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Arbroath in 2021/22: Top 3 stars from incredible Championship season

Courier Sport takes a look at the top performers key to Arbroath's incredible season.
Courier Sport takes a look at the top performers key to Arbroath's incredible season.

Although they are the only part-time team in the Championship, Dick Campbell’s Arbroath were the envy of many managers in the division.

Week-in, week-out individual players put in performances that would earn them a place in ANY of their full-time rivals’ starting XIs.

While the whole team’s effort is deserving of recognition, Courier Sport has picked out the three best performers in Arbroath’s unforgettable season.

3. Derek Gaston

Arbroath ended the campaign joint top of the clean sheet table. Play-offs included, the Lichties kept 20 clean sheets in 38 Championship games.

While the rock-solid back line can take many plaudits, keeper Derek Gaston was the last line of defence.

Arbroath goalkeeper Derek Gaston recently signed a new deal with the club.
Arbroath goalkeeper Derek Gaston recently signed a new deal with the club.

The modest 36-year-old recently said: “That’s why I’m there,” after a couple of game-saving stops against Inverness in the first leg of their play-off.

All season ‘Gats’ has been there when called upon.

At Rugby Park in November he pulled off save after save, keeping the score at 0-0 until Arbroath won it late on.

Derek Gaston gets down to deny Oli Shaw of Kilmarnock in April.
Derek Gaston gets down to deny Oli Shaw of Kilmarnock in April.

At the same venue in April, although it wasn’t to be on the night, he pulled off top drawer saves denying the Ayrshire side until late on.

The Lichties faithful will know they are in safe hands with Gaston committing himself to the club for another two years.

2. Tam O’Brien

Arbroath skipper Tam O’Brien is one of, if not the, best defenders in the Championship.

Named in the team of the year, the 30-year-old only missed out on a player of the year nomination due to a voting error.

Tam O'Brien frequently put his body on the line for Arbroath.
Tam O’Brien frequently put his body on the line for Arbroath.

With centre-half partner Ricky Little, Arbroath have a formidable pairing at the back.

Not only did O’Brien help keep 20 shutouts, he also did his part to ensure the Lichties conceded just 28 goals all season.

The big Fifer’s ability to read the game, win tackles and clear danger was key to his side’s success.

As a midfielder earlier in his career, O’Brien isn’t scared to take the ball down and run with it, if required.

He also enjoyed a shot, on occasion, with his stunning strike against St Johnstone early in the season the pick of his four goals.

1. Michael McKenna

Named SPFL and PFA Player of the Year, Michael McKenna was the top performer in the entire Championship – not just for Arbroath.

The self-employed electrician sparked the Lichties campaign into life early on with seven goals in as many games.

His hot-streak would come to an end in mid-November but he continued to make priceless contributions.

The 31-year-old started the season playing off the front but later found himself in a deeper midfield role.

He did still add to his tally, being crowned top goalscorer in the Championship with 15. A late header in the 3-0 win over Morton put him ahead of Kilmarnock’s Oli Shaw.

McKenna was able to influence games with his never-say-die attitude and his ability from set pieces.

Michael McKenna has been nominated for PFA Championship player of the year.
Michael McKenna finished the season at the league’s top scorer.

Arbroath will be able to benefit from his work-rate for the next two seasons after he penned a new deal in December.

Notable mentions go to the ever-present Ricky Little, young defensive midfielder Chris Hamilton and Joel Nouble for the impact he made in his short spell.

5 key moments from stunning Arbroath season, including Rugby Park rollercoaster, December turning point and Scott Allan signing that never was

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