National League champions Barrow have signed off with three more trophies after scooping the season’s manager, player and golden boot accolades from sponsors Vanarama.
Championship-winning ex-Bluebirds boss Ian Evatt was named as the season’s managerial maestro when the final honours of the campaign were handed out on Monday ahead of Sunday’s play-off final at Wembley to decide whether Notts County or Harrogate Town go up with them.
Few will argue with the National League Player of the Year accolade going to John Rooney after the free-scoring midfielder drove the Cumbrians to the title and a return to the Football League after nearly 50 years.
If they can hang on to former Blackpool forward Scott Quigley, defenders in League Two will have a new foe to fear after he still managed to score 20 times to collect the golden boot.
Now it’s time to meet your @TheVanaramaNL award winners ?
It was a brilliant year for the Bluebirds of @BarrowAFC – and now they’ve got their hands on even more trophies! ?
— The National League (@TheVanaramaNL) July 27, 2020
They were the unexpected winners in the most unpredictable of seasons. Not quite the 5,000/1 Foxes, but there was something strikingly familiar about what went on in that little part of Cumbria over these past 12 months.
With 2020 throwing up twists and turns by the gallon load, their shock triumph against the backdrop of the global pandemic can’t be forgotten.
Vanarama National League Manager of the Year – Ian Evatt, Barrow
Think Barrow, think the big man up front. Then you think a most challenging away day on a difficult pitch – and you also think about that long trip home.
Ian Evatt never had much regard for reputation. He ripped up the rule book and totally transformed the way in which his club played the game, it was a reckless abandonment of what they were so well known for.
We can now provide an update for 2019/20 Season Ticket holders regarding the games cancelled due to the curtailment of the National League season ?
— Barrow A.F.C. (@BarrowAFC) July 27, 2020
When one fan joked they were now Barrowcelona, they played along. But the manager was inspired by other comments too. He revealed he was told he could never win the National League playing easy-on-the-eye football.
How wrong they were. Evatt may have moved on to try and re-establish order at Bolton Wanderers, but he goes safe in the knowledge that he has left a lasting legacy.
Vanarama National League Player of the Year – John Rooney, Barrow
Don’t be fooled by the videos you see flying around Twitter. Yes, John Rooney loves a great goal. His stunning free-kicks lit up their title chase, few bend it better at this level.
What about his wonder strike against Barnet? Brother Wayne would have blushed. But no, those showstopping moments were just a small part of what he did as his club returned to the Football League for the first time in 48 years.
Rooney was the captain the club badly needed, a football-playing midfielder who led the team with energy and purpose. Of course, his 17 goals from the middle of the part certainly helped.
Rooney will be looking to make it back-to-back National League promotions after agreeing to spearhead Stockport County’s charge next term.
Vanarama National League Top Goalscorer – Scott Quigley, Barrow
Sometimes it really is the early bird who catches the worm. Days after the conclusion of last season, Ian Evatt got down to work. He had Scott Quigley signed from his former club Blackpool by the middle of May.
At the time it went under the radar. Little did we know then it would be the biggest close-season recruit any National League club would make that summer.
Quigley scored 20 times in the shorter-than-expected campaign, two in front of Torquay’s Jamie Reid and Boreham Wood striker Kabongo Tshimanga.
“From the moment we came back in the summer the manager made one thing very clear,” he told us during the season. “He said there’s no room for arrogance. There are no egos, just good mates. I have been in some dressing rooms where that is far from the case but here we are all friends.”
His pals have put the goals on a plate for him, and he will be a marked man in League Two for sure.
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Images courtesy of The Non-League Paper & @BarrowAFC/Twitter