MELBOURNE Victory's Costa Rican playmaker Carlos Hernandez capped off a wonderful season by taking out the Johnny Warren Medal at the A-League Awards at The Ivy in Sydney.
To see scenes from the red carpet and the winners...
The award, voted on by his peers, looked to be in Hernandez's keeping from the outset with the midfielder polling 673 votes to finish ahead of Gold Coast United striker Shane Smeltz (431) and pre-count favourite Wellington Phoenix import Paul Ifill (311).
"I am very happy. I want to thank my family, the fans and the club, this is a big prize for me," Hernandez said through an interpreter.
"It was very hard at the beginning because the footballs style is different but I have been training very hard and am a lot stronger."
The win was especially satisfying for both club and player following the protracted transfer saga of last April when Victory negotiated a permanent move for Hernandez following a two-year loan stint from LD Alajuelense.
"They (Victory) paid a big transfer fee for me but I am working hard every day to repay the club," he said. "But the most important things is I am able to use my skills combining with a new style of football."
Victory had further reasons to smile when coach Ernie Merrick picked up the award for Hyundai A-League Coach of the Year for the second time while striker Archie Thompson also claimed the Goal of the Year for his Round 16 effort at Etihad Stadium.
The trifecta of awards for Melbourne went some way towards softening the blow of losing out to arch-rival Sydney FC in the race for the Premiers Plate following a bitterly disappointing 2-0 loss at the Sydney Football Stadium on Sunday.
Victory, now suddenly out of form and with a mounting injury list, will face Sydney at Etihad Stadium on Thursday night to kick-off what should be an intriguing finals series.
"I am disappointed we lost to Sydney (on Sunday) but we still have a chance to get something from the season," Hernandez said.
In other awards, Brisbane Roar's speedy winger Tommy Oar won the Young Player of the Year gong in a unanimous vote following his impressive performances in the 2009/10 season that resulted in Socceroo honours.
"Looking back at the start of the season I didn't know what to expect," Oar said. "My aim was to break through to the starting XI and then go out on the field and express myself.
"I'm happy to get recognition for that. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself.I'll just keep working hard and take things as they come."
Shane Smeltz picked up the Golden Boot award as the Hyundai A-League's top goalscorer for the second year in a row with 19 goals, seven clear of his closest rivals.
"It's nice to finish with 19 goals. It's something I didn't really expect going into the season," the Kiwi-born sharpshooter said.
"You can never really put a number on the amount of goals you're going to score but I am really please I could take this out."
Also for the second successive season, Adelaide United's Eugene Galekovic took out the Goalkeeper of the Year award seeing off stiff competition from Central Coast Mariner's custodian Danny Vukovic and Clint Bolton from Sydney FC.
Fresh from the famous victory on the weekend, Sydney FC took out the Fair Play award for accruing the least number of yellow and red cards and Strebre Delovski was named the Zurich Referee of the Year.