Sports Awards: Walters and Loft pick up prestigious Sir Stan Matthews award
STOKE City forward Jonathan Walters and Port Vale's Doug Loft were named as winners of the Sir Stanley Matthews Potteries Footballers of the Year award last night.
Ireland international Walters held off competition from captain Ryan Shawcross and last year's winner Robert Huth to claim the honour for the Potters.
Loft received the award for the Valiants after turning out consistent performances at left-back, right-back and across the midfield.
The pair were presented with their awards by Sir Stan's daughter, Jean Gough.
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BBC Radio Stoke broadcaster Nigel Johnson, who is chairman of the Sir Stanley Matthews Foundation, said: "Jon is totally professional, someone who has worked extremely hard for Stoke City.
"He always shows the right attitude and approach and in all my years covering Stoke there have been very few players who come close to matching his level of energy. He is perpetual motion.
"Doug has made a valuable contribution to Port Vale, especially in these difficult times.
"The Foundation is particularly appreciative of his efforts in all his positions. He is a great example to his team-mates."
Centre-half Huth and Vale right-back Adam Yates shared the award last year, while Huth's defensive partner Shawcross and Vale skipper Marc Richards were winners in 2010.
Stoke midfielder Rory Delap was the sole recipient of the inaugural prize in 2009.
The honour has been split to ensure the most impressive players from both of the city's professional clubs are always recognised.
Walters, who grew up on the Wirral, was originally on the books of Blackburn Rovers, but left for Bolton Wanderers in 2001 without having played a senior game.
He moved to Hull City before playing under Stoke legend Denis Smith at Wrexham, then switching to rivals Chester City, where fine form earned a £150,000 switch to Ipswich.
The 28-year-old arrived at the Britannia Stadium in August 2010 for £2.75m and his displays came to the fore as the Potters clinched a place in the FA Cup final.
He has continued to impress this season, forging a partnership with Peter Crouch which has fired Stoke to the last 32 of the Europa League and an FA Cup quarter-final.
Loft, an England Schoolboy international, started out as in non-league with Hastings United and won a move to Brighton and Hove Albion in 2006.
The 25-year-old moved to Vale three years later and has become a vital cog in the wheel for Micky Adams, who also managed him at Brighton.
He has been utilised in almost every position at Vale Park and still managed to bag nine goals in 105 appearances.
The Sentinel's Stoke City reporters Michael Baggaley and Martin Spinks, Vale writer Steve Shaw and Radio Stoke's Matt Sandoz joined Johnson on the judging panel.
Johnson added: "It is a most prestigious award named in honour of one of the finest footballers the world has ever seen. I am sure the players will feel honoured."
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