ANOTHER thrilling season in the English Football League has come to a close, full of ecstasy and agony, new heroes and villains.
In my role as the Sun’s Football League reporter, I have witnessed many special moments first-hand.
From Brighton’s historic promotion to Blackburn’s tragic exit, from AFC Wimbledon taking on MK Dons in the league for the first time to Millwall’s shameful pitch invasion at Wembley.
Keep up to date with ALL the EFL news, gossip, transfers and goals on our dedicated page plus fixtures, results and analysis
After all those games, interviews and many, many miles up and down the country, I bring to you ‘The Barclays’ – my end-of-season awards recognising those players and teams who were right on the money, and a few prizes for those left owing a debt to their supporters.
Team of the Year
GK: Ali Al-Habsi (Reading)
DF: Bruno (Brighton) / Lewis Dunk (Brighton) / Ciaran Clark (Newcastle) / Chris Lowe (Huddersfield)
MD: Anthony Knockaert (Brighton) / Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield) / Tom Cairney (Fulham) / Matt Ritchie (Newcastle)
FD: Dwight Gayle (Newcastle) / Chris Wood (Leeds)
Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield)
NOBODY had a clue who this shy Aussie was when Manchester City signed him this summer.
At 26, many fans would have presumed Mooy was brought in simply to strengthen City’s ties with its sister club Melbourne City Down Under.
But the culture midfielder has been a revelation on loan at the John Smith’s and looks the player most ready for the Premier League out of the whole division.
He’s probably not quite good enough to cut it in Pep Guardiola’s first team but expect the ex-Bolton kid to be playing in the top flight somewhere next season.
Best young Player
Tammy Abraham (Bristol City)
CHELSEA have a serious prospect on their hands in Abraham.
The 19-year-old will need to have a successful Premier League loan before we can start discussing if he has a genuine chance of making it through to Antonio Conte’s first team.
But the potential is certain and was there for all to see during a fruitful temporary spell at struggling Bristol City this year.
Twenty-three Championship goals, three in the League Cup and a pair for the England Under-21s tell the story – this kid is a natural-born finisher.
Jaap Stam (Reading)
THE Dutchman is single-handedly undermining the argument that managers need time to make an impact at a club.
Brought in less than a year ago, Stam has taken a Royals side going nowhere to one game from the Prem.
And he has done it with largely the same group of players who are now playing an expansive, passing style – flying in the face of those snipers who suggest England’s second tier is all kick ‘n rush.
His transformation has been so vast that I fear for Reading when they inevitably lose the ex-Manchester United defender, who looks set for the very top in management just like in his playing career.
Goal of the season
Jonny Howson (Norwich, v Nottingham Forest, February 11, 2017)
THINK Paul Scholes against Aston Villa – only better.
As a poor corner was headed away high outside the box, Forest probably thought they had dealt with the danger.
Little did they know that Howson would crack the dropping ball into the roof of the net from 25 yards with the sweetest of volleys.
The tough technique to cut across the ball and hit it so crisply makes it possibly the best Championship goal of the last decade.
Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham)
WHEN I asked Tom Cairney about Sessegnon’s qualities, the Fulham midfielder said he could not get his head around how it was possible for a 16-year-old to be that good.
Cairney likened Sessegnon to Ashley Cole but even the legendary England full-back had to wait until 18 to make his debut.
Sessegnon, now 17, reminds me more of a young Gareth Bale with his ability to go forward and score goals.
Different players mature at different times and of course there is a chance he may just be an early bloomer who plateaus in his early 20s.
But the way he put Newcastle to the sword at St James’ Park in March makes me predict that will not be the case, and that instead he could develop into an England superstar.
Brighton after winning promotion
SEAGULLS supporters will never forget the win over Wigan which landed them a first-ever promotion to the Premier League.
And I and my esteemed journalistic colleagues will certainly never forget having our press box at the Amex commandeered by jubilant players for the celebrations!
Star man Anthony Knockaert led the festivities by belting out a number of triumphant chants on the microphone to an adoring crowd who had invaded the pitch.
It was a cracking day 34 years in the making which reminded you just how much joy our beautiful game can bring.
Glenn Murray (Brighton)
ALBION came within a whisker of automatic promotion last season, missing out on goal difference.
Perhaps what they lacked was a little top-level experience.
At least, that is clearly what Chris Hughton thought as he drafted in veteran striker Glenn Murray on loan from Bournemouth, before turning the move permanent in January.
It proved to be an inspired bit of business as Murray hit an impressive 23 goals and used all his 33 years of canny know-how to power Brighton to promotion.
Ross McCormack (Aston Villa)
FROM hero to Villan, it has been a nightmare season for my pick for player of the season last year.
McCormack equalled goals at Fulham. Be it scoring them or creating them, he always found a way to unlock the door of opposition defences.
Now the Scot is better known for being unable to unlock the gates to the opposing fences surrounding his own house.
The £12million striker hit just three goals for Villa before being shipped out on loan to Nottingham Forest, where he barely played.
Birmingham’s owners for sacking Gary Rowett
AXING Rowett and replacing him with Gianfranco Zola will go down as one of the most clueless decisions a board has done in recent times.
It almost cost Brum, who were near the play-offs when the Italian came in, their Championship status until Harry Redknapp’s rescue mission saved the day.
It suggested the Blues’ new owners, Trillion Trophy Asia, had no idea about English football.
We can only hope that Blues’ owners they have learnt their lesson for next season.
Barclay’s pre-season tips v what actually happened
Barclay table (Where they actually finished)
1 Newcastle (1)
2 Derby (9)
3 Norwich (8)
4 Sheffield Wednesday (4)
5 Brighton (2)
6 Aston Villa (13)
7 Leeds (7)
8 Wolves (15)
9 Ipswich (16)
10 Cardiff (12)
11 QPR (18)
12 Birmingham (19)
13 Bristol City (17)
14 Brentford (10)
15 Reading (3)
16 Wigan (23)
17 Preston (11)
18 Huddersfield (5)
19 Barnsley (14)
20 Fulham (6)
21 Nottingham Forest (21)
22 Blackburn (22)
23 Burton (20)
24 Rotherham (24)