Port Vale loanee Nathan Smith was ‘over the moon’ to be named Torquay United’s Player and Young Player of the Year at the weekend.
His performances have earned rave reviews and were acknowledged when he was presented with both of the club’s end-of-season trophies prior to Saturday’s draw with Barrow.
“It was great,” Smith told port-vale.co.uk. “The first thought throughout the season was to stay up after the position we got ourselves into.
“But to be rewarded with these awards is just the cherry on top of a tough but enjoyable season and I’m over the moon with it really.”
The Gulls have achieved somewhat of a ‘great escape’ over the last couple months.
In a matter of weeks they have gone from staring relegation in the face to confirming their place in the National League for next season.
Smith has played a key role in that u-turn and he believes the experience will be massively beneficial for him moving forward.
“It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster of a season to be honest,” he said.
“We started off with the first few games which were decent, we won a few, and then I don’t really know what happened.
“We got ourselves into a mess, the first gaffer left, Nicko came in, there were a lot of changes but somehow we’ve got to safety with two games to spare.
“Everyone had pretty much written us off so to be honest just to be involved in that was good and I’m sure it will be remembered for a while down here.”
Smith spent time on loan at Stafford Rangers last season and was part of the side which won the Staffordshire Senior Cup at Vale Park.
But with over 200 miles separating Torquay and Burslem, this term has been a new experience altogether for the youngster.
“It’s something completely different,” he commented. “I’ve enjoyed it, I’ve had to adapt to it, cooking for myself and everything, not being looked after.
“It’s been an experience and I’ve enjoyed it. They’ve looked after me well at Torquay and I’m sure it’s made me a better person and more mature living away from home.
“But most of all playing games in the National League, it’s helped me improve on my game.”
There were plenty of highs and lows throughout the course of the campaign but there is one moment in particular that will live long in Smith’s memory.
“The highlight of the season for me was probably scoring a bicycle kick I got robbed of,” he added. “That’s something I’ll never do again but something I’ll always remember.
“It was against Kidderminster at home but I wasn’t awarded with it, they gave it as an own goal off the goalkeeper but I’ll always count it as mine.”
Images by @ppauk