Unsung hero David Perkins was left to reflect on ‘an absolute bonus’ of a season after sweeping the board at Wigan Athletic’s awards bash.
The 33-year-old picked up all three Player of the Year gongs – from his team-mates, the Supporters Club and also the public vote – at a glittering dinner at the DW Stadium.
Perkins joined Latics on a free transfer last summer from Blackpool, becoming Gary Caldwell’s first signing of the close-season, to little or no fanfare.
But he’s played virtually every minute of every game this term to reward Caldwell for the faith shown in him, as well as helping Latics secure the League One title.
And Perkins himself admitted he couldn’t have dared to dream of a better script at this stage of his career.
“Probably not, probably not,” he acknowledged. “I was thinking more of maybe getting another year here, another year there, and maybe working my way down the leagues.
“What’s happened has been an absolute bonus, and I feel very lucky the way it’s turned out.
“I’ve had a brilliant season, and a brilliant time at Wigan.
“The lads have been brilliant, the club’s been brilliant, and I’m lucky to be playing with such a talented squad under a great management team.
“I feel I’ve contributed to the team, but the squad’s got so much talent it’s untrue.
“I’ve just tried to do that hard work and give the ball to someone like Yanic (Wildschut) or Max (Power) or Will (Grigg).”
After a sluggish start, caused by a summer of upheaval, Latics gradually found their feet in the third tier, with a 20-game unbeaten run between December and April taking them up to top spot.
Perkins, though, was never in any doubt the campaign wouldn’t be ending without a promotion party.
“It’s not come as any great surprise to me that we’re going up, because those were the objectives,” he revealed.
“You could see from back in pre-season that the club was so motivated, the gaffer was so driven, that we’d be there or thereabouts.
“The management team was adamant that was going to happen, and fair play to the lads for buying into that.
“The objectives were put out there early doors – the chairman said he wanted to win the league, with 100 points and 100 goals.
“We knew the pressure was on from an early stage, but we’ve dealt with that pretty well all season.
“It couldn’t have gone any better, but all that comes from the hard work we’ve put in. It’s not come easy.”
Midfielder Jordan Flores was the other big winner on the night.
The 20-year-old local lad was named Young Player of the Year, while his volley against Fleetwood, on his first league start in September, was voted ‘Goal of the Season’.
Max Power won Community Player of the Year, Will Grigg the Golden Boot, while Luke Burke, 18, was the recipient of the ‘Michael Millett’ award, for best Academy talent.