Hot prospect Peter Innes has crowned an excellent season by being named the first ever Under 19’s Player of the Year.
The youth Captain picked up the inaugural Gordon Russell Trophy, named in honour of a late fan who appreciated the Steelmen’s record of producing young Scottish talent, at last Wednesday’s amazing 6-6 draw with Hibs at Fir Park.
And Gordon Young, Motherwell’s Head of Youth Development, explained how the award came about and how the winner was chosen.
“Firstly, I want to say how pleased I am that we now have a trophy to present to the Under 19’s team,” he said.
“We only have two senior teams at the club and we rightly recognise the cream of our first-team players. I think it is also right we acknowledge the best of our youth team players.
“Peter has won it for the first time and I think few would argue with the result. The process of choosing the winner was pretty in-depth.
“Every week the Under 19’s play, the opposition coach and I nominate our best player and their best player. I decided I would contact the SPL and get a list of all the coaches’ picks. I then gave every player and every member of staff, who watch the games on a regular basis, a vote.
“Peter was, by far and away, the winner and came out on top on all polls that were taken.”
Young also reflected on the role of Innes who has turned his career and his life around in the last twelve months to become the influential figure in the youth side.
He said: “It must be very pleasing for Peter to be recognised as he is often asked to do the less glamorous side of the game that is so vital but often unnoticed. Having said that, his game has came on so much that we’ve asked him not to be just a sitting midfield player at the age of eighteen – he can be that when he’s thirty.
“We encourage him to get forward; I’d still like him to score more goals. We don’t want to stereotype him but he is a genuine linchpin; he’s got a real talent for passing the ball. But what we’ve really worked on with him is his ability to get over the ground quicker.
“His attitude, which I must say, in the space of two years, has improved a 100%. I am not afraid to say that he was losing his way a wee bit; I genuinely think he’s turned his life around. His attitude to training, his commitment in games and the fact that he has taken the captain’s armband following Steven Meechan’s promotion to the first team have been exemplary. He’s led by example and I think he’s been a credit to himself and his family.
“He must now kick-on. He must continue to show the improvement and his own personal development will be the key to whether he makes it to the top.”
Innes himself was magnanimous with the gong and praised his team-mates who have played alongside the East Kilbride-born youngster in a successful campaign.
“I am honoured to pick up the award, particularly as it will be the first, but it could’ve been any number of the boys in the Under 19’s squad.
“We’ve had a good season, finishing second to Celtic who have spent massive amounts on their team, and scoring a barrel load of goals.
“It shows that nine of the regular eleven players for the Under 19’s have been given contracts to stay beyond this summer and its credit to all the guys. Gordon Young has also been brilliant and the big challenge for me and all the other lads is how far can we progress at Motherwell?”