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Hero: Steve West has won hordes of new admirers this season and stands head and shoulders above everyone else for his commitment, attitude and dedication to the cause

We have been running Man of the Match votes on this website since we played Kettering at home - the second game of the season. 283 votes have been cast so far. More than 115 of these have been for Steve West.

It's hardly surprising that Westy is our first Independent Player of the Month. And even less surprising that when we presented him with a bottle of Moet two weeks ago he was genuinely pleased - and not to mention surprised when I told him that he'd won more votes than anyone else so far.

We don't have the full statistics to hand but we do know that Westy received 115 votes for the games in which he emerged as MOTM. This figure is 41% of the total number of votes cast, but does not include the votes he received when he was not the overall winner. He's already managed to come a close second a couple of times so I would estimate that his total share of the vote could well be close to 50% - not bad for someone who was transfer-listed last season, is it?

Steve West had his critics when he arrived at Kingfield - it was never going to be easy to compete with a cult figure like Darran, for a start - but he stuck to his guns and gave every game his best efforts. He may well have raised one or two eyebrows when he was thrust into the heart of the defence for last season's FA Trophy tie with Folkestone Invicta - but he did a sound job and has since then made the number 4 shirt his own.

Westy has attained a cult status of his own this season. He's worked hard ever since his arrival at Kingfield and is finally reaping the rewards. I love it when players prove their critics wrong (Darryl Flahavan being another example) and Steve West's assured performances at the back have helped him do just that.

At this point I suppose I could - in the words of that fine man Alan Davies - ramble shambolically to a close. Instead, though, I'll leave you with a thought. Last week I was standing by the entrance to the bar when a guy walked in, pointed to the Player of the Season plaque on the wall and said simply "Steve West". I know it's only November but that would hardly be surprising, would it?

Many thanks to the Toby Cottage Restaurant in Ripley for donating the bottle of bubbly, and to Doug for coming up with the idea in the first place.