Blowing Bubbles End of Season Awards 2023

Blowing Bubbles writers David Meagher, Bradley Holland, Meirion Williams, Marcus Johns, David Bowden, Lucy Farrell, Liv Elliott and Geoff Hillyer help us choose our End of Season award winners

Declan Rice (WHU) at the West Ham United v Chelsea EPL match, at the London Stadium, London, UK on February 11, 2023.

Player of the Season: Declan Rice

David Meagher: Lots of strong performances, mainly in the final 10-12 games including Benrahma, Aguerd and Paqueta but it’s got to be Captain Rice for his consistency and brilliance.

Bradley Holland: Rice Rice baby…has to be Declan Rice.  Without any real goalscorers, or new wonders that exceeded expectations. Declan Rice is the stand out performer.  His consistency, ability to influence matches, his break-up play and stopping starlit opposition has held us together over the season.  Despite his aims to leave, and his not quite matured captaining he’s held West Ham’s safety in his hands.

Meirion Williams: There will no doubt be a huge amount of votes for Declan and for Jarrod but for me the player that really stood out for me is Lucas Paqueta who just seemed to grow and grow as the season went on. Some of his tricks were outstanding and who can forget that through ball for Bowen’s winner in the final, absolutely spot on. So for me it has to be Paqueta.

Marcus Johns – It has to be Declan Rice. Had the season gone on for another couple of months, Paqueta may have pipped him, but in what was predominantly a fairly turgid season, he was the most consistent bright beacon of hope.

David Bowden: Jarrod Bowen – Easy decision for me, Jarrod gave me a moment that I will never forget. After a slow start to the season, the winger came to form after the World Cup. He has come up with plenty of important goals, and none more so than that in Prague.

Lucy Farrell: Paqueta comes close for just being so naturally brilliant. Bowen also could have been picked because he came up with outstanding play for important moments. But without Declan Rice, this season could have been very different – he stood up when he needed to and led by example, so for that reason it’s him.

Liv Elliott: Has to go to Declan Rice. To captain West Ham and lift the Conference League trophy at 24 years of age is incredible. Most of us think that would’ve been his last season so my vote goes to Rice Rice baby! 

Geoff Hillyer: Declan Rice. Who else? The guy just oozes class – and not just on the pitch, but off it, too. Just an outstanding footballer and human being. There’s a reason why he’s been Hammer of the Year three times, including this year. If he goes, we will really miss him.

Young Player of the Season: Divin Mubama

DM: Does Flynn Downes qualify? If not Divin Mubama was the youngster who brought the most excitement to proceedings

BH: Curveball here, but I’ll have to say Flynn Downes.  He is a regular team player and not necessarily young, but he’s come up from the Championship and Moyes treats him like an academy player.  Without giving much playing time to any other academy player, I think Downes is the future, and may hold the captains armband one day.

MW: There are not many that really broke into the first team this year so I have to look at the youth team and there is one that really stands out that being Devin Mubama. It’s pretty clear the youngster has a bright future . I just hope Moyes sees this and he gets more first team opportunities

MJ: Before the season, I’d have predicted this to be Ben Johnson, but his performances sadly fell by the wayside a tad. As such, for his exploits in the all-conquering U-18’s, for playing his way into first team reckoning, for making his debut, for getting his goal, it has to be Divin Mubama.

DB: Divine Mubama – A league and cup double at youth level, and some important goals for the under 23’s as well. This kid has an incredibly bright future at the club if his upwards trajectory continues in the way it has been. Was also lovely to see him net in the Conference League as well with a quality instinct finish. Hopefully, he is just one of a number coming through the academy in the near future.

LF: It has to be Divin Mubama, for slotting into the first team so well when called upon. He’s got his first goal under his belt and looks to be a really powerful player. Hopefully we’ll see more of him next season. 

LE: Mubama. His work rate on the pitch is unbelievable the boy doesn’t stop running. After his reaction in Bucharest to scoring and then his goal against AEK Larnaca was great. He contributed to winning the conference league at such a young age!

GH: Divin Mubama. It’s been quite a year for our U18 side, winning the FA Youth Cup – and Mubama finished top scorer in the contest with the highlight being a hat-trick in the semi final. Scored against AEK Larnaca in the Europa Conference League. Big things from him to come. 

Goal of the Season: Jarrod Bowen v Fiorentina (2-1 N)

DM: Declan Rice’s mazey run in Europe was class but it can only be Jarrod Bowen’s winner in Prague – the timing, Paqueta’s super pass and Bowen’s cool finishing were special.

BH: For pure novelty – Fornals scorpion kick should be considered goal of the season, but I will have to say that Bowen’s final goal to seal the trophy in Prague was the most fabulous goal of the season.

MW: There is only one and that has to be Jarrod Bowens winner in that European final. I truly. believe that only Jarrod would have had the nerve to slot that ball home. We have seen so many players one on one with the keeper and squander the chance. That goal not only secured the win but also European football next season so it has to be that one.

MJ: a few contenders instantly spring to mind.  Gideon Kodua’s 40 yard lob in the U18 Final was as good as I’ve seen live – and a Puskas nomination can’t be sniffed at. But if we’re considering only the first team goals as candidates, it has to be Pablo Fornals vs Bournemouth

DB: Manual Lanzini vs Leeds – The trickery down the right hand side by Lucas Paqueta was samba special. Harry Potter would be proud of that magic as his dancing feet fooled three defenders and left them on their bum. In truth, Manu couldn’t really miss but the build up play for that goal was bordering on world-class and if that is what we can expect now from Lucas, bring it on. Honorable mentions to Benrahma for his rocket against Crystal Palace, and Fornal’s scorpion kick vs Bournemouth as well.

LF: There have been a few – Fornals deserves a mention for his scorpion flick, for which we may build a statue in a normal season. I purred over Declan’s goal against Gent. But when I close my eyes and think of the best moment, I can’t see past Jarrod Bowen’s Conference final winner. It was a lovely finish in the perfect moment. 

LE: Has to be Pablo Fornals scorpion kick! Watching him do that live in front of me I really couldn’t believe it and nor could he. Just watching it roll in I was thinking “surely not” but then celebration limbs were incredible for that goal!

GH: Pablo Fornals v AZ Alkmaar, Europa Conference League semi-final, second leg. There were loads I could choose from but for me, this was the goal that made me most emotional, yes even more so than the winner in the final. If any player deserved it, it was Pablo. Fantastic run and finish, and it meant a European final. Wonderful.

Best Team Performance of the Season: Against Arsenal (2-2 H)

DM: A stuttering season in the Premier League but with a decent run in that included a brilliant team performance to beat Man Utd 1-0 at the start of May. The 4-0 thrashing of Bournemouth away from home was a close second for me.

BH: Our second match versus Arsenal was the standout performance of the season; even with the 4-0 win over Bournemouth to show our power, playing well against on-form Arsenal with fight and determination made me believe again.

MW: Yeh comeback against Arsenal at home is the one for me. We looked down and out going down 2-0 and I really thought we were dead and buried. To come back and get a draw seemed to be the launching pad for our league season and was an important point to ensure that our league safety was secured well before those last two league games

MJ: With so much in the balance over our season as a whole at the time, the character showed in coming from 2-0 down to snatch a draw against title chasing Arsenal has to be the standout performance for me. Especially when you consider we’d just come off the back of a 5-1 against Newcastle!

DB: Not a sexy one – but Manchester United at home (1-0): This win set everything up for us leading to Prague. It meant we were safe and we could start to rotate a little. Not only that, but we battered United for large spells of that game. Two disallowed goals and a couple of woodwork hits meant 1-0 massively flattered Ten Haags men. Yes, the eventual winner was a stroke of luck, but the result was more than deserved.

LF: I agree with the Arsenal comeback. We looked down and out after 10 minutes but they showed their true spirit in the second half, at the time of the season we really needed it. It took a lot not to just roll over and concede to the Premier League title chasers, at the time.  

LE: Arsenal at home. To go 2-0 down within 9 minutes was scary as I thought we were going to be embarrassed. To come back and take a point away from that game was incredible. To also help stop Arsenal from winning the league was pretty sweet as well.

GH: I could have gone for a couple of the victories in the PL – the 1-0 against Man Utd, the 4-0 away at Bournemouth – but our second leg against AZ Alkmaar in the Europa Conference League semi-final was a thoroughly professional performance in a difficult atmosphere, in a pressurised game. And we won!

Best Individual Performance of the Season: Lucas Paqueta v Leeds (3-1 H)

DM: Lucas Paqueta against Bournemouth, he was on a different level to everyone else.

BH: It’s hard to remember any standout performances; as I said we didnt have exceptional goal scorers or players that shone or worked magic as in years passed.  Recently Pacqueta in the conference league has worked wonders.

MW: I think I have to go back to Paqueta against Arsenal where he showed that he belonged on that field. Some of his touches that day were simply amazing. 

MJ: Scamacca’s poise and prowess in a 2-0 win over Wolves showing us what he can do was a contender, but I have to say Lucas Paqueta against Leeds was probably the one that had me off my seat the most.

DB: Lucas Paqueta vs Fiorentina – The Brazilian worked his socks off, and in a game where Declan Rice wasn’t at his best, Paqueta more than stepped up. He was his typical tenacious self in the tackle, he tracked back, and dictated every good move the Hammers had. His one moment of magic will live in the memory of every West Ham fan worldwide, his inch perfect pass to set Bowen on his way to writing himself in West Ham folklore was magestic.

LF: I’m going with Marcus on this one, Paqueta at Leeds was wonderful to watch. His stats backed up his Brazilian flair and it seemed to good to be true that he plays for West Ham that day!

LE: Jarrod Bowen against Everton at home. Was a lovely moment for him to score 2 goals on the day him and Dani Dyer were expecting twins was marvellous. To also cost Lampard losing his job was a good days work.

GH: I was erring towards Rice v Gent but my vote goes to Jarrod Bowen v Everton, 21 January 2023. Hadn’t scored in a couple of months, vital match, two first half goals, they couldn’t deal with him, and all in the week he discovered he would be a dad to twins. 

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