Defender hails team-mates after picking up top WBADSC honourGARETH McAuley hailed the chemistry in the Baggies squad as he yesterday picked up the West Bromwich Albion Disabled Supporters’ Club Player-of-the-Year award.
The centre-half says he is humbled to receive the honour ahead of some worthy contenders in Steve Clarke’s eighth-placed squad.
And he believes he is producing his best football because of the all-for-one and one-for-all bond his team-mates have forged.
“It’s humbling to have won this award with all the great players we have - I’m very proud,” said McAuley.
“It’s an honour to win any individual award but it’s even nicer when it comes from people who pay to watch you throughout the season and they appreciate the efforts you go to week in, week out.
“It’s hard to weigh up if it’s my best-ever season because when you play at different levels of football things are different.
“I’ve certainly felt quite comfortable in the division this season and I’ve really enjoyed my football.
“I really enjoy playing my football here so I’m happy and if that culminates in good performances then I’m glad.
“Last season I settled in and got to grips with things.
“I still couldn’t really believe I was here and was playing every week in the Premier League.
“This season I tried to move it on and be better again, hopefully next season I can go and be better again.”
The Northern Ireland international, who has missed only one Barclays Premier League game this season, added: “It’s a great club.
“The dressing room and the lads here are fantastic and it’s great to be a part of it.
“You play for them and you don’t want to let them down.
“You try your best for them every week and that’s a thing throughout the group.
“Everyone is trying their best for each other.
“The best way to describe it is like playing with your mates.
“It’s the closest I’ve come to that feeling throughout my career, apart from when you’re younger and you’re playing with your friends.
“We’re all pals, we push each other, drive each other and want the best for each other – it’s a great thing to have at the football club.
“A lot of us live in the same area and have kids.
“We get together outside the club, and when we have time off we go and play golf and other things.
“Football can be a lonely place sometimes but here we have a group of players that all get on – and that’s great for the club and players that come in.
“I know when I was coming to the club there were a lot of questions asked and I had phone calls from people I know in the game to say the club had been asking about me.
“They were just finding out about my personality and traits, and what I could bring.
“I’m sure the club will go down the same route this summer because everyone they’ve brought in since I’ve been here has fitted in and has a place within the squad and team.”