Following the success of the 2016/17 campaign when they finished in a highly creditable third position in the previously-named Evo-Stik NPL First Division South, hopes of a repeat performance in 2017/18 were obviously high on the agenda.
However, the loss of several key players to higher-league clubs, coupled with an unforeseen change in financial circumstances mid-way through the season, put a damper on any lofty promotion ambitions before the year was out.
Despite this, both club Chairman Andy Gay and first-team manager Chris Rawlinson were as one in declaring that to finish in 13th position after 42 matches played still represented a successful season with much positivity, in particular the introduction of a number of the successful SUFC U21 side (who finished second in their debut season in the Lincs FA U21 Development League South section), featuring in first team contention on a regular basis.
Two of those U21 players who experienced Step 4 NPL football for the first time, featured in Saturday’s prize-giving ceremony: Scott Floyd and Marcel Chipamaunga, both pulled on the royal blue shirts nine times and were named as manager Lewis Thorogood’s Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year respectively.
A new mark was made in the first-team awards with Neal Spafford and Ben Davison (both pictured, with Ben on the left of the boss) sharing the honours as manager Chris Rawlinson’s chosen players and 'Men of the Year' and Players’ Player of the Year.
The club Vice-Captain 'Spaff' also collected the award for gaining the highest number of Man-of-the-Match nominations during the season, although voting was tight with just a single point separating him from Cenk Acar and Davison.
Goalkeeper Michael Duggan was the fans' choice for Supporters Player of the Year, while skipper Gary King claimed the Golden Boot Award after notching a total 15 goals in all competitions.
Club captain King was to the fore at the beginning of the evening, presenting bouquets of flowers to club secretary Louise Maplethorpe, Social Club manager Louise Norman and Jenny Tucker who tends the first-team home & away playing kit week in and week out.
Club Chairman Andrew Gay selected two people to share the honours for his Clubmen of the Year Award, Chris Maplethorpe for his tireless work in numerous directions in keeping the club’s building works shipshape (not to mention his invaluable behind-the-scenes work with the first-team and U21s), and Lewis Thorogood for managing the fledgling U21 team so successfully (alongside Graham Almond) and his superb effort in organising and running the club’s highly successful debut junior Elite Youth Tournament, the Tulip Trophy, which debuted over the bank holiday weekend to great fanfare.
All in all, another memorable year in Tulipsville and, as the curtain is drawn on 2017/18 - and with a summer of World Cup football from Russia to look forward to! - dreams of what might well come to pass in 2018/19 (when the Tulips adventure into the newly-formed NPL Evo-Stik East division) are already beginning to take seed!...
Updated 18:52 - 16 May 2018 by Non-League Webmeister