Neil Critchley says the significance of his prestigious manager of the season award pales into consideration compared to Blackpool’s community gong.
Blackpool’s head coach saw off competition from Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola to claim the trophy at Monday night’s North West Football Awards.
It comes after the 43-year-old guided the Seasiders to promotion from League One in his first full season in charge at Bloomfield Road.
Pool legend and Bolton Wanderers chief Ian Evatt, Wigan Athletic’s Leam Richardson and Derek Adams, formerly of Morecambe but now of Bradford City, were also shortlisted.
Blackpool’s Community Trust made it an award’s double for the club, claiming victory in the ‘community club of the season’ category.
The award recognised the fantastic work the Trust is doing within the community, delivering more than 20 different projects to people across Blackpool.
In the past season the Trust, working under the umbrella of Altogether Now – a legacy for Blackpool, has worked with more than 17,500 different people across the town on projects focused around education, health and inclusion.
Simon Sadler, Neil Critchley and Brett Gerrity at Monday night’s awards. Picture courtesy of Blackpool FC
The Trust delivered more than 8,000 sessions throughout the year with these sessions being visited more than 181,000 times.
The community trusts from Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Preston North End, Tranmere Rovers and Wigan Athletic were also shortlisted.
While Critchley was humbled to claim the individual award, he believes the recognition for the club’s Community Trust says more about the club and how much progress it’s made on and off the field under Simon Sadler.
“I think that’s a bigger award if I’m honest, I think it’s more important,” Critchley told The Gazette.
“The individual awards, they’re nice but there could be 50 people standing up there with me. It’s not about me, it’s about the club.
“The work Ash (Hackett) does with the Community Trust is unbelievable, I’ve never seen a team like that at a club before.
“That was really, really deserved because the club is about everyone in the area, it’s not just about what happens on the pitch.
“We want to win, we do everything to win, but you can’t always win.
“It’s more important the club plays a big part in what happens in the community off the pitch, because the club is there for the people of this town and the work they do is incredible, so big congratulations to the team.”
It comes as the club, in collaboration with the Community Trust and Blackpool Supporters’ Trust, have announced a new initiative to give free Blackpool shirts to every Year 2 child at a Blackpool primary school.
The Trust’s chief executive Ash Hackett said: “For the fans and club to come together to make sure every child in Year 2 receives a shirt is a great gesture and we are really excited to use our contacts with every school across Blackpool to organise and deliver all the shirts to all the smiling faces.
“Collectively, we have a responsibility to build the next generation of fans and see more and more children in the town proudly wearing the shirt and supporting their hometown.
“This is the first of many plans we have to engage with the community, fans and local residents and is another key example that shows how far the club, Community Trust and supporters group have travelled since Simon’s involvement.”