN-BRU Player and Young Player of the Month for December, Dundee’s Gary Harkins and Livingston’s Andrew Halliday, came together at Hampden last Thursday to collect their awards, hoping to be facing each other on Active Nation Scottish Cup action on the Saturday, only to be told that their game had been postponed.
Halliday revealed that the players at the West Lothian club had been roped into helping out to try and beat the weather however, it was not to be and the side’s will now try again next Tuesday evening.
Halliday’s disappointment at their wasted efforts at the Almondvale ground was evident, saying, “I have just spent two hours shovelling snow off the pitch, what a waste of time that was. We were clearing it from the stand, pitch and car park but there was still a bit to go.”
Dens Park star Harkins was delighted to win his second award of the season after scoring in four consecutive games in December before blotting his copybook slightly by getting a red-card in his last encounter on Boxing Day. He netted the winner at Ross County before hitting the crucial second goal in the Dark Blues 2-0 win at Firhill over Partick Thistle and then scoring on his home turf in wins against Ayr United and Morton.
The former Blackburn Rovers, Grimsby Town and Partick Thistle player said, “This is only my second season as a regular first team player and I am still learning all the time. I have scored a few goals this month but I have missed a couple too so I will be looking to score more when I get back playing again.”
Harkins missed his side’s 1-0 defeat by Airdrie on 3rd January due to suspension following his dismissal at Inverness and he said, “One of my bookings was for rolling the ball behind me at a throw in. It was the first red card of my career and in future, I will be handing the ball over just to be sure.”
The Greenock born player reached the Quarter Final stage of the Scottish Cup two years ago when the Maryhill men took Rangers to a replay and that experience coupled with winning The ALBA Challenge Cup has left Harkins hungry for more.
The 24-year-old said, “The Quarter Final was a good experience but I would like to go further this time out. We raised our game when we faced Rangers in the Scottish Cup and that is a bit what it is like with Dundee just now as everyone is raising their game against us. Cup games relieve some of the pressure you face in the League.”
Team-mate and former Livi player Leigh Griffiths has Dundee well briefed with Harkins saying, “The ALBA Challenge Cup showed the spirit we have at Dundee and we went on a strong run after winning that and we will need to show that form against Livingston. This will not be an easy game as they are full of First Division players and we will have to match their work rate and effort to progress.”
18-year-old Halliday was delighted to receive his award all the same saying, “This is an honour and hopefully, the first of many. I am pleased with my form so far this season and after everything that went on at Livingston over the summer, we are all just pleased to be playing football.”
Halliday, who scored four times last month, made his debut as a substitute for Livingston under Mark Proctor with Paul Hegarty giving him a starting berth last term and the club’s reputation for producing players saw him plump for them after seeing dreams of a career with Rangers end.
He said, “I went to Livingston two and a half years ago because of their reputation of producing players like Graham Dorrans, Robert Snodgrass, James McPake and Griffiths. I started off at Rangers when I was only nine, playing alongside John Fleck and Danny Wilson but it did not work out as I had problems with my knees when I was only 13. I played against Ajax and youth sides like that but the injuries meant that I was not offered a contract.”
The injuries turned out to be a blessing in disguise with Halliday adding, “In hindsight, it was the best thing that has happened to me as I have made the first team at Livingston and I would probably not have done that at Rangers. I gave up the game for two weeks but Livingston coaxed me back in and the Jacobs’ triplets had swapped over from Murray Park and they helped me settle in.”
Charlton Athletic have already been credited with an interest in the youngster with Halliday adding, “I was meant to be going down there for a trial but we then had all the abandonments and postponements with Clyde. I have not heard any more and if it happens, it happens, but I am happy at Livingston just now.”