Having secured promotion to the top flight last month, last weekend the AFC Bournemouth Warriors added silverware to their season by winning three trophies at the WFA End of Season Awards.
After finishing behind only Manchester United in the second tier to gain promotion to the Premiership for 2019/20, the Warriors were in attendance at Pride Park in Derby and picked up awards, being named as the Championship Team of the Year, having the Coaches of the Year as well as a personal award for Ryan Skinner who was the league’s top scorer.
After receiving their recognition, Matthew Adams, Josh Houchen, Regan Kemp and Adam Sevenoaks, four players for the Warriors, spoke with afcb.co.uk about their silver-lined campaign.
Adams started: “We had the WFA awards night at Pride Park, and as we finished runners-up in the league we thought we would go as a team. There were five of us there representing the club not knowing if we’d win.”
Championship Team of the Season Award
Kemp continued, talking of the surprise picking up the best team trophy: “We thought Manchester United would win the team of the year award, we were just really amazed when they announced our name and we’d won it. We won it because we were the best team.
“We train and focus on playing in triangles and using three defend tactics and we’ve got used to that now and it’s brought out our qualities as a collective.”
“We improved so much as the season went on,” said Adams. “The season before last we came tenth and then to push on and come second this season showed our massive improvement.”
Coaches of the Season Award
With the strong play on the pitch comes strong coaching off it, and the efforts of Hannah Powis and Alex Dowding were also recognised at the awards night.
Houchen commented: “The coaches have taught us different techniques, and techniques from a higher level. They’ve taught us ways that the Premiership players use in their games as well as how to adapt to other teams, that’s been great.
“I’m a better player now than a season ago and I’m more confident. I feel like I can try more things, like I never used to try spin shots but now I’m doing them as often as possible, I’ve even destroyed the post a few times with my shots!
“All round I think all of our players have done brilliantly, the progress we’ve all made is awesome.”
“The first year’s been good,” said Sevenoaks, who also plays for the Warriors' academy side, of his first year involved with the seniors. “The highlight for me was getting an assist in one of the Championship games, against Nottingham Forest.
“The coaches have helped me and it’s about working hard. I look at the other players to see how to improve, I know I still need to work on my aggression.”
Very proud to have three awards at this evening's @The_WFA End of Season Awards@afcbournemouth won Championship Team of the Season, our coaching staff win Coaches of the Year and Ryan Skinner picks up the Top Goalscorer Award! @AFCBusiness @PLCommunities pic.twitter.com/z1EFAm6kCW— AFCB Community (@AFCBCommunity) June 8, 2019
Top Goalscorer for Ryan Skinner
With an impressive 34 goals, Skinner was six strikes ahead of Manchester United’s Jordan Duke in the top scorer stakes across the season, with his team-mates talking about their talisman’s strengths.
Houchen said: “He just shoots on target and he reads the play so well, better than most players.
“He also has great team-mates that set him up!” added Adams.
First season in the top division
Attentions are already turning to next season and the new challenges awaiting against the big guns in the Muscular Dystrophy UK Premiership, with the players confident they’ll be able to compete.
Adams said: “We’re ready to go up and try to be with the better players and teams – we’re going to learn quite a lot next season.”
“We already are as good as a lot of them,” said Houchen. “It’s a confidence thing, we’ve always made progress because we’ve been promoted before and had to adapt and learn against teams better than us. We’ll do that again I think and overcome the challenges.”
While Kemp already has eyes on showing the rest of the continent what the Warriors can do: “We think about the next level with qualifying for Europe, we could get up there in a couple of years and show all the teams how we play and how good we are.”