Shrewsbury Town star Josh Vela to push on for even better when fans return

Award-winner Josh Vela is desperate to show Shrewsbury fans what he can really do next season after landing two prizes, including the supporters’ award, last night.

The 27-year-old was the big winner as Shrewsbury’s end-of-season awards were held virtually last night.

He claimed the players’ and supporters’ player of the season awards after a consistent campaign in midfield. Vela, who was brought to the club by Sam Ricketts but excelled under Steve Cotterill, is now focused on performing with fans back inside Montgomery Waters Meadow.

“That’s really nice, I’m pleased they’ve seen what I can do,” said Vela of the fans award.

“Hopefully I can push on now when they are back in the stadium and do it again next year.

“It’s not the same without fans, it’s been a tough year for everyone.

“When the fans are in they just make it better, they make us feel better. Hopefully with them we can have a really good season and push up the table.

“It’s the atmosphere, if you’re getting beat they’ll push you on or get on your back so you’ve got to perform.

“If you’re winning, or when you score a goal, you can cheer with the fans and it’s miles better, isn’t it?

“In an empty stadium when you score, it’s just like training.”

Vela, who played in 44 of 46 league games, also received the top accolade from his Meadow team-mates.

He added: “I’m delighted to win players’ player, it obviously shows that my team-mates thought I’ve played well this year, so I’m pleased with that.

“People have said I’ve been consistent, it’s just a run of games really and playing well breads confidence.”

Left wing-back Nathanael Ogbeta claimed the young player of the season award, as voted by the fans.

Ogbeta has been a revelation since checking in on a permanent deal from Manchester City as a teenager in January.

The exciting England under-20 international didn’t miss a minute of action until being substituted late in two of the final fixtures.

Ogbeta, who has admirers in the divisions above, said: “I’m so happy, it’s been a real good season to me, coming into men’s football was a bit of a shock to the system. But the way the fans received me has been amazing, I’ve felt so comfortable.

“I’m so grateful to God, and the manager and players for accepting me and giving me the opportunity to play so many games. I’m really happy to have the start I did. It’s got tougher as it’s gone on and I’m starting to see how tough men’s football is.

“But I’m so happy to have started here and I’m really enjoying every moment.”

Fans’ favourite Shaun Whalley celebrated the one-year extension to his deal, triggered by a number of league starts, by being presented with the top goalscorer prize.

Whalley, 33, fired nine goals under Ricketts and Cotterill, his best League One return and the first time he has claimed the top scorer gong in his six years at Town. Released out-of-contract midfielder Brad Walker claimed the goal-of-the-season prize for his scorcher against Cambridge United in the FA Cup in November.

Walker, who netted a couple of beauties in his time in blue and amber, thumped into the top corner from 30 yards to seal a 2-0 win.

Shrewsbury PA announcer Ryan Jervis won the Chris Smith special recognition award, for 43 years’ service. Safety officer Lawrence Ellerby claimed the Supporters’ Parliament award for his efforts this season.

And the Community Champion prize was split between two members of Shrewsbury Town In The Community. Steve Burnside and Kate Lindley were highlighted by community chief Jamie Edwards for their work through the pandemic.

Striker Daniel Udoh, who was this week offered a new deal at Town, won a PFA community champion award.

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