Big award for Mac

The saying in sport goes that there is no better recognition than that received from your team-mates.

That was certainly the case for George McCartney, who capped a superb first season back at West Ham United by scooping the 2011/12 Players' Player of the Year award, sponsored by England Environmental Services and Southern Asbestos Services. He was presented with the trophy by John England and Peter Drayton.

The left-back, who returned to the club last summer on a season-long loan from Sunderland three years after his first spell at the Boleyn Ground ended, was thrilled and honoured to be given the highest accolade by his fellow players.

"I think, to be honest, for me personally I would rather win this award than any other," he told West Ham TV with typically refreshing honesty.

"I know it is probably nice to be a fans' favourite throughout the season and get the confidence from doing well and knowing they are behind you, but the players are there through training every day and through the matches every week.

"It's a great honour for me to win this award. All the lads have been terrific this season and we've put in a lot of hard work so for me to get this award is great for me."

It says much for McCartney's consistency, character and level of performance that he was able to hold off the challenge of the likes of Hammer of the Year Mark Noble and goalkeeper Robert Green to win the award.

After returning to east London on 10 August, McCartney regained full match-fitness before returning to the starting XI later the same month, the No3 chalked up 39 of a possible 43 npower Championship appearances to help the Hammers reach the Play-Offs. There, he appeared as a substitute in both semi-final leg victories over Cardiff City.

The fact the defender has won the ultimate respect of his team-mates despite only being at the club on loan says everything.

The player himself admitted that, looking back, he should perhaps never have left West Ham in 2008.

"I have been here before and I love the club and it was probably the biggest mistake I have made leaving. Everything is great with hindsight and looking back it is probably something I shouldn't have done.

"I had the opportunity to come back at the start of the season and I'm grateful to the manager for giving me the chance. Thankfully, things have gone really well and I've played nearly every game since I've been here.

"To get this award from the players while only being here on loan, I'm grateful and it's a great individual award to have."

McCartney said the fact he has enjoyed this season so much had made it easier for him to settle back in and play his best football.

"I think if you asked any player no matter what club they are at, you need to be enjoying your football. I've been playing every week, playing well and enjoying life, not just on the ground but outside of football.

"When I look back at the last couple of years before this one, I haven't done that and my career started to slip away.

"Sam Allardyce gave me the chance to resurrect myself. Playing every week, I've enjoyed every single minute I've been on the pitch.

"At the training ground, I couldn't have a single bad word to say about any of the lads. Team spirit is great and it's been good to be a part of.

"I knew this was probably the last opportunity that I would get to show people what I could do and I've taken that opportunity with both hands and hopefully proved a few doubters wrong and shown them that I can still play at the highest level."