With a long - if fruitful - Season Seventy finally at an end, the Grilled clubs once more convened for a dinner and roundup. The Birds would have something to show off, of course, having completed their national cup collection with the Singapore Sapphire Challenger Cup; a close runners-up finish in II.2 only added to the sense of optimism, with Hovaness Noubaryan
setting his sights on the S-League. "We're really not far off."
Chan Ze Han
, cup final hero, would be acclaimed as the Birds' Player of the Season, with league joint top scorer Kalki Parvathaneni
being his only conceivable competition. Kalki himself thought it the correct choice. "Chan has been our greatest strength for so many important games. It's only right that he be recognized."
The Young Player of the Season honour also went to a forward - Chicken Wings Number Ten, Al Morris. Morris' speed and dependability had been much appreciated by the youth coaches, who however had a tough choice, with several newcomers recently distinguishing themselves. "Png Kang Chun is probably our top talent with Morris set to graduate." Mok Feng De said. "And don't discount Dante Bao or Chad Zou either. With Zou, it's hard to guess how it'll go, but he has some of the best raw tools I've seen for a long time."
The Farmer Bunnies elected Kwek Yun Jie
as their Player of the Season for a record third time, encouraged by his stellar national team performances, in which he displayed a sudden penchant for scoring. Fellow Lions Tham Leng Teck
and Lau Chang Wan
were also natural choices, with Morgan Hu
shining a bit too late to influence the voters.
Kwek accepted the award with his characteristic humility. "There are many other teammates who have done as much as I have, if not more. Hopefully, we will achieve something big together very soon."
Consensus Bunnies Youth Player of the Season was Umakant Chakraborty, who has seemingly settled on becoming an out-and-out striker with Robinson FC, after his outsized S$5.6 million transfer. Chew Shun Ho and Alvin Fu have in contrast probably not lived up to their early promise completely, but remain entirely serviceable prospects nevertheless.
International's choice would be Didi Reidenbach
, although Wang Hanxuan
was likely entirely deserving of a repeat. For sheer impact, however, it is hard to look past the Swiss newcomer's goals in critical situations, and his set-piece ability was much welcomed by all. Sazwan bin Hj Muhd Salleh
was a bit of a dark horse with excellent general stats, which he achieved without quite standing out in action.
Sixteen year-old Li Xin Chi was named as their Young Player of the Season, but Zulfadly bin Hj Ratano was quick to note that it was conferred more for potential than achievement. "Li has all the makings of a modern attacking playmaker, but it's mostly talk at this point. We have no shortage of good youth nowadays - Hassan bin Hj Muhd Nurhikman, Mo Mingren, Tan Woon Jian... I'm sure I have left a lot of guys out."
There was a special lifetime award for Sikong Darong
, who indeed looked a bit worn after twelve seasons managing the Buns. He was then immediately inducted into the Hall of Fame by successor Dalibor Kostadinović
, who assured all that he would carry on Sikong's legacy. "When we make it to the S-League, remember, it's mostly down to one man."