Gregan is the prize guy!

Reporter: Matthew Chambers
Date published: 29 April 2010

Captain’s night of honour

CAPTAIN fantastic Sean Gregan has cleaned up at Athletic’s player of the season awards.

The 36-year-old centre-back’s outstanding campaign was recognised at the start of last night’s celebration dinner at the Queen Elizabeth Hall as he claimed gongs from his fellow players, fans and Trust Oldham.

Gregan, who signed a new one-year contract to stick with Athletic for next season, has been a rock at the heart of a defence which has stayed relatively solid despite a difficult Coca-Cola League One campaign in which the club only secured their status by gaining a draw against Southend United last week.

Following on from a difficult year in his personal life which included a split from his wife and a drink-drive charge which was later thrown out of court, it marks a terrific recovery from the former Preston North End and Leeds United man, who was released by Athletic in the summer before subsequently re-signing to work under boss Dave Penney.

The other player to gain recognition at last night’s packed-out event was Dale Stephens.

At 20 years of age, the central midfielder — who spent a short period on loan at Rochdale in the early part of this season — has performed superbly following a call-up to the first-team ranks in December as a result of an injury crisis.

The ex-Bury player has since blossomed to become one of the first names on Penney’s team sheet and Stephens was named as the club’s young player of the year as a result of his efforts.

A host of players from the ‘pinch me’ season of 1989-90 were present at the big event.

Former manager Joe Royle gave a rousing speech and there were appearances on stage from Ian Marshall, over from his Canada home, Rick Holden, Andy Ritchie and Earl Barrett among others (see Page 5).

Meanwhile, young winger Kirk Millar has signed professional terms with Athletic.

The 17-year-old from Northern Ireland, still only a first-year scholar, follows in the footsteps of youth team colleagues Djeny Bembo-Leta and Philip McGrath in committing to the club.

Of the four scholars offered pro deals for next season, only striker Tom Eaves has yet to sign a contract.