Dressed in a black dinner jacket and bow tie, Daryl Janmaat was applauded as he took to the stage.
The host was waiting for Janmaat with a microphone.
But he didn’t wait to be congratulated – or asked a question.
Janmaat instead took out a piece of paper, unfolded it and paused for a moment behind the lectern.
Then he spoke. And he spoke well.
The Newcastle United defender was at the Ramside Hall, Durham, on Sunday to collect the North East Football Writers’ player of the year award.
It was a proud moment for Janmaat.
His family was there with him to see him collect a trophy which had previously been won by Newcastle United Alan Shearer, Kevin Keegan, Peter Beardsley and Chris Waddle.
But it was also an awkward moment for the Holland international.
Janmaat had been in the side beaten 5-1 by Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park the previous day.
And before accepting the trophy, he had something to say to a room filled with supporters of all the North East’s clubs.
Janmaat had been the pick of the region’s professional footballers, but he acknowledged 2015 hadn’t been a vintage year for Newcastle.
“It is a strange situation for me to be standing here,” said the 26-year-old, now in his second season at the club.
“I am proud to win this prize, but I am not proud of the poor results of Newcastle in 2015.
I am proud to win this prize, but I am not proud of the poor results. I would like to say a big thank you to the Newcastle supporters for their absolute support this year – they deserve much more than we gave them.Daryl Janmaat
“Personally, I would like to say a big thank you to the Newcastle supporters for their absolute support this year – they deserve much more than we gave them.
“Myself, my team-mates and the staff will do everything we can in 2016 to make it a successful year.”
None of the previous winners had given such an impromptu speech.
It hadn’t been written by the club’s PR department.
It came from the player himself.
And it had a resonance at an event which is meant to celebrate all that is good about North East football, but so often has to reflect on disappointment and failure.
Janmaat, understandably, had mixed emotions.
“I think 2015 was a good year for me personally, but of course I can do better as well and so can the team,” Janmaat told the Gazette.
“The team is not playing well. That is the mixed emotions.”
Newcastle didn’t play well at Selhurst Park against a team which was pacy and purposeful.
United played with neither pace nor purpose, and defensively, Steve McClaren’s side were again found wanting.
It doesn’t get any easier. Next up are Liverpool, a team which has found form under new manager Jurgen Klopp.
“I think we started well with the goal, but what happened the week before (against Leicester City) happened again,” said Janmaat.
“We didn’t play after the first 15 minutes. We have to improve and do much better.
“We have some tough games in December. We have to prepare ourselves and we have to do better.
“We need more character and we need to be mentally stronger.
“We have to learn from the mistakes we make. At the moment we make too many mistakes on the whole pitch. We have to learn from them.”
One accusation labelled at McClaren’s players this season is that they don’t care as much as a fanbase which would have every right to be beyond caring, yet still turns up week in, week out.
In SE25, they chanted “we’re ****, and we’re sick of it”.
But it’s an accusation Janmaat refutes.
“I don’t believe it,” he said. “Everybody cares and everybody wants success. That’s what everybody wants.
“I don’t think that people don’t care. I cannot say there is one player who doesn’t care.”
In response to the team’s performance against Palace, McClaren called his players into training the following morning.
Janmaat had no complaints. There had been a “lot of talking”, but no fighting.
“It was like a normal session,” he said. “Of course, there was a lot of talking with each other, (but) it was not punching training!
“You have to deserve a day off, and we did not deserve one.”
Newcastle are 19th in the Premier League ahead of Sunday’s game against Liverpool, and McClaren conceded at Selhurst Park that the club is now in a “relegation battle”.
“We are second-bottom,” said Janmaat. “At the moment we are in a relegation fight. Everybody has to know that.
“I think we can do it, because I believe in the players. I think we have good players, but we have to show it.”