Tamworth stalwart Alf Small and Souths United coach Wes Clark were honoured at a gala Northern NSW Football Awards function at the Newcastle Exhibition Centre on Friday night.
Clark received the Newcastle Permanent Community Coach of the Year Award, while veteran Tamworth football identity Small was recognised for almost 50 years of service to the game, receiving the prestigious Bill Turner Award.
The awards ceremony marked the end of the Northern NSW Football season with awards handed out to recipients across the seven zones that make up Northern NSW Football, which stretches from Newcastle to the Queensland border and as far inland as Lightning Ridge.
Northern Inland Football Chairman Tim Coates and General Manager Gavin Flanagan were at the ceremony to see the two men receive their awards.
Coates said the honours were a great recognition of the role that volunteers play across the state.
“I can’t overstate how big these awards are in the sport of football in NSW,” Coates said.
“When you consider that Northern NSW Football has over 64,000 registered players.”
“It gives you an idea of how many volunteers Wes and Alf were up against for these individual honours.”
Coates went on to also say that Small’s award, in particular, is very prestigious.
“The name Bill Turner is synonymous with football in NSW and I can think of no one more deserving of this award than Alf Small,” Coates said.
“He has demonstrated an enormous commitment to Tamworth football over almost 50 years through his club Hillvue Rovers, of which he has been president since he founded the club in 1969.”
Coates said that Clark beat hundreds of other quality coaches across Northern NSW Football to be recognised for his award as well.
“Wes has had a huge year, being recognised by his club Souths United, Northern Inland Football, and now the icing on the cake receiving the Newcastle Permanent Coach of the Year Award.”
“It is a great recognition of his efforts of coaching and mentoring not one but two Souths United teams this year.”
“The kids he has coached have gained valuable sporting and life skills under his tutelage in 2016.”
The awards night was held at Wests City in Newcastle with over 460 people in attendance to enjoy a great night celebrating the world game from a regional perspective.
Mid North Coast club Wallambi FC won the club of the year award, while fellow far north coaster Jil Hepburn picked up the volunteer of the year.
Andrew Digby was judged the best whistleblower of the season.