On just three occasions did Josh Laurent play in front of our fans in this strange season. His first year as a Royal – and his first year playing in the Sky Bet Championship – was almost exclusively watched online and on TV…
… but one thing was clear: fans have been united in their appreciation of what the midfield maestro brought to the table. He picked up the Player of the Season award ahead of the final fixture – and gave his reflections on a terrific first campaign in the hoops.
“It’s a proud moment for me, and my family,” Josh said. “I’d just like to thank the fans who voted for me, but also the coaching staff and my teammates who have helped me a lot to settle in this season. And not only to settle in, but to develop me as a person and a player. So I’m very grateful and I appreciate the club a lot.
“It would have been nice to have had the fans in when I received it, but hopefully when they come in next season, the whole team will get a good reception.
“When fans are in the stadium, you do feel it. When you see them around the club and the stadium, you get a bit more of a connection. But I’ve felt it anyway. So I appreciate the support I’ve had from the fans.
“Our fans have been really good to me, and good to the team this year. And we’ve deserved a bit of appreciation because we have done well – we finished short of our goals but we have been brilliant all round.
“The gaffer has a lot of faith in me, and trust. And I trust in him. So I’m thankful to everyone involved. And for them to give me the captain’s armband for the day was a special thing, and it meant a lot.
“It’s hard to take it in when you’re playing, because you’ve got a goal and your mind goes way from it because you’re thinking about winning every week with the boys and reaching goals together. Now it’s finished, I can look back and appreciate it a bit more.
“It’s the highest level I’ve played… I was hoping for a bit higher! But the goal remains the same for everyone, personally and as a team. It’s been a great season and I’m very thankful.”
Indeed, we pushed our hardest to try to earn the ultimate prize. But everyone in the squad a year older and wiser, we’re in a good place to go into the summer feeling positive.
“The goal remains the same,” he continued. “We didn’t reach it this season, but it remains the same for next season. As soon as we come back, we’ll be pushing to reach that goal.
“Everyone has learned this year. We’ve got a young group – one of the youngest squads in the league. And we don’t have a massive squad either, so it’s a tight group.
“We have a bit of inexperience, and we fell short because we blew up a bit towards the end. But we’ll all take a lot away from it, the gaffer and the staff included.
“We know where we want to be. I’m sure next season we can go one better.”