A-League awards night recognises exciting debuts

Perth Glory striker, Bobby Despotovski won the prestigious Johnny Warren Medal for the Hyundai A-League Players Player of the Year at the A-League Awards Night held in Sydney this evening. He was also one of four recipients of the Reebok Golden Boot Award having netted 8 goals along with Alex Brosque (Queensland Roar), Stewart Petrie (Central Coast Mariners) and Archie Thompson (Melbourne Victory). Perth Glory attacking midfielder Nick Ward collected the Hyundai Rising Star Award for the most outstanding Under 20 player in the A-League and his Western Australian club also collected the Fair Play Award for accruing the least number of yellow and red cards in the competition.

Central Coast Mariners coach, Lawrie McKinna, received the Hyundai A-League Coach of the Year Award as voted for by his peers. His team of young players won the A-League's pre-season competition was runners up in the Oceania Champions Cup and also runners-up in the A-League championship grand final. After the narrow final loss to Sydney FC, whose skipper, Dwight Yorke, was wrongly rumoured to earn more than the entire Mariner squad combined, McKinna (pictured here to the right of an early-season fan) told the Asian Football Business Review "it was a great season from the boys and we have put the Central Coast on the map."

Born in southwest Scotland in 1961, McKinna, a striker, debuted for Scottish Premier League side Kilmarnock as a 21-year-old. His coaching career began as an assistant with Australian National Soccer League clubs Sydney Olympic, Sydney United and Parramatta Power, which came either side of a lead role with NSW State League team Hills United. McKinna’s first season as an NSL coach was astonishingly successful. He beat a host of established coaches to claim the NSL’s coach of the year prize, after leading the Northern Spirit to their first finals campaign in three seasons.