Dave Challinor discusses his Hartlepool United ‘players of the season’ following Rhys Oates' awards clean sweep
Rhys Oates was named as Hartlepool United’s fans’ and players’ player of the season following the end of the regular 2020-21 campaign.
The 26-year-old scored 14 goals in 37 league games following his return to Pools last summer to help the side secure a play-off finish for the first time since 2005.
As well as getting the clean sweep in the end of season awards, Oates also ended the league season as the side’s top goalscorer while also scoring a handful of goal of the season contenders along the way.
While the forward’s previous spell at Victoria Park was a divisive one in the eyes of Hartlepool supporters, he seems to have won everyone around with his displays this campaign.
And with Oates returning to Pools on the back of an injury hit season at Morecambe, manager Dave Challinor has been delighted to see the gamble pay off.
“We brought Oatesy back in, not so much to prove a point but I think he had critics from when he was here previously,” Challinor said.
“He’s not had a great year last year but it was an opportunity for him. I told him I believed he could score us 15 goals a season and he’s got about that which is great.
"I had a feeling he’d be more effective in a more central area than a wide area."
And when put on the spot about his vote for player of the season, Challnor responded: “For the first time in a while people have said that there could be an argument for lots of players to win awards.
"Individual awards are great but collective awards are much better.
"You could quite easily make arguments and say Ben [Killip] with his record, Lidds [Gary Liddle] with his record might deserve comment, Johno [Ryan Johnson] has come in from nowhere and done really well, Feaths [Nicky Featherstone] has been as steady as anything all season.
"I’m missing people out but there are lots of players who haven’t just been consistent, they’ve put us in a position where over the course of 42 games we’re the fourth best team in the league.
"We just hope that the players that we’ve spoke about can step up and show of the six teams remaining, we’re the best of those six.”