Alex Pike revealed he was left humbled to be part of the region’s sporting family after picking up The News Sports Awards coach of the year accolade.
The Gosport Borough manager landed the prize at the prestigious ceremony but was late in arriving at the Kings Theatre as he had commitments in overseeing the team’s training session across the harbour.
The club’s first season in Conference South after promotion ended with mid-table stability, while they also enjoyed an appearance at Wembley with a fine run to the FA Trophy final, which saw the club voted as runners-up in the team of the year standings.
Striker Justin Bennett was also recognised in the outstanding contribution category.
Pike did manage to catch the Gosport Ferry in time to arrive midway through the prizegiving and joined the other winners on the evening.
He said: ‘I’m genuinely touched by it.
‘For me, it’s not just about picking up the award, it’s about seeing all of the other sports recognised – the disabled sports, the gymnasts and everyone else.
‘We are all part of the sports community in our area and it’s a big sporting family. I feel lucky to be a part of it.
‘You see your ugly mug on the screen, people are clapping and you realise that people appreciate your efforts even though it is something that you love doing.
‘It’s very humbling and that’s why I am so grateful to accept the award.
‘A few things needed to be addressed at training, so that’s why I was late.
‘To win an award like this, you’ve got to be dedicated to what you do so apologies I wasn’t there to collect the award myself.’
Pike uses an assortment of coaches in his backroom staff, but assistant boss Mick Catlin has been a vital right-hand man.
‘Myself and Cats have worked well together for many years and the job would be very much harder without people like him around,’ he said.
‘But there are plenty of people who play their part and devote their time to the football club.
‘It’s a big Borough family and it’s great for the whole club to get recognition.’
Pike also admitted he had been surprised by his club’s progress, having led the Privett Park side to three promotions since taking over during their days in the Wessex League premier division.
He added: ‘Since I came to Gosport, I have been allowed to grow with the football club.
‘When I took over I was a Wessex League manager, and if you’d told me that in 10 years I would be in the Conference South, have taken the team to Wembley and led them into the FA Cup first round, I wouldn’t have believed it.
‘The club have shown great faith in me and I think I have managed to reward them with a bit of success as well.’
Victory Athletics coach Suzy Walker picked up the runners-up prize for her work with the Couch to 5k course, designed to get people involved with running.
She said: ‘It’s a bit surreal really – I didn’t expect this at all.
‘Doing the Couch to 5k was brilliant last year. I am really passionate about what I do – I love it.’