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Betts beats the rest to win Fan of the Year award
Tuesday 23rd May 2017 @ 12:14 by Mark Phillip
Football Sports

A Stalybridge Celtic supporter says he’s over the moon after scooping a prestigious national award.

Andrew Betts, 17, has been crowned as the Non-League Paper’s Fan of the Year, for his dedication to the club during the 2016/17 season.

Sponsored by William Hill, the award is aimed at non-league supporters who have stood out among the crowd throughout the entire campaign.

Speaking to Reporter Sport, Andrew said he was privileged to receive the award, while adding: “I don’t really like to take credit for anything – I just like to keep my head down.

“I found out that I won the award about a week and a half ago, just before it was announced, and I was invited down to Stamford Bridge for the awards ceremony last Wednesday, but unfortunately I couldn’t make it down there.

“I’m really happy with it.”

Having been introduced to Celtic by his father in 2007, Andrew said he fell in love with the club due to its family friendly nature and welcoming ethos. “I was introduced to Celtic by my dad during the playoff season, and I’ve been going ever since then” said Andrew.

“My dad was a Liverpool fan and he used to take me to a couple of games with him, but then I went to Celtic and everything was different.

“You go to matches at Liverpool and just watch the football, whereas with Celtic you’re part of a big group of friends, who are all talking and having a drink with each other, and you can also interact with the people that work there.”

Andrew’s love for Celtic stretches way beyond support on the terrace.

In fact, amongst the number of voluntary roles he carries out at the club, Andrew organises away travel for the Celtic faithful. He said: “When i first started going to Celtic, the club really got me involved with everything and I felt accepted into a group.

“I started attending away fixtures about three years ago when there were coaches going to every game, but that seemed to stop so I was forced to get trains to every away game.

“I wanted to get the coach travel up and running again, so I contacted Shaun Bishop who helped me organise it.

“I try and help the club out whenever they need it, and I just feel like it’s a proper family club.”

A popular face at Bower Fold, Andrew has experienced some ups – but mainly downs – during his ten years supporting Celtic.

Apart from reaching the playoff final in 2008, Andrew says his fondest memory of the club was competing in the FA Cup First Round at League One Doncaster Rovers in 2015. “We took around 950 fans to Doncaster which was a great experience” said Andrew.

“I’ve not seen that level of support since the playoff season.”

Although last season is one he’d rather forget, Andrew believes that, under the guidance of Steve Burr, the club can bounce right back up. He said: “They couldn’t really have appointed anyone better than Steve Burr, as he’s done it before.

“I’m quite surprised that we’ve still got him to be honest, as I see him as a Conference Premier manager.

“He got some results with players that weren’t his last season, so once he assembles his own squad and gets them playing the way he wants to, then the title is definitely something we’ve got to be looking at.”

Andrew, who is a trainee accountant at Geoffrey Beech and Co in Ashton, believes the club is ‘too big’ to be playing in step seven football.

With this in mind, he says reaching the playoffs is a minimum requirement next season. “I’ve spoke to a few people at Celtic and their aim is to claim the title, but if you look at the likes of Altrincham, they’ve made a few great signings already” he said.

“Playoffs has to be a minimum expectation next season, as we look to bounce straight back into the National League North.”

Asked if he reserved special praise for anyone in particular at the club, Andrew said: “I’d like to thank Michael Beech, who is the General Manager, and Syd White, Chief Operating Officer, who have both helped me greatly at the club.

“I’d also like to thank Shaun Bishop for his help – they’re the main three.”