Arca bags top accolade at awards!

By David Watters

Julio Arca rolled back the years on Sunday night to collect the coveted 'EVO-STIK NPL Show Fans Player of the Year' accolade at the Northern Premier League's 2018 Player of the Year Awards.

The 37-year-old former Sunderland and Middlesbrough midfielder, pictured, was among nearly 40 players honoured by Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder at the seventh running of the annual awards, still unique in the top levels of Non-League football with the winners chosen by the league's managers and fans.

After guiding the Blades to a 1-1 draw with Millwall in the Championship on Saturday, former Non-League boss Wilder was on stage at the plush Brooklands Holiday Inn near Barnsley to reward the stars of the EVO-STIK League's 50th anniversary 2017-18 season.

As well as naming Altrincham's Jordan Hulme and Basford United's Liam Hearn as the two runners-up for the fans' award behind South Shields star Arca, former Alfreton, Halifax town, Oxford United and Northampton boss Wilder also unveiled a 'Player of the Year' and 'Young Player of Year' in each of the NPL’s three divisions as well the players chosen in three ‘Teams of the Year’.

More than 300 hundred guests at the awards ceremony, broadcast live on Facebook and Twitter for the second season running, saw Altrincham's Jordan Hulme, Scarborough Athletic’s Michael Coulson and Basford United's Liam Hearn collect the top 'Player of the Year' accolades in the EV0-STIK League's top flight and North and South divisions respectively.

Colne’s Alex Curran, Corby Town’s Jordan Crawford and Warrington Town's Dylan Vassallo collected their division's respective 'Young Player of the Year' honours while the competition's next generation of stars coming through the the NPL Football Academy were also at the event for the third year running.

Another Warrington Town winner, midfielder Aron McGrath beat Mickleover's Morgan Williams and Ossett Albion's Ben Harley into second and third place respectively for the NPLFA's 'Player of the Year' award after the unveiling of the ground-breaking academy's 'Team of the Year'.

Sunday night's ceremony also saw the NPL unveil its 'Top 100 Players of all time' and 'Team of All Time' as part of the competition's NPL50 celebrations this season. Originally the brainchild of NPL stalwart Alan Ogley, the event also the former Manchester City and Stockport County keeper present Phil Wilson with the '2018 Founder's Award' to mark his title and cup winning achievements as a player at Runcorn, Altrincham, Mossley and Northwich and as a manager at Barrow, Lancaster City, Leek, Southport and Stalybridge Celtic.

Images courtesy of @evostikleague/Twitter

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Where next?

Monday's South Division action review Frickley Athletic are assured a top six finish in the EVO-STIK League South, while Leek Town moved to within three points of the play-off places after winning away from home on Monday night, writes Pitchero's Steve Whitney.
Saturday's North Division action review Most teams in EVO-STIK League North have at least four games of the 2017-18 season left to play and there's still plenty to compete for, writes Pirchero's Steve Whitney.

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