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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Barrow Raiders skipper Harrison lands awards haul

CAPTAIN Liam Harrison was the star of the show once more as Barrow Raiders brought the curtain down on their season at the end-of-year awards night.

The second-row forward, who was named the RL World Championship One Player-of-the-Year last week, stepped unwittingly into the spotlight one final time at the Nines to pick up a haul of silver.

Harrison was named Player-of-the-Year, Evening Mail Player-of-the-Year, Supporters’ Player-of-the-Year and Players’ Player-of-the-Year, as well as collecting the Yorkie Coyle Memorial Shield.

Supporters cried ‘sign on, sign on’ as Harrison, still undecided on his future for next season and looking slightly abashed, was forced to take up the microphone and address the crowd.

“We have been friends for a long time and we will stay that way for a long time to come,” he told more than 100 club supporters of the 2012 Raiders team. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this year.

“It’s been a good year – we’ve got a great board looking after the club, we've got a good coach and we’ve got great fans. Thank you very much.”

Earlier in the night, Barrow boss Darren Holt had made a heartfelt plea for Harrison to ‘do the right thing’ and sign on for an eighth season with his hometown club.

Speaking before presenting the player-of-the-year award to his captain, who scored 13 tries in 26 appearances this season and was ever-reliable in his new role in the pack, the Raiders coach said: “I think you are a lovely lad, you’re Barrow through and through and always give 110 per cent for the club.

“You just hope that Liam will see the error of his ways and sign on for the club because I know everyone in this room appreciates what he has done for this club.

“This guy deserves credit for his performances and his attitude in leading from the front for this team, this year.

“The player-of-the-year – without a doubt – is Liam Harrison.”

Harrison’s haul of five trophies was more than the rest of the Barrow squad combined picked up.

Liam Campbell collected the top try-scorer prize after crossing the whitewash 21 times this year, while James Gordon was named Most Improved Player after his return to the professional ranks from the amateur game.

Millomite Andrew Dawson, in his first season for Barrow after deciding to make the step up from National Conference outfit Millom, was named Young Player-of-the-Year.

At the start of the season, the big prop forward had set out his aim to play five times for the first team, but ended up making 24 appearances, proving his worth as an impact forward off the bench.

All those players helped the club achieve promotion to the Championship and Holt hailed the collective effort of players, directors and fans in bringing the side back from the dead following their RFL-enforced relegation last year.

“We knew what we were getting into and I strongly believed that the club had gone away from its roots and I believed that the local talent deserved credit and a chance to prove themselves,” Holt said of his and Phil Atkinson’s decision to take over as the club’s coaches at the end of 2011.

“I don’t think anybody at the start of the season could have predicted the success of the local boys coming through.

“I think the lads this season have performed above their weight, hence why I finished this season with a sense of disappointment that we didn’t win the Grand Final.

“But the goal at the start of the season, and it was a forlorn hope at the time, was promotion and we got that early in the season. The club now can only look forward.”

The future of the club was given a boost during the night with two major donations made to the floodlight fund.

The walkers, who earlier in the season made the trek to Whitehaven on foot, gave £900, with secretary Karen Heighton and chief steward Karen Scarr donating £1,000 raised from away supporters on trips during the season.

The club need to raise £100,000 by the end of 2013 to replace the current lights in order to avoid the RFL throwing them out of the Championship.

Director Keith Nutter, the man leading the drive to reach the target, said: “That’s a marvellous gesture. We have got to keep the floodlights high on the priorities of the club.

“Without the floodlights by the end of 2103, we won’t have a club.”

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