Andy Spence says Angharad James’ “consistency and impact on and off the pitch” helped her land the Everton Ladies’ Player of the Season prize at The Dixies.
The Wales international midfielder collected her award from the Blue Girls Head Coach alongside first-team stars Idrissa Gana Gueye and Oumar Niasse at the Philharmonic Hall on Tuesday night.
James signed with the Toffees in the summer and has become a crucial component of the side as they compete back in WSL 1.
The 23-year-old has made 18 appearances to date – just two shy of Courtney Sweetman-Kirk who leads the way on 20 – and Spence has been impressed with the qualities his summer signing has brought to the Club.
“Initially after signing, she didn’t get into the team because of a couple of niggling injuries but once she was in the starting XI she stayed there,” he said. “She has brought a real maturity to a young side even though she is fairly young herself.
“When you are looking for a Player of the Season, you are looking for those who have consistency to their performances, someone who has an impact on and of the pitch and we felt Haz (James) has shown both of those aspects.
“For her to come here and perform like she has done is brilliant and, on top of her consistency, she has improved others – always the mark of a good player – and developed her own game.
“She is someone who I only see getting better and that is important. She wants to be challenged and I sat down with her on Wednesday and told her I want her to be better next season. She has a lot of the qualities to help her go on and become one of the top midfielders in the league. It will be exciting to see her do that at Everton.”
James will turn 24 in June but already brings plenty of experience to a young Everton side. She has played in Europe and in an FA Women’s Cup final while with Bristol and it is that know-how that makes her a key figure within the Blue Girls’ ranks.
Spence has been impressed with how she has shared that experience with her young teammates.
“Haz is a senior Welsh international, has played in the Champions League and come close to winning the WSL 1 title with Bristol, and started her career at Arsenal,” he added. “She has been in so many good places so we knew we were signing someone with pedigree last summer. I always thought she was a good player when she came up against us and it was important for us that we got that kind of player in prior to this season.
“Haz has taken on the responsibility of being an experienced player - quietly at first, having come into a new group. But she is sure of herself and her ability.
“As the season has gone on, she has taken on leadership qualities and you could see that against Liverpool – when we conceded, it was Haz that initiated the huddle and spoke to the group.
“To take that responsibility on when normally you would be disappointed just shows what she is about. She has looked at it, recognised that she has a lot of experience and set about sharing that with the group.”