2003 Newcomer Of The Year: The winner is...

Last updated : 15 January 2004 By Site Staff

After Steve Jones won CreweAlex.com player of the year it was time to vote for your ‘newcomer’ of the year, 2003. Billy Jones, Justin Cochrane and Luke Varney were up for the award.

After 100 votes and with just a 13 vote margain, the winner is…….

1st - Justin Cochrane

Justin arrived on trial from Hayes in May 2003, after Cochrane was released by QPR in 2001 after just a 20 minute appearance. After being on trial for a few months and playing a few reserve games Cochrane was finally offered a three year contract with Crewe after Hayes and Crewe agreed a £50,000 fee for the 21 year old.

The signing was meant to go through the day after the Shaun Smith and Steve Macauley testimonial games at home to Everton, but when Dario heard from a scout that Chelsea and big spending Roman Abramovich wanted to speak to Justin Cochrane Dario pulled Cochrane out of the squad to face Liverpool, the first of the two testimonial matches, before rushing a contract through and signing Justin up for 3 years.

Justin got Crewe fans on the edge of their seats from the start of his career. A CreweAlex.com report on his debut vs. Everton involved…

The new lad really impressed me tonight; he was a breath of fresh air and linked up with the rest of the team so well. He seemed to be everywhere in midfield ad did not miss a thing. He was combative, strong and determined. I know this is only a pre-season friendly, but he is definitely one to watch.”

“Cochrane and Clayton Ince were replaced by Matt Platt and Stuart Tomlinson respectively with only five minutes to go, and it was hard to tell who got the biggest ovation, 21-year old Cochrane or Alex veteran Steve Macauley who came on for Moses a minute later.

Cochrane was to start the season with the same sort of spark. Despite the disappointing 3-1 defeat at Wimbledon in the first game of the season Cochrane still won the CreweAlex.com Man Of The Match in 30° C + conditions. Cochrane won his place in the side, alongside Brammer and Lunt.

He continued to huff and puff for lost causes. Giving everything to the cause, you’ll find it hard to find a Alex fan who doesn’t rate the Hackney born midfielder. Cochrane continued to improve every game, notably his passing has improved 200% & opposition fans continue to praise Cochrane match after match.

Cochrane played every Alex match, he was here for, in 2003 and only missed his first match through 5 yellows. Cochrane has today signed a new 2 year contract to keep him at Crewe till 2006. The 21 has proved to be one of the Alex big bargains.

2nd - Billy Jones

Sixteen year old Billy Jones broke into the side at 16, making his first league appearance for the last 2 minutes of the 3-0 win at home to Derby in October 2003. With injuries casting a dark shadow over Crewe towards the end of 2003 Billy got his first few starts in midfield. The youngster has since, in his 10 appearances, exceeded all expectations. His no nonsense approach combined with his perfect tackling makes him unbeatable where ever he plays. He can actually play anywhere in midfield and defence, occupying the central midfield and right back roles already this season.

The captain of the England U-17s missed out on the award by 13 votes.

3rd - Luke Varney

Varney was another non-league signing in 2003. Varney signed for a nominal fee from Quorn FC in July 2003. Varney also got his first team chance through injuries and impressing in reserve matches. The winger-come-striker started his Alex career by getting a shoulder injury out of the way with an operation. After being a key player in the Alex’s rise up the Division 1 table towards the end of 2003, scoring 1 goal away at Palace, he unfortunately suffered a occurrence of the shoulder injury at the start of 2004 and faces 3 months out.

Early signs promise him to be a key player in years to come.