FOR more than 50 years, Swindon Advertiser readers have been voting for Town’s player of the year and this season, in one of the closest races for many a campaign, hot-shot Nicky Ajose has walked away with the title.

The historic award has been running since 1964, when defender Ken McPherson became its inaugural winner.

Ajose, who has bagged 23 goals in 39 appearances this season, pipped strike-partner Jonathan Obika to the long-running honour, voted for by Adver readers, by just a handful of votes to clinch the coveted prize.

Ajose garnered 39 per cent of the votes cast in the Advertiser poll, just ahead of Obika, who took 38 per cent.

On-loan midfielder Michael Doughty, who has impressed during his loan spell from Queens Park Rangers, was a distant third with seven per cent, with the poll conducted in the Advertiser and via email voting.

Ajose succeeds defender Jordan Turnbull, who won the accolade last season and subsequently returned to Wiltshire for a further loan spell from Premier League Southampton.

Former Manchester United youth player Ajose, 24, rejoined Town in September of last year after having his contract at Championship side Leeds United terminated, his goals ultimately proving crucial in helping the County Ground club stave off the threat of relegation from League One.

Ajose scored six goals in 16 games in a prior loan spell with Town in 2013-14 but since his return, has struck up a potent understanding with former Tottenham Hotspur man Obika.

Obika, who signed a two-year deal with Town in September 2014, has scored 12 goals in 34 games this season.

Ajose will now have his name on the trophy alongside Don Rogers and two-time winner and current skipper Nathan Thompson.

Swindon Town have rejected a request by the Swindon Advertiser to present Ajose with his award in person, or speak to the striker about his award win, as they did with Turnbull 12 months earlier.

A spokesman for the club said: “The club won’t sanction a trophy presentation to the winner.”