It’s fair to say 2016 has been quite the year in the Ladbrokes SPFL – and we figured it’s time to salute the men who made it so special.
From the Heart of Midlothian full-back with the incredible striking stat, to Dunfermline’s dynamic boss and East Fife’s rising star, here are our fantastic five for 2016.
Callum Paterson (Heart of Midlothian)
A Scotland debut in May of this year was no more than the young right-back’s performances deserved, following stellar performances in Hearts’ first season back in the top flight. And his importance was outlined by several losses during his absences with injury.
This season he’s looked even more assured, with his fine display in November’s 2-0 triumph over Rangers the pick of his performances. And with eight goals in all competitions, he’s also the club’s highest scorer this season. Not bad for a player who only turned 22 in October.
Leigh Griffiths (Celtic)
While summer additions Moussa Dembele and Scott Sinclair have stolen some of the headlines this season, 2016 has still very much been the year of Griffiths at Parkhead.
He’s netted 24 league goals – and counting – in the calendar year, including a stellar hat-trick against Hamilton Academical and an absolute stunner against Ross County to all but secure the league title last season.
The wealth of attacking quality Celtic possess means the 26-year-old has had to be patient in waiting for opportunities this season, but he’s taken them with open arms when they’ve arrived – netting in each of his last three games to take his Ladbrokes Premiership total to seven for the season.
Allan Johnston (Dunfermline Athletic)
The Pars were a winning machine in the first half of 2016, becoming the first senior team anywhere in the U.K. to attain promotion. They took 36 points from 17 League 1 games, chalking up 6-1 and 5-0 maulings of Stranraer and Stenhousemuir respectively.
And Johnston’s men are holding their own in a very competitive Ladbrokes Championship so far this season. Unbeaten in their last four games, they currently occupy seventh place, and have a realistic shot at the promotion play-offs if they can continue this good form.
Jason Kerr (East Fife)
From a promotion hero in the dugout to one on the pitch. Nobody has done more to revive the Methil club’s fortunes in 2016 than tenacious teenage defender Kerr.
Composed on the ball, difficult to shake off and pacy, the 19-year-old has all the attributes to become a household name in Scottish football – especially if he continues to score vital goals.
His winner at Gayfield back in April was a huge step towards a fiercely-contested Ladbrokes League 2 title, while he’s also made the transition to the third tier seamlessly, with the Fifers boasting the joint-second best defensive record in the division.
Shane Sutherland (Peterhead/Elgin City)
The scourge of defences across Ladbrokes League 1 last season, it was quite a coup when Elgin City convinced the 26-year-old hitman to drop down a level to join them in the summer – and he’s unsurprisingly proved a brilliant buy.
With 17 goals in all competitions already this season, there’s little doubt that Sutherland is the biggest talent in the fourth tier. And having scored a number of crucial goals for the Blue Toon earlier in the calendar year, there’s every chance he can handle the step up if Elgin win promotion this season.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing