Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Ex-Reading defender presents club awards

A FORMER Premier League footballer visited Henley to give prizes to the town’s best young players.

A FORMER Premier League footballer visited Henley to give prizes to the town’s best young players.

Ex-Reading defender Ian Harte was guest of honour at AFC Henley’s annual awards ceremony, which was held at the town hall.

The 35-year-old gave trophies to more than 30 members of the club’s 16 youth squads and stayed afterwards to talk with them, sign their kit and pose for photographs.

The ceremony took place in front of more than 100 players ranging from the U9s to U18s and their parents.

Sam Hunter, who plays for the U16 Harriers team, won the prize for top scorer with 35 goals.

Oscar Wiseman, Tom Maskell and Hugh Barklem, who are all in the U18s, were jointly awarded the prize for longest-serving player as they joined the club as U9s.

The U11 Hurricanes won team of the year and membership administrator Matt Jones was named the club’s man of the year.

There were 16 prizes for each team’s most improved player, which went to Ben Smith, Aidan Kaufman, Luke Taylor, Dino Cheeseman, Alex Tams, Ed Lawrence, Sam Butler, Connor Reed, Henry Harmer, Ben Fenwick, Fraser Bossons, Louis Shankland, Keir James, Sam Harrison, Daniel Walker and Ben Print.

A further 16 for the most dedicated players went to Will Butler, Izak Dickason, Justus Larter, Adam Palmer, Ben Young, Ben Stodolnic, James Penrose, Owen Challis, Jack Earl, Dominic Meeks, Dylan Rees, Joseph Clarke, Jack Dowling, Tom Taylor, Luke Herrington and Hugh Barklem.

There was a surprise in store afterwards when Thomas Hinke, of Lowfield Road in Caversham, reunited Harte with a pair of his old boots and asked him to sign them. Harte had given them to the 10-year-old Reading fan when he was in the front row at Birmingham last year.

Thomas’ grandfather Dieter, who is AFC Henley’s chairman and a member of Henley town council, said: “It was such a coincidence it’s almost like something out of a story.

“Thomas loved those boots anyway but he’s even more excited now that they’ve been signed. He’s going to have them put in a display case.

“The ceremony itself was excellent and everyone enjoyed it. We had more people than we were expecting so a lot of them had to stand at the back.

“We have more than 300 children and will be expanding to 20 teams so we will probably need a bigger venue next year.”

Harte, who joined Reading from Carlisle United in 2010 was one of six first team players released from the club following its relegation last month and is yet to announce his next move.

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