Whalley’s Joe Garner had double cause for celebration on Sunday night at the Football League Awards at The Brewery in London.
The Preston North End striker won two awards – the League 1 player of the year accolade and Mitre Football League goal of the year for his memorable volley against Rotherham United in the play-off semi-final at Deepdale last season.
Garner, 27, was up against Bristol City midfielder Luke Freeman and MK Dons’ Spurs-bound Dele Alli for the player of the year gong, which was voted for by the 24 managers in the division.
Middlesbrough striker Patrick Bamford, on loan from Chelsea, was the Championship player of the year, with MK Dons midfielder Alli named the Football League’s young player of the year.
Garner scored his 22nd goal of the campaign in Preston’s 2-2 draw at Port Vale on Friday night, netting from the penalty spot.
He did not attend the awards ceremony as North End were in training on Monday ahead of Tuesday night’s clash with Notts County at Meadow Lane.
A boyhood North End fan, Garner’s move to Preston has reinvigorated his career, helping push the Lilywhites into promotion contention.
Last season he hit 24 goals as Preston reached the play-offs, and, despite an injury absence this term, he has again been in prolific form this season, with Simon Grayson’s men hoping to claim automatic promotion behind champions Bristol City – managed by one-time Burnley boss, and former Whalley resident – Steve Cotterill.
Garner’s highlights this season include a hat-trick against Fleetwood Town and four goals against Crewe Alexandra in March.
Preston Chief Executive John Kay, who collected the award on behalf of Garner, said: “Joe is very important.
“He had to work hard when he joined the club and he established himself and started scoring goals.
“As he scored goals, we started getting results, so he was key. He is a tallisman. When he was back fit you could tell there was a rise in the dressing room, in the lads and their confidence.”