Academy staff, players and friends gathered on Monday night to celebrate an outstanding season for City’s u18 side.
The squad, made up largely of first and second year scholars, lifted the u18 Premier League North trophy after finishing eight points clear of their nearest challengers, Everton.
Qualification for the end of season play-offs was secured as early as March, as City raced to the top of the table playing a stylish brand of incisive, attacking football.
This was an opportunity to celebrate a magnificent season for the boy Blues, and Head of Academy, Mark Allen, paid tribute to the team spirit that has been evident through the campaign.
Allen was quick to point to the achievements of the attack, which recorded a sensational 87 goals scored over 31 league games, as well as recognising the defence – City conceded just 40 goals all season, making the back line the stingiest across both North and South Leagues.
Finally, he praised the contribution of every single player in the room to what has been a fantastic season so far, with the play-off semi-final against West Ham still to come.
Head Coach, Jason Wilcox, echoed Allen’s words, saying: “Every challenge I have set them, individually and collectively, they have responded to. They have a fantastic work ethic and I am very proud.”
The evening concluded with the presentation of the season’s individual awards, starting with Goal of the Season, which went to Bersant Celina for his fantastic effort against Blackburn.
Scholar of the Year, awarded for the best performance and attitude on and off the field, was presented to James Horsfield, who moves up to the EDS next year after 11 years in the Academy.
James said: “It feels like my hard work has paid off. I’ve been working hard all year for this so it feels really good.
“I’m looking forward to going into the EDS next year and hopefully I can do well with them as well.
“The challenge of getting into the u21s is going to be difficult because they have a lot of good players. Hopefully I will be able to do that and have a successful year next year as well.”
Striker Thierry Ambrose, who has enjoyed a remarkable debut season in City colours, won the Golden Boot for his 22 goals in all competitions, and also scooped the prestigious Player of the Year Award.
Ambrose declared: “I want to say thank you to everyone who helped me win this trophy. I’m very happy.
“My favourite goal was against Fulham in the Youth Cup, because we were losing 1-0 and I scored to make it 1-1.
“But it’s not just about me, it is everyone. I’m really happy to have these guys in my team and now I want to win the play offs next week with this team.”
Brandon Barker was named as the Players’ Player of the Year, after a season in which he has terrorised opposition defences and been rewarded with a first England call up.
The 17-year-old was justifiably proud to receive the accolade, voted for by his teammates.
“It’s great achievement and I am really proud to have won the award,” the winger told mcfc.co.uk. “It shows a lot, that my teammates really believe in me and think I’m a good player.
“I wanted to score a few more goals but I have been happy and stayed fit so it’s been a good season.
“The team spirit in our team is ridiculous. We don’t know when to give up, that’s shown with the league trophy and hopefully we’ll go on and win the Nationals as well.”
To round off the awards, every member of the squad was invited onto the stage to receive their league winner’s medal, before captain Ashley Smith-Brown lifted the trophy.