Ricky Miller has been voted as the Vanarama National League Player of the Year for 2016/17, and I couldn’t think of a better recipient of an award the acknowledges single outstanding contribution.
He’s scored 36 league goals this season, bagged a further two in the FA Cup and has been the one striker you can almost always back to score a goal when his team needed one. I’ve seen some consternation from Imps fans that perhaps one of our players should have won the award. We’ve won the bloody league, we have to let other people be acknowledged as well. BT Sports might not realise it, but there are teams in the National League other than Lincoln City.
Firstly, who do we believe should have won it for us? Which one player has been the singular driving force behind our triumphant season? I could ask eleven of you that question and get eleven different answers. If we can’t identify one person who deserves our Player of the Year, how on earth are people away from Sincil Bank supposed to do it? I’ve seen a post suggesting Waterfall or Raggett. Good shout, which one? It’s like trying to choose which of your twin sons you love the most.
In terms of one player driving a whole team forward then nobody has quite done as much as Mr Miller at Dover. He’s following us into the Football League, make no mistake about that at all. I’ve heard Peterborough are very keen on his services, and despite people who don’t know him speaking of a poor attitude, I wouldn’t be disappointed to see such a prolific and confident centre forward in red and white.
If pushed I’d say maybe Alex Woodyard could have been in the running, and I know which of the two I’d rather have in my side. That said, Woodyard is a really important cog in a well oiled machine, whereas Ricky Miller is the acro-prop holding up the entire ceiling of Dover’s season. I’d rather have Alex all day long, but given the choice obviously I’d have Miller in our squad.
Here’s a stat for anyone doubting his credentials as the best player in our league this season. His goals have singlehandedly won the rabble from Crabble an amazing 20 points. Sometimes his goals were the difference between a draw and a win, in other matches he was the difference between a win and a defeat. His goals have been the difference between a season fighting in the play-off race, and a season valiantly battling against relegation. Without Ricky Miller, Dover would currently be on 55 points, and I suspect the team that goes down this season will be around the 50 point mark. Two wins from the play-offs with him, two wins away from the drop without him. Could you say the same for anyone one of our players? It would hurt us to lose Woody (one or the other), Rheady or either of the centre backs, but are they the difference between top of the table and bottom six for us? No.
Ricky Miller has scored four hat tricks this season, and not just against the relegation fodder either. I sat in the fan training session and watched as he tore apart Forest Green earlier in the year, and recently he slammed three past Eastleigh whom we found to be resolute and compact. He’s a natural goal scorer, a man who might not win many friends with his persona, but wins an awful lot of admirers with his ability. He is a bloody good centre forward, and if truth be told the one thing we need to assure our ascendancy continues is a bloody good centre forward. That isn’t a slur on Rheady or Lee Angol or anyone that has played up top for us this season, I’d imagine by their own admission Ricky Miller is different class.
Lincoln City are a team of winners, and every week it has been a different red and white hero giving us cause to celebrate. Nathan Arnold at Gateshead, Jack Muldoon at Solihull, Sean Raggett at Eastleigh, Terry Hawkridge against Macclesfield, Billy Knott against Bromley… the list just goes on and on. If there were an outstanding team award I dare say we’d clean up. However, this award is for singular excellence and as we’ve achieved everything through relentless team work and togetherness, Dover have probably only been as high as they have due to Ricky Miller’s goals. That is exactly why no Imps fan should be bothered one of our players hasn’t won it. I suspect all of our players are far happier with that winners medal around their neck, thank you very much.
Lots of teams and players have been very gracious in wishing us the best and congratulating us on our success, and I for one have no problem in congratulating Ricky Miller on his. Well deserved, enjoy your time at Peterborough next season.