St Leonards CP congregated at Sussex Exchange to celebrate its 12th annual dinner dance, celebrating a season that saw them finish fourth in Sussex Division 3 and play an unprecedented 28 games.
Proceedings were led by Chairman Paul Smart and Team-manager Gavin Thomas. Smart opened proceedings capturing the highlights of the season. Notable wins against local rivals Hastings & Bexhill and Rye were discussed, as were further flung victories against Metropolitan Police and Hayes RFC.
Smart thanked the work of Thomas, skipper Murray Warman and senior player Steve Hall.
Thomas then identified the importance of fulfilling 28 fixtures, a hugely impressive feat for a club at Ports’ level with limited playing resources.
He then presented Smart with a tankard celebrating his 200th game for Ports which he reached in the 31-29 victory over Hastings.
This quickly led into the awards. Thomas presented George Upton with Top Try Scorer for his amazing haul of 30 tries in 19 games. Smart then gave Luke Barningham top points scorer for his record breaking total of 196 points.
Smart and Thomas then discussed the importance of most improved player, recognising the fact as a small club improving players is key to success. A shortlist of winger Will Steele, utility back Mike Hutchins and lock Josh Storey were named, with the hard hitting Storey picking up the trophy.
Young player of the year was presented by Smart, nominations included outside half Henry Hill, mercurial winger Max Olujobi and flyer Joe Whitehill-James who claimed the prize for his all-action style.
Thomas handed out the next award for best new player with the lightning paced Olujobi taking the prize in his first season of adult rugby.
This led to the Players’ Player award, a shortlist comprising Barningham, Upton, Storey, Hill, Hutchin, second rower Ashley Mountain and skipper and record club try scorer Murray Warman were discussed. Third place was given to Barningham, his record breaking points haul defining a hard counter attacking style of play. Storey claimed runner-up for a season of hard graft in the less glamourous elements of the game before the Players’ Player award was presented to George Upton. The back rower winning the plaudits for a season characterised by destructive tackling, fantastic breakdown play and hard running.