Bodden Town playmaker Theron Wood picked up the Player of the Year Award and then dedicated his success to late teammate Gerome “Bird” Graham.
Wood, 23, scored eight times and was a key creative influence in the double-winning season. He said he was surprised and delighted to take the top individual honour during Saturday’s Cayman Islands Football Association awards ceremony at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort.
And he dedicated the accolade to his former midfield partner, Bird, who collapsed and died of a previously undetected heart condition during a training session last year.
Wood, who scored the winning goal in the FA Cup final, was also chosen as the MVP for that competition.
He said: “We put all our efforts into winning the league this season for Bird. We were so sad that we saw him pass and we made sure we did it for him.”
Wood, who was away in England when his friend died on 12 June last year, added: “I was sad for a long time after it happened. I still can’t believe he has gone.
“He was the one who was there with me in the midfield. We had a good friendship and a great understanding on the pitch.”
Wood said it was a great feeling to be recognised for his influence this season. But he admits he wasn’t expecting the award.
“I was actually on my phone when I heard my name get called. I thought they were joking, but I looked again and I saw my name up there on the board. I was delighted, but I was not expecting it.
“It was a great feeling and reward for all the work I have put in on the training field.”
He said the main target for the season had been the Premier League title. And he insisted that it had taken a team effort to get there.
“I wouldn’t say anyone was the star player. It was an all-round team performance. The whole team played great.”
The CIFA short-list for player of the year must have included other BT players like Dwayne “Gaza” Wright – league’s top scorer for the third consecutive year – and midfielder Kareem James, Bird’s brother, who played with extra passion throughout the season, plus defender Yefry Calderon who scored goals at vital times.
Wood, who has previously played in England for semi-pro Ashford Town and had trials at Evesham Town, said he is happy to be back in Grand Cayman and has no immediate plans to go back to England.
He is looking forward to representing Bodden Town in the Caribbean Club Championships. As league winners BT go forward to play in the regional tournament, with a place in the CONCACAF Champions League potentially up for grabs.
“It will be my first time playing in the competition and it will be interesting to see how well we perform,” added Woody.
Bodden Town coach Elbert McLean said his team was filled with key players and he praised Wood’s efforts in training, saying he had his most consistent season for the club.
“He is an outstanding player. His effort in training was excellent this year and that made a big difference on the field,” McLean said.
“When he was not scoring he was creating. Every match he played he had some impact in it.”
McLean highlighted Wood as one of several first-team players who had come through the club’s youth system to star for the senior side.
The Player of the-Year Award is based on votes from coaches with the CIFA Executive Committee making the final decision.
“He is an outstanding player. His effort in training was excellent this year and that made a big difference on the field.” ELBERT MCLEAN