Duckworth surprised to win Hartlepool Utd Supporters Away Player of the Year award

The Hartlepool United Player of the Year awards were held at the Staincliffe Hotel in Seaton Carew last night (TUES). Michael Duckworth receives his Away Player of the Year award from Pauline McSweeney of the Supporters Association.
The Hartlepool United Player of the Year awards were held at the Staincliffe Hotel in Seaton Carew last night (TUES). Michael Duckworth receives his Away Player of the Year award from Pauline McSweeney of the Supporters Association.

IT IS not the most glamorous of positions.

But over the years, Hartlepool United supporters have taken more than one right-back to their hearts.

Over the last decade or three, Keith Nobbs, Darren Knowles and Michael Barron have been real favourites.

Michael Duckworth has become another – so much so that he broke the domination of Luke James and Brad Walker at the club’s awards night on Tuesday.

Teenagers James and Walker shared four of the trophies while Duckworth, no veteran himself at the age of 21, picked up the Supporters Away Player of the Year prize.

The Yorkshireman was plucked last summer from non-league football at Bradford Park Avenue by boss Colin Cooper.

It proved an inspired signing – the former York City youth player becoming the first-choice right back.

Duckworth can defend as he proved by making two vital tackles in those desperately nervous late minutes in the 2-1 Easter Monday comeback win over Morecambe.

But it has been his penchant for going forward which has truly caught the eye, Duckworth at times playing as an extra winger,

“I was surprised,” said the German-born player.

“I did not expect to win any award – so I’m very grateful for the fans for picking me.

“I have had great support and comments from the fans, I’ve not had many negatives at all.

“I’ve loved my time here – becoming a professional footballer is something I’d always dreamed of.

“There’s not many people who can probably say they do a job they love, but I do.

“But I know it’s not a long career so I will keep working hard and trying the best I can.”

Duckworth has been a first-choice selection for Cooper – making 32 league and cup appearances.

His only interruptions have been two injury absences this year but he’s beginning to re-discover his form.

“I don’t think I’ve come back as good as I was before, but there have been a few niggles,” he said.

“But once the season ends, I will rest up in the summer, don’t do anything stupid and then come back fit and 100 per cent next year and look to push on.”

So can Pools finish off on a high tomorrow against Exeter City at Victoria Park.

“Hopefully,” said Duckworth, who is looking forward to another big crowd with Pools having another Pack the Park day when admission is only a fiver.

“We want to finish on a positive not a negative.

“We’ll be going all out to win.

“The Morecambe result took a big weight off our shoulders.

“It wasn’t great having Si [Walton] sent off but that seemed to give the team a spark and Jack Compton and Jack Barmby made an impact from the bench.

“So against Exeter we can go out and enjoy the game, hopefully in front of another big crowd.

“Exeter are a good side and we’re expecting a hard match but they all are in this league.

“It’s the last game and we’re looking forward to going out and expressing ourselves and hopefully getting the three points.”