John Welsh was as shocked as he was delighted to be named the League One North West Footballer of the Year on Monday night.
The midfielder received the accolade at the star studded awards ceremony in Manchester, fighting of competition from Jose Baxter and Luke Murphy to claim the prize – an award which was won last year by teammate David Buchanan.
Speaking to the press following the prize giving, Welsh said: “I am delighted, a bit shocked really, I didn’t expect it, but I am delighted and over the moon.
“It has been a great night and it has capped it off by winning this.
“The lads that have been nominated tonight are wonderful players, I have played with Jose Baxter and I have played against Luke Murphy and they are both really talented players, so to be named with them would have been enough for me, but to win it was a bit unexpected and I am delighted.
“Personally for me, last season was a good season, it would have been a bit better if we had got promotion and been part of a promotion winning team but it wasn’t to be, but on a personal note I am delighted to get the awards that I got last year and obviously the one tonight.
“I am loving it at the minute, it is a fabulous Club, a great Club, it’s a well supported Club.
“I enjoy going in every day to work with the lads and the staff, I enjoy going to the ground and meeting the fans and meeting the staff that work at the ground and I am enjoying my football at the minute.
“Give me a ten year deal and I will sign it!
“It is one of them, I am loving it at the minute, everything is going well.
“Obviously we want to be a bit higher in the table and hopefully in the next couple of weeks we can do that.
“Even before I signed I knew how big Preston was and as soon as I heard Preston wanted to sign me, I didn’t want to wait.
“I was up the next day to meet everyone and a week later it was a done deal.
“There was no other team I wanted to speak to; Preston was the team for me.
“I knew how big the football Club was, just walking around the ground, it is an amazing place and once you sign you get to meet the fans and realise the passion that they have and they want the Club to do well.
“It is a Club that is geared for the Premiership.
“When you look around the stadium and the facilities and the fan base, it is definitely geared for a higher league and that was always my ambition when I signed here and hopefully this season I can fulfil it.”
After a positive start to this season’s League One campaign, Welsh believes that big things could be ahead for the Lilywhites – a Club which he believes is heading in the right direction.
“I definitely feel like I am ready to play in the league above with Preston,” continued the PNE No.19.
“That was my ambition when I signed for Preston.
“That wasn’t to be, so we have moved on to this year and we have got a manager in Simon Grayson who has been there and done that so we are all pulling in the right direction.
“We are taking it game by game and the overall goal is to win promotion and we have started well, so we are on the right track and hopefully that will continue.”
After sweeping the boards at the North End player of the year awards in the summer, this is the latest in a long line of trophies that are currently within the Welsh household, not that John is responsible for any of them according to his son…
“My little lad will be made up with the trophy,” added Welsh.
“He claims they are all his, so he will be claiming this one as well, so I am looking forward to going home and showing him and he will be made up when he sees it so I can’t wait to see that.”