Chesterfield’s Player of the Year made a bigger contribution than most to the Spireite cause this season but still wishes he could have done more.
Louis Reed was one of very few players to achieve a level of consistency in the disaster that was the 2017/18 campaign.
The Derbyshire Times Readers made him their Player of the Year, as did the Sheffield Star, and had it not been for a protest vote that led to the cancellation of the club’s own award, he would have completed a hat-trick.
Two factors make his achievement so noteworthy – his age and his contractual status.
Reed is a 20-year-old loan player who prior to this season had just shy of 20 Football League starts to his name.
Chesterfield’s relegation from League Two makes it awkward for any player to accept any kind of plaudits because the mood around the club is, as you’d expect, so downbeat.
But for Reed and others at the start of their journeys in the game, they can’t spend the rest of their career feeling sorry for themselves and the Spireites.
Life will go on for the pint-sized midfielder, whether that be at Sheffield United or elsewhere.
And he’s honest enough to admit there is some satisfaction in being named Player of the Year.
“It’s always great to get an award, regardless of how the team has done, on a personal level,” he said.
“I just wish things could have worked out better for the team, especially playing as regularly as I did, I wish I could have helped them out more.
“Myself and the rest of the squad are so disappointed with what’s happened this season.
“I don’t think there’s one specific thing you can point out.
“It’s a mixture of little things that over the course of a season add up, whether it be a mistake from someone, someone not tracking a runner.
“I don’t think we’ve been consistent enough.”
When he arrived at the Complexo Desportivo de Vila Real de Santo António in a Portuguese taxi to join his new team-mates last summer, Reed – like the rest of us – was told he was joining a promotion push.
Instead, he found himself battling at the wrong end of the table in what results would eventually declare as League Two’s worst squad.
While the loan move was engineered to help the Spireites, it was also to give Reed a taste of regular football.
Forty-seven games later he can at least say that goal was achieved.
“It’s been frustrating, but I’ve taken a lot more positives than negatives from it,” he said.
“I came here to play football, get regular gametime and that’s what I’ve done.
“It’s almost kick-started my career again I think.
“Thankfully I’ve not had many injuries, just a just a couple of niggles but nothing serious touch wood.
“ think that’s helped me to be as consistent as I have been.
“I knew I was going to get a lot of game time, that’s what I was brought in for and that’s what Sheffield United wanted me to do.
“But to play all but four of the league games, I didn’t expect that at all.”
It’s just over four years since Reed broke into the senior ranks at Bramall Lane and made his professional debut at the tender age of 16.
He made 60 appearances for the Blades first team as a teenager but it wasn’t until this season, wearing the colours of Chesterfield, that he finally hit the net in a competitive fixture. That first goal, a lovely strike against Colchester, showed Town fans that he had power in his boots.
The second didn’t arrive until January, when he fired a free-kick into Yeovil’s net.
Two more arrived in the next seven games, allowing him to say with some confidence that he has added a goal threat to his repertoire.
“When we were out in Spain I was asked about goalscoring and I played 50-odd games for Sheffield United and hadn’t managed to score.
“To add that to my game was a real positive for me.
“I’ve been practising really hard on set-pieces and free-kicks, so to see that pay off is really good.”
And he feels like he’s grown in other areas, thanks in part to those who have influenced him at the Proact.
His passing ability brought goals for the likes of Kristian Dennis and made Town tick in their best spells of form, and despite his size he wasn’t adverse to putting a foot in.
“With the people I’ve had around me, Ian Evatt as the caretaker manager and as a player, the amount of experience he’s got, Sam Hird, Tommy Lee coming back in, it’s been massive for me.
“The two managers we’ve had have got different styles of play. When Jack Lester was here he wanted to play a lot more than when Gary Caldwell was here. Both styles of play have helped me massively, whether it’s the ugly side of the game, or ranges of passing I can bring to my game.”
Having stayed chatting to Town fans outside the Proact until well after 11pm following the last home fixture of the season, Reed said his final farewell to the club’s fanbase on Saturday, albeit as an unused substitute for the season finale at Barnet.
His attention now turns to next season, with his parent club holding an option to extend his contract by another year. He expects to report back to Bramall Lane this summer but wherever he ends up playing next season, he’ll be keeping a close eye on the Spireites’ progress in the National League.
“I think I’ll be back with Sheffield United for pre-season, I’m sure the management team there will be in touch soon, sorting out what’s going to happen. I’m looking forward to starting next season and seeing where it can take me.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time here this season, despite the circumstances we’re in now.
“I’ll definitely be watching out for them, I’ve met some great lads along the way and I really hope for the best for them in the future.”