The following news release was issued by WaiBOP United on Friday. Scott Hilliar played his junior football in Matamata.

Full back Scott Hilliar has capped a fine 2015/16 ASB Premiership season for Loaded WaiBOP United by winning the franchise’s Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year awards, which were announced on Friday March 18.

Hilliar, previously a national age group champion on the athletics track over 800 metres, was formerly a midfielder before being moved to right back at the start of the 2015/16 season. Making use of his natural athletic abilities and willingness for hard work, Hilliar became a fixture on the right of United’s back four, defending strongly and getting forward at every opportunity.

His ability, along with his popularity among the playing squad, also saw Hilliar win the players vote.

Head Coach, Peter Smith, said Hilliar’s awards were recognition of a fine season. “We were a young, fresh, new side this season and Scott pretty much embodied this,” said Smith. “I remember sitting down with him before he signed and talking about where he would play. He was adamant that right back was where he’d like to be and where we’d get the best from him. It made a lot of sense to me at the time and, for anyone who watched us play this summer, they’ll know it turned out to be a pretty good decision.”

Hilliar started every game during the summer and played virtually every minute, only missing the dying stages of the team’s match at Team Wellington.

Leading goal scorer, Stephen Hoyle, was also a double award winner after being voted the Fans’ Player of the Year, following record voting. Hoyle started the season slowly after having his face fractured during pre-season, but ended up reaching double figures on the scoring front with his tenth goal of the season in the franchise’s final ever game at Auckland City.

Hoyle was also a close winner of the Fan’s Player of the Year after fierce voting. Seven players received votes this year, underlining the popularity of the team’s players with the fans. Several of the players, including Hoyle, were involved in coaching programmes across the region, which helped with engagement, particular among young fans.

Smith was pleased with Hoyle’s recognition by the team’s fans. “Obviously we signed Stephen as a goal scorer and that’s exactly the job he did for us,” said Smith. “But more than that, his effort and work rate helped create opportunities, which was great for the team, and were clearly appreciated by the fans.”

Captain, Adam Mitchell, won the award for Young Player of the Year. Mitchell cruelly missed several key matches during the later stages of the season after dislocating his shoulder during the 5-0 home win over Waitakere United. He was a key leader in the squad, both on and off the field, and a strong presence in the heart of the back four.

“It’s amazing to think Adam is still not yet 20,” said Smith. “His maturity marks him as someone who seems much older. He was immense for us at the back and the injury was a massive shame, both for him and the team. Our results during his absence proved how important he was to the side.”

Photo: Photosport (Supplied by WaiBOP United).