The award that recognises the player who performed at the very highest level in each division. These players all had fantastic seasons and were all very worthy of recognition, but there can only be one winner. Well, four winners…
Third place: Sam Vile, Deep Space
Sam’s ability to not only keep the disc moving but to take decisive shots downfield and gain yards in chunks was a huge reason that Deep Space were able to reach the Nationals final. He’s surrounded by great talent on the O line – Leila Denniston, Conor Hogan, Nina Finley and Gus Morse to name only four – but he’s the conductor of the show, keeping everyone else on the same page and dictating the tempo.
Second place: Eddy Codd, SMOG
Eddy stood out this year precisely because he didn’t always stand out. He was always in the right spot, always able to offer a good option and almost never the reason a point turned south for the SMOG O line. He was reliable in the deep space, he was reliable with the frisbee and he was reliable when the disc turned and he needed to play D. None of this is to diminish his ability, he’s a fantastic cutter and very difficult to stop when the disc is in the air, but he’s the kind of player that every great team needs; a player who excels in his role and fills in every gap that the team needs them to.
WINNER: Nick Williams, SMOG
The addition of Nick from Chevron was a huge boost SMOG, adding a Great Britain player with longstanding ties to the team going all the way back to his university days in Durham. His speed, defensive ability and cutting threat added a dynamic dimension to the D line that was crucial to their title win. His block deep on Gus Morse in the final was an example – Gus is one of the best deep cutters in the division and, despite giving up several inches in that matchup, Nick went up early and came down with the disc. He can match up against any cutter in Europe and feel good about his chances, something that is going to be important for SMOG as they head back to Cincinnati next year.
Third place: Helen Thompson, SMOG
SMOG’s new captain was another excellent addition in 2021. She kept the disc moving around the field and used her throwing ability to drive the offence forward. Her ability to break marks and beat her defenders into power positions added another player capable of running a point at any given time, giving the already strong handler group for SMOG a shot of adrenaline. She’s also a very solid defender on the turn, and an all-around player that makes a difference for whatever team she’s playing on.
Second place: Leila Denniston, Deep Space
One of the toughest marks in the mixed division, Leila had another excellent year for Deep Space. She’s tall and quick, a lethal combination for deep defenders trying to stop her attacking the endzone. She’s also a good thrower and an excellent defender, giving her the ability to attack the opposition in whatever way is needed. Her ability to take the top off defences was a driving force for Deep Space, and she’ll be one of the leaders driving the team as they build towards Cincinnati next season.
WINNER: Tessa Hunt, SMOG
Maybe the most difficult player to defend in the division, what Tessa did to very good defenders at Nationals was almost rude at times. She’s developed into a good thrower, particularly when going deep, and her outstanding athleticism means she can defend anyone she needs to. It’s her cutting prowess that really stands out, though, as she just runs past people to get score after score, and if they actually can keep up with them she just goes over the top to sky them. A tour-de-force performance in the Nationals final put the cherry on top of an excellent season.
Third place: Rupal Ghelani, SYC
It takes a special player to be considered for the Player of the Season despite not making the final at Nationals – it’s a conversation that has been had many times in many sports, but team and individual success are so difficult to disentangle in a sporting context. Rupal, though, is one such player. She seemingly has fewer and fewer weaknesses every year, a testament to her dedication and work ethic to continue improving. She had another brilliant season for SYC in 2021 and there’s no reason to expect her to stop improving at this stage.
Second place: Molly Wedge, Bristol Women
A spectacular addition to an already excellent team, Molly added exactly what Bristol needed to win back the title they won in 2018. She’s a very good thrower but it’s her ability downfield on both sides of the disc that sets her apart. Her ability to get open and generate yards and positive plays in high-pressure situations was absolutely crucial, particularly in the final, and her defence was unbelievable all season. With her in the fold, Bristol will have a chance in any game.
WINNER: Carla Link, Bristol Women
Carla has been one of the best players in the division for the last few years, and been one of the players people have known about as an up-and-comer for even longer than that. In the last few seasons her dedication to consistent improvement has elevated her game to another level. She’s a good defender and can cause problems downfield, but there’s no better player in the division at running a game, breaking marks and driving the disc downfield. Another player with a spectacular performance in the Nationals final for a Bristol team missing her longtime teammates and favourite targets Alice Beeching and Bailey Melvin Teng, her partnership with Molly was crucial. They’re deservedly our top two.
Third place: Ollie Gordon, Clapham Ultimate
Ollie has played with Clapham since 2014, and this season diversified to go onto the O line as a downfield threat. His height and athleticism made him a perfect fit in the role. He was open whenever Clapham needed him to be, he was able to make big plays but perhaps most importantly he was able to make run-of-the-mill plays, the basic stuff that looks easy when an offence is flowing well and is vital to teams winning. When you’re playing the kind of opposition that Clapham plays, getting everyone’s best shot, that stuff definitely isn’t easy. That it looked easy was testament to how well Ollie played.
Second place: Justin Foord, Clapham Ultimate
Justin is maybe the best player to come out of the UK. He’s won all 13 national title since he joined Clapham in 2008, and has also won eight European titles. Despite that longevity, he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. If you’re reading this I don’t really need to explain what Justin is good at, but just in case you do here’s a hint: it’s everything. He’s developed into an excellent thrower and he’s still able to go over the top of almost anyone if he needs to. That he’s second here is something of an upset and probably a result of one other person having a brilliant season rather than any slip from Justin.
WINNER: Connor McHale, Clapham Ultimate
Connor joined Clapham in 2016 as a fairly raw athlete. He’s always been fast and able to jump, and he has always been able to throw a long way, but his throwing was still a work in progress as was his field awareness. In the last five years he’s worked on every aspect of his game, responding to missing out on the 2018 WUCC roster by making himself better and better until he’s now central to the success of the team. He’s now the main threat with the disc on Clapham’s D line, throwing a number of assists in the national final and scoring the final point both there and at Euros in Bruges to snatch the title back from CUSB. He’s still athletic, he still gets huge layout blocks and he still pulls better than maybe anyone else in the division, but the addition of his ability to control the offence after the turn means he is the Player of the Year this season.