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Bennett - Player of the Year
By: Rob Sedgwick
RYAN Bennett is the overwhelming winner of the 2008-2009 Fishy Player of the Year. He won the vote convincingly, with over 50% of the Fishy's readers voting for the 19-year-old.
Bennett started the season as a squad player and ended up as captain, while still only 18! During the summer then manager Alan Buckley brought in Hope and Heywood as his first choice defensive pairing (a fact he never acknowledged, but he left Bennett out for the first game of the season, this answering the question).
The London-born centre back did not feature in the first two games of the season, but an injury to another new signing Robbie Stockdale gave Bennett the chance to get back in the side, initially at right back. Hope soon got injured, so by the fourth game of the season Bennett was starting in his first choice central defensive position, one which he would retain throughout the whole season.
When Alan Buckley was sacked and Mike Newell appointed in his place, Newell decided Town needed a new central defender, and brought in Rob Atkinson. But instead of dropping young Ryan Bennett, Newell instead axed club captain Matt Heywood from the side, partnering Bennett with Atkinson, who was himself just 21 at the time. With Heywood no longer able to captain the side, Newell made the controversial decision to give Bennett the skipper's arm band, a role which the former Ipswich trainee soon grew into.
Bennett and Atkinson went on to form a more solid partnership than any of the earlier combinations employed this season, and ultimately was a central plank of Grimsby's improved second half of the season.
Although Bennett was more or less the only regular player throughout the season following the departure of Phil Barnes, the centre back is a deserving winner of the trophy, which is a natural follow on from last year's young player of the year.
The Fishy is unable to present a trophy this year, but pass on our congratulations to young Ryan, who hopefully will himself lift trophies with Grimsby's name on in years to come.
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