York City Clubman Of The Year - The History

The CMOTY award was inaugurated in 1974 and named after Billy Fenton who had died the previous year. Fenton was the unsung hero of our 1954/5 FA Cup run

Clubman Of The Year - The History

The first award was hotly contested as City earned promotion to what was then Division 2 (now The Championship) for the first (and to date, only) time in our history.

In fact, most of the team were in contention and had loyal supporters. Keeper Graeme Crawford, defenders Barry Swallow, Chris Topping and Phil Burrows, experienced, ever dependable, midfielders Barry Lyons and Ian Butler, midfielders Ian Holmes and Brian Pollard whose powerful surging runs provided so much excitement and strikers Jimmy Seal and Chris Jones were among the main contenders.

Billy’s widow, Margo, presented the award. Phil Burrows was winner, an unassuming pocket sized left back, he had been a stalwart of the City side for 8 seasons. Strong in the tackle, he was defensively sound and proved highly effective in supporting the attack. It was to be many years, if ever, before any other left back came close to be being as good as Phil Burrows.

Phil Burrows set a worrying trend. Winners who immediately left the club. He dropped a division to join Plymouth in the close season. The club's management at the time being very intransigent in contract negotiations.

Local hero Chris Topping won the award a year later and was followed in 1977 by Brian Pollard, another home grown product. In subsequent years, only another 2 home grown players (Steve Tutill and Steve Bushell) have won the award. Who will be the next? Make that, will there be a next?

Mickey Cave won the award in 1976, he met an untimely end in America in 1984, but his name lives on at Bournemouth, the club with which he is most associated where their player of the season is awarded the 'Micky Cave Trophy'. Somewhere along the way, he has lost a letter “e” from his Christian name.

In 1979, Gordon Staniforth became our first player to win the award twice when he retained the trophy. By September, he’d left us for Carlisle for a club record fee.

The golden Denis Smith era saw John MacPhail win the award twice and Keith Walwyn won it in 1987, another player who never played for City again after receiving the trophy.

Looking back, golden boy John Byrne never received the award. Fellow young front men, Richard Cresswell and Jon Greening also failed to register their name on the trophy and they are joined by the likes of Gary Ford, Tony Canham and Dean Kiely.

Under Smith, John MacPhail won the award in 1984 when City won promotion and another defender, Paul Stancliffe won the award when we next gained promotion in 1993. In the seasons either side of Stancliffe’s success, flair players won the award, Jon McCarthy in 1992 (and again in 1995) and Paul Barnes in 1994.

The end of the millennium saw Barry Jones, a reliable defender win the award and then retain it in 2000.

As we temporarily lost our league status (for the first time) in 2004, Darren Dunning was crowned our Clubman and was followed a year later by Dave Merris as we entered in non league football.

As we regained Football League status in 2012, combative midfielder Scott Kerr won the award, although his season had been curtailed by injury at Luton in March. His defensive midfield skills being the fulcrum that sew together defence and attack during our glorious Wembley double winning season.

Back in The Football League and Daniel Parslow won the award in 2013. A fitting reward for a long serving player who was not always a first choice, but under a succession of managers, they all appreciated his value to the side.

Recent years has seen our side regularly featuring 3 winners of the award, Daniel Parslow, Michael Ingham and Dave McGurk. We’ve already seen how defenders have monopolised the award in our promotion seasons. In total, up to and including 2016, the award has been won by defenders on 19 occasions, midfielders 11 times, strikers in 8 seasons and keepers on just 5 occasions.

In October 2016, Jon McCarthy (Chester) became only the second ever winner to return to York as manager of the opposition, John MacPhail being the first.

In 2020, Sean Newton won the award for a third time, equalling the feat of Daniel Parslow.

On 21st May 2021, City announced ’The Fans’ as the Billy Fenton Memorial Clubman of the Year Award winners for 2020/1 in recognition of covid inspired fundraising including The Vice Presidents’ "budget booster" which raised £30,000+ at the start of the campaign, the 1,000+ season ticket holders who donated their "unused" 2019/20 games and a five figure sum from live streaming games. Read More.

On 2nd May 2022, Pete Jameson was announced as 2021/2 Clubman of the Year. He polled 61% of the vote, ahead Akil Wright (12%) and Paddy McLaughlin (5%). He is the 5th keeper to have won the award, joining the select group of the late Eddie Blackburn, Chris Marples, Alan Fettis and Michael Ingham.

On 22nd April 2023, Olly Dyson was announced as 2022/3 Clubman of the Year.

On 13nd April 2024, Ryan Fallowfield was announced as 2023/4 Clubman of the Year. In a disappointing season, he put in a string of steady performances across the season, but having received a double yellow a week earlier, the second for a reckless tackle, some argued he didn't meet all the criteria and that Lenell John-Lewis was a more appropriate candidate. In a nod to history, the award was presented by Phil Burrows, the first winner of the award 50 years ago.

In an era when the majority of player awards are won by attacking or flair players, that hasn’t usually been the case at City. Perhaps it has been the influence of the Main Stand mafia?

Sadly, Margo Fenton passed away on November 3rd 2021, 10 days short of her 95th birthday.

YCS Player Of The Year Home Page

Billy Fenton Award - The Winners