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International defenders Bart Schenkeveld and Lauren Barnes have won Melbourne City’s A-League and W-League player of the year awards.
The medals were a triumph for consistency over the highlights reel.
Schenkeveld didn’t reach the heights of Ross McCormack, who stayed for only half a season but won the club’s golden boot, or Daniel Arzani, who emerged halfway through the season to dazzle on the wing.
But the Dutchman’s contributions, mainly from centre back, won over City coach Warren Joyce and the judging panel.
“Bart is a strong and passionate player for us who has adjusted well to the A-League but most importantly has provided a key link between defence and midfield,” Joyce said.
“We wanted to build the team’s foundations around a strong defensive set-up and Bart has helped to drive the team from the back.”
Schenkeveld played 25 of 27 matches for City through the campaign as the club recorded its highest A-League finish of third, conceding a club-record 33 goals.
City’s coaches – Joyce, Tony Vidmar, Jess Vanstrattan and Patrick Kisnorbo – voted on the awards.
But City’s fans disagreed with their choice, naming Arzani as the supporter’s player of the year.
The 19-year-old only made his full debut in January but is now in contention to play at the World Cup in June after a series of eye-catching displays.
McCormack, who couldn’t agree terms with the club to stay beyond the January transfer window, top-scored with 14 goals.
Barnes won out over Jess Fishlock, Kyah Simon and Yukari Kinga for the W-League award in another City championship season.
Kisnorbo, the club’s W-League coach, said the American had an exceptional season.
“She is one of the most hard-working and dedicated athletes, plays with her heart on her sleeve and set out to achieve wonderful things with this team,” he said.
Fishlock, who scored in both the club’s semi-final and final victories, won the golden boot with five goals.
Popular duo Luke Brattan and Steph Catley won the clubman and coach’s awards, while Tasmanian wing-back Nathaniel Atkinson was named the club’s rising star.
City host Brisbane on Friday night in an elimination final – the third time the A-League expansion side has hosted a final in its history.