TNS stars are honoured after stunning title success
The New Saints toasted a season to remember with the heroes that returned them to the summit of Welsh football.
The Oswestry-based Saints cantered to a stunning Cymru Premier crown – their first in three seasons after back-to-back titles for Connah’s Quay – by seeing off their nearest challengers by 21 points. TNS took 80 points from 96 available, only the second time the club has achieved that feat.
And the club were able to host an end-of-season awards do for the first-team squad, staff and supporters at Park Hall for the first time since 2019, due to the pandemic.
Celebrations were not over the top, as Anthony Limbrick’s side turned their attention from their final league fixture to Sunday’s JD Welsh Cup final against Penybont, which goes ahead at Cardiff City Stadium at 4pm.
There was, quite literally, nothing to chose between leading players’ player of the season candidates – as the award went to joint-winners, captain Chris Marriott and midfielder Jon Routledge.
Experienced left-back Marriott, 32, made 29 league appearances this season and has been an established part of the Saints’ first team for more than a decade.
Routledge, 26, completed his sixth season as a TNS regular and made 27 appearances in the Cymru Premier.
Both have been integral parts of Limbrick’s squad this season in the Australia head coach’s first full season in charge.
Supporters’ player of the season was awarded to centre-half Ryan Astles. Ex-Chester and Southport stopper Astles, 27, in his second season at the club, has been a rock in the heart of the TNS backline.
He has also proven a capable goal threat, with four league goals in his 28 appearances.
TNS youngster and academy graduate Ben Clark was rewarded for an excellent second season among the first team ranks.
The 21-year-old, who broke through under former boss Scott Ruscoe, has been a consistent regular again this term and has managed five goals from midfield from 26 outings, as well as a series of impressive displays.
Leading the way for goals was Scottish striker Declan McManus, who has been in red-hot form in his debut Saints campaign.
The Glaswegian, 27, plundered 24 goals in 28 league appearances to lead the division’s scoring charts by seven goals.
Goalkeeper Paul Harrison played his final match in Saints colours on a day tinged with emotion for all at the club.
Harrison, 37, spent 15 years at the club and made 466 league appearances alone, with cup outings taking him well beyond 500 games for the Saints. The popular goalkeeper was welcomed ahead of kick-off against Caernarfon Town with a guard of honour from both sets of players and staff. He will be replaced by back-up and cup goalkeeper Connor Roberts for Sunday’s final.
Liverpudlian Harrison was also honoured with a special achievement gong for his contribution to the football club over a decade-and-a-half.
The Saints’ academy youngsters were also celebrated, with young hopefuls across all age ranges receiving medals and trophies for their achievements this season.