With the 2016-17 season coming to an end, it’s award season in football and GTBFO is no different; well we are a little bit different, our awards are exclusively for the young Gers in the Academy under Craig Mulholland and his staff. Thankfully, we’ll not make the same mistake as our more famous awards namesakes and get the winner of the main prize wrong (although in our case the prize is completely imaginary as there’s no wee gold statuette for the players maws’ mantelpiece since we’ve no money to get them made) before embarrassingly correcting ourselves.
Before we announce the winners, we’ll quickly explain the four categories. Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year (more on that shortly), Goal of the season and Most Improved. Three of the four are self-explanatory but the Young Player of the Year is a little more complicated. As we’ve only been attending U20s games the awards will be aimed at that age group BUT any player who was also eligible for a younger age group this season will be considered for the Young Player of the Year award.
Now, without much further ado, it’s time to name the winners of the GTBFO Academy Awards:
Goal of The Season - Jamie Barjonas vs Falkirk
Central midfielder Jamie Barjonas scored a handful of phenomenal strikes this season but it’s his first goal in the 5-1 demolition of Falkirk that takes the prize. After only half clearing a corner, the ball falls to Barjonas, who takes a touch to set himself, before unleashing an unstoppable strike into the far corner of the net from almost 30 yards.
Myles Beerman vs Hibs - The Maltese left-back picked up the ball in his own half before driving 40 yards and looping an injury-time shot into top corner of the net to give his side a 2-1 win.
Jack Thomson vs Falkirk - Another strike from distance in the Youth Cup as Tomson gets the ball on the left before firing a rocket beyond the Falkirk keeper.
Young Player of the Year - Zak Rudden
A number of others have put in a series of consistent performances throughout the season but centre-forward Rudden just pipped his team-mates. 11 goals for the U20s while also featuring for the U17s regularly is no easy task, particularly when often playing against senior pros in the Development League, but the 17-year-old has constantly been a threat in the final third of the pitch and popped up with valuable goals when needed. A regular for Scotland’s U17s (who he’ll be representing in next month’s European Championship), Rudden looks to have a very bright future at Ibrox and is regularly training with Pedro Caixinha’s first-team squad.
Billy Gilmour - We’ve all read the hype. Gilmour only came into the U20s at the tail end of 2016 but immediately showed his class with a string of impressive performances in midfield.
Jordan Houston - Full-back Houston has made the right-back berth his own in the U20s, even earning a place on the bench for the first-team away to Dundee. Captain of the U17 side who lost out on the Glasgow Cup to Celtic, Houston has been a revelation for Graeme Murty’s U20s.
Most Improved Player - Aidan Wilson
When we started covering the U20s back in July, Wilson wasn’t a name we were particularly familiar with. Limited appearances early in the season never done much to change that but by October the central defender had firmly established himself as a first pick for Graeme Murty’s side. One member of the Auchenhowie coaching staff described his as a player who "just works hard and gets on with it" and after watching him continue to grow over the season it’s hard not to think he’s been sold a little short with that description. When Pedro Caixinha took over Wilson found himself a regular on the bench for the first-team and could have a part to play next season with several senior defenders set to leave the club.
Jordan Gibson - The Englishman has been a ‘super sub’ of sorts this season with more appearances from the bench than any other U20s player. His versatility has seen him play in virtually every position in midfield and attack and even chip in with a few goals.
Max Ashmore - Central midfielder Ashmore has forced his way into being a key member of Murty’s squad; making the number 4 jersey his own in recent weeks. A brief stint at left-back never really worked out but Ashmore returned to midfield and even captained the U20s against Celtic a few weeks ago. Definitely one to watch over the next few years.
Player of the Year - Liam Burt
This was the most difficult category to decide on a winner but after much deliberation, Liam Burt is the first ever GTBFO Academy Awards Player of the Year. 10 goals in 22 starts for the U20s is a great return from a player who has spent much of the season playing wide as part of the front three (and a handful of appearances in central midfield). Burt is constantly pushing forward and is often Rangers main creative outlet as they try break opponents down. Tricky, quick and deceptively hard to get off the ball, Burt has had a brief cameo with the first-team as he looks to make the grade at Ibrox.
Myles Beerman - The ex-Man City kid came in and immediately won over any doubters with stand-out performances for Graeme Murty’s side. Missing the start and end of the season made it difficult to give him the prize but he’s instantly given his team-mates a higher level of performances to aspire to.
Zak Rudden - See above
Ross McCrorie - The U20s captain has recently been out on loan at Championship side Dumbarton, causing him to miss a number of Development League games, but has excelled in defence for the Light Blues. A spell at right-back to accommodate David Bates and Aidan Wilson before returning to central defence have given the youngster an extra presence and awareness of what’s going on around him.