Jamie Vardy voted FWA Footballer of the Year 2016

Leicester forward Jamie Vardy is the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year 2016.

The England international collected 36% of members’ votes, making him a clear winner ahead of Foxes’ team-mates Riyad Mahrez and N’Golo Kante.

The 29-year-old has scored 24 goals for club and country so far this season, which have helped to put Leicester on the verge of winning the Barclays Premier League title.

In what was the largest vote of FWA members in the last five years, a total of seven Leicester players received nominations – including captain Wes Morgan, midfielder Danny Drinkwater, goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and full-back Danny Simpson.

Vardy becomes the first Leicester player to win the prestigious accolade, which has been running since 1948, and the first Englishman to be voted FWA Footballer of the Year since Scott Parker in 2011.

Former Foxes’ striker Gary Lineker, who was Footballer of the Year in both 1986 with Everton and 1992 at Tottenham, will pay tribute to Vardy at a gala dinner to be held at the Landmark London Hotel on May 12.

FWA chairman Andy Dunn, of the Sunday Mirror, said: “It is testament to their all-round excellence that so many Leicester players polled votes from our members. The Jamie Vardy story, though, clearly captured the imagination of so many writers.

“His record-breaking feat of scoring in 11 consecutive matches is the jewel in what will surely be Leicester City’s Premier League crown.

“And the Footballer of the Year award is not just a reflection of his fantastic season, but recognition of a remarkable journey from non-League to the international stage.”

Vardy was honoured to become the latest recipient of the FWA Footballer of the Year award.

“It’s a great honour to win such a prestigious award and to have my name added to a list of previous winners that includes some unbelievable players. Thank you to the Football Writers’ Association and to everyone that voted,” Vardy said.

“Thank you also to my team-mates, who are the reason I’ve been able to achieve anything.

“It’s been an amazing season for all of us at Leicester, based on the team-work not individuals, which you can see in the voting. Thanks also to the manager, all the staff and the fans for their support.

“We’re all totally focused on getting over the line in the final two weeks of the season and turning a great season into one we’ll never forget. Hopefully I can contribute to that and, if selected, carry some good form into the Euros this summer.”

Other players to receive votes from FWA members were Tottenham striker Harry Kane, West Ham playmaker Dimitri Payet, Manchester City duo Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne as well as Spurs midfielder Dele Alli.

Photography courtesy of Action Images

FWA Northern Managers Awards Dinner 2015

The 2015 FWA Northern Managers Awards Dinner will take place at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel in Manchester on Sunday December 6.

This year’s award winners are SIMON GRAYSON (Preston North End) and DAVE FLITCROFT (Bury). Special award winners: GRAHAM FENTON (North Shields) and BILLY HEATH (North Ferriby United), with Guest of honour: SAM ALLARDYCE also set to attend.

Tickets for the event can now be ordered from any of committee members Paul Hetherington, Richard Bott or Steve Bates.

Pr Shoot - Barclays PR Shoot 20/10/2013 - Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel, Manchester - 20/10/13 FWA Northern Managers Awards Dinner 2013 - Roberto Martinez Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Craig Brough EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

The price is £65 for members, £70 for non-members and guests, with tables of 10 or 11 available as well as smaller groups or for individuals.

There is also a discounted room rate at the Radisson of £115, including breakfast, for bookings direct at the hotel reservations, quoting the FWA Dinner on December 6.

Ken Gorman

The Football Writers’ Association is sad to report the passing of former member Ken Gorman, who died in Cardiff on Sunday night.

Ken, who was 72, worked for many titles covering boxing as well as football.

He spent several years with the News of the World and Daily Star and was working up to his death as a freelance, primarily for the Sunday Mirror.

The FWA would like to send its condolences to Ken’s family.

Oliver Holt Q&A

Oliver Holt the Mail on Sunday’s new Chief Sports Writer gives a Q&A on Jose Mourinho, Mario Balotelli and whether Lionel Messi is better than Cristiano Ronaldo.

oliholtReproduced courtesy of @MailOnline

Oliver Holt joins the Mail On Sunday

Oliver Holt Q&A for @MailOnline

Q. What do you think of Jose Mourinho? Mo, north London

I admire him greatly as a manager. I’m not sure what I think of him as a man because I’m not sure he ever shows his true face. He’s an accomplished actor as well as an accomplished manager.

I find it hard to see how you can’t admire him as a manager, though. He is one of the most successful bosses there has ever been. He has won the Champions League with two teams who were underdogs without the financial might of their opponents and he provokes great loyalty among his players. It’s hard not to admire that.
Jose Mourinho gestures to fans after Chelsea’s victory over Aston Villa

Q. Ronaldo or Messi – and don’t sit on the fence, we all know they are both great. Alejandro, Valencia

Until recently, I would have said Messi fairly confidently but I’ve begun to change my mind.

I like Messi’s unassuming style more and he is a wonderful, beguiling player to watch. But Ronaldo is such an amazing all-round player, powerful in the air, lightning quick, great with the dead-ball, a fantastic dribbler.

It is hard to separate them because they are so different but if I had to say now who was more valuable to a team, I’d say Ronaldo.

Q. Who is the best goalscorer you have seen play? Charlie, Bristol

Ronaldo, the Brazilian one. I sometimes feel that we have forgotten too quickly how mesmerizingly brilliant he was. He had that combination of speed, trickery and close control that often made him unplayable. It was always a thrill to watch him play.

Mario Balotelli finally broke his Premier League duck (against Tottenham) – what do you make of him as a player and person? And can he be a hit at Liverpool? Gary, Bebington

When Balotelli signed for Liverpool, I thought Brendan Rodgers had got a bargain for £16m, something I’ve been reminded of every now and again on Twitter as he’s struggled to get anywhere near justifying that fee.

I always like to think of the Balotelli who played so brilliantly for Italy at Euro 2012. That showed what he’s capable of. It showed the extent of his talent. But he has been unable to get close to replicating that kind of form ever since and manager after manager has written him off as more trouble than he is worth.

I hope that the winner against Spurs can rescue his career at Anfield because I don’t think there’s anything malicious about him. He just seems like an immature kid who hasn’t quite grown up yet.

He has the talent to be a hit at Liverpool but he needs to buy into Rodgers’ work ethic to have a real chance of making the move a success and so far there has been scant evidence he is prepared to do that.

Q. What is your view on The Open going to Sky? Should the BBC have fought harder? Joe, Haverfordwest

Instinctively, I want The Open, in particular, to be available to the biggest possible audience but the viewing figures on the BBC weren’t great and no one can deny that Sky do a fantastic job with their coverage of golf.

I would like the BBC to devote more time and money to sport in general because I think they usually do a fine job but I suppose that, like many of us, they are in thrall to the fact that everything comes a distant second to football in this country and they have spent most of their budget on retaining the rights to Premier League highlights.

Q. I read that your mum is in Coronation Street. Do you have any stories of your own from the cobbles by the Rovers Return? Did you ever come close to joining the cast? Clare, Plymouth

I was way too shy and self-conscious ever to consider becoming an actor. I used to go in to the Granada Studios with my mum (who has played Emily Bishop since 1961) now and again when I was a kid but it seemed to involve a lot of waiting around for her to do her scenes.

There was one time where I was desperate for her to get away early so we could go and buy tickets for a Manchester City cup match before the ticket office at Maine Road closed. I moaned and moaned about it for so long that even my mum’s patience snapped in the end.

Q. What are you most looking forward to covering in 2015? Jake, Birmingham

The US Masters and the Rugby World Cup. But sometimes the best things are events that are off the radar, jobs that you do on your own in strange places away from the glare.

Sometimes, they can demand more of you and bring you more satisfaction. I went to watch Michael Jordan playing baseball once in Birmingham, Alabama and managed to snatch a very quick conversation with him. Those kinds of pieces are often the most enjoyable and satisfying to write.

Q. Other than football, what are your three favourite sports? Tommy, Prestwich

Boxing, tennis and cricket.

Q. Are you pleased to see boxing returning to mainstream TV, with the Carl Frampton world title fight? Can we expect to see you in Belfast for the event? Ian, Ballyclare

I am pleased that boxing’s back on mainstream TV. I used to love watching it on Sportsnight in the 1970s and it’s great that the Frampton fight is on.

I don’t think I’ll be at the fight this time but I would love to get over to Belfast for a future bout.

Q. What advice do you have for any youngster wanting to become a sports journalist? Rachel, Greenwich

First of all, if you love it, you’ll be good at it. Because if you love it, you’ll want to work hard. And you’ll need to work hard to be successful. So work hard and be persistent. Don’t take no for an answer and try to get on with people. People don’t want to talk to people they don’t like.

Q. Which sporting stars best lived up to their star billing when you’ve met them/interviewed them in person (and who didn’t)? Brad, Tennessee

He didn’t like me very much but the only time I ever interviewed Sir Alex Ferguson one-on-on, back when Manchester United trained at The Cliff, he was fascinating to listen to.

The boxer Bernard Hopkins is probably the most articulate sportsman I’ve ever interviewed. And he can talk and talk and talk.

As for disappointments, I loved Zinedine Zidane as a player but the only time I ever interviewed him, he was sullen and almost monosyllabic. I didn’t particularly hold that against him, though. It was towards the end of a day when he had done about 50 interviews and I think by the time I got to him, he was making it plain he just wanted to be somewhere else.

Q. Have you ever had a major row on Sunday Supplement when the cameras were off? Terry Vaughan

Actually, no. We tend to have most of our major rows on screen, which is probably one of the things that makes the programme good. I have been party to – and maybe even involved in – some spectacular rows on various trips to cover sporting events.

I remember one, in particular, at a restaurant in Las Vegas where two journalists I have always admired tremendously, Jim Lawton and Jeff Powell, were engaged in a verbal battle that left me in awe of their conviction.

Q. What was your first published article in a national newspaper? Michael, Oxford

I joined The Times as their Motor Racing Correspondent in 1993 after working at the Liverpool Echo and Daily Post for three years. The first job I did was to attend the launch of the new Lotus F1 car at Claridge’s in London. Johnny Herbert was driving for them then and I wrote a piece about him. I felt a bit out of my depth at the time. Some might say I still am.

As an addendum, the first trip I did for The Times was to cover the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami. From there, I went to Australia to see Nigel Mansell racing IndyCars on the Gold Coast and from there I went to Brazil to see the second GP of the season. Until then, my idea of a work trip had been going through the Mersey tunnel to cover a game at Prenton Park. I felt like I had hit the jackpot.

Q. Are you allowed to tell us what football team you support? I think I read somewhere that it is Stockport. Brian, Leek

That’s right. I’m a Stockport fan. My dad’s from the Heaton Chapel area of Stockport and he used to take me to Edgeley Park as a kid (we lived a few miles away from the ground). In those days, County played their home games on a Friday night so I would go and watch either City or United at home on Saturday afternoon.

There was a spell when I went home and away with United and I went to plenty of City away games, too. One of the United fanzines called me a Purple once because I’m a mixture of red and blue but Stockport have always been my first team.

Q. If you had a dinner party for six sporting greats – dead or alive – who would be on the guest list and why? Helen, South Shields

Muhammad Ali, because he is one of the greatest sportsman who ever lived, because he had political convictions and because he was not afraid to say what he thought.

Ayrton Senna because there was a mystery about him as well as the fact that he was a sublimely talented driver. I had been lined up to do an interview with him at the Spanish Grand Prix in 1994 but he was killed a few weeks earlier at Imola.

Cathy Freeman, because her gold medal run in Sydney in 2000 is my most vivid Olympic memory and because I admired the way she represented indigenous Australians.

Babe Ruth, because I’ve always been fascinated by his legend.

Bjorn Borg because he was my idol when I was growing up.

Sir Bobby Robson, because I feel like I owe him a lot, I always felt privileged to be in his company and it would be lovely to see him again.

Q. Our first question is from Dave in Nottingham who asks: What do you consider to be the golden ticket in sport, the one event you would choose to attend above all others?

That’s one of the toughest questions to ask a sports writer because there are so many great one-off sporting occasions that are a huge thrill to attend and make you feel incredibly lucky to be doing the job.

I’d put the Indianapolis 500 up there, although it is somewhat reduced now. The Champions League final always feels highly charged and there is always an adrenaline rush about covering a big world title fight. I was lucky enough to be at the Maracana for the World Cup final last year and covering that match in Brazil was as good as it gets for a football fan.

But if I had to plump for one event, I’d say the Wimbledon Men’s Singles Final. I’d choose that because I have always loved tennis and when I was a kid I thought it was an impossible dream that I might one day be able to be on Centre Court to watch the men’s final. It felt like something that was totally out of reach, something inaccessible and exotic that I could never even hope to gain entrance to.

So every time I have been to a men’s final, I have felt incredibly fortunate. I still can’t get past the wonder of being at that event. I’ve got a picture on my wall at home of Andy Murray at the moment he won the final in 2013 and I can pick myself out in the crowd in the background. That was right up there with the most memorable sporting events I have ever seen.

:: Reproduced courtesy of @MailOnline

Drogba honoured by FWA accolade

Chelsea forward Didier Drogba spoke of his pride at joining the list of prestigious winners of the Football Writers’ Association Tribute Award at a gala dinner in London.

The Football Writers Association Award presented to Didier DrogbaThe Ivory Coast forward, 36, was guest of honour at the January 2015 event, and was presented with the long-running accolade from FWA chairman Andy Dunn.

Drogba, who returned to Chelsea for the 2014/2015 season, having left after scoring the penalty which won the 2012 Champions League final against Bayern Munich, admitted it was a humbling experience to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Ryan Giggs, Thierry Henry, Steven Gerrard and David Beckham.

“I am really proud for this award, in the list of previous winners there are a lot of players whom I really respect and grew up trying to reach their level, so for me this is a great honour,” he said.

“When I came to England, things were difficult, there was the language barrier and culture change.

“With time, we managed to learn more from each other and today I am really happy that the football writers not only understand me a lot on the pitch, but have also helped me with my foundation work.”

DrogbaCech England manager Roy Hodgson was among the guests at The Savoy Hotel to hear tributes from current Chelsea team-mate Petr Cech and ex-Arsenal striker Thierry Henry.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, who first signed Drogba from Marseille for £24million in 2004, wrote a personal tribute to the Chelsea striker in the FWA event programme, hailing the forward as the club’s “best-value Chelsea player ever”.

He said: “Throughout my career, I have always refused to say which is my favourite player or the best person, because so many have given soul and blood to play and to fight with me, but if I have to choose one who represents all the good things you want in a player and a man, I think in this moment I would choose Didier.”

DrogbaHenry“I know what he means as a player and as a person. That is why this combination of the player and the person is so amazing, and I can say that he is a phenomenal person.”

FWA chairman Andy Dunn, of the Sunday Mirror, added: “Didier has been one of the most reliable big game players of the modern era.

“I often wonder if Didier Drogba has ever received the credit he deserves for a remarkable career in English, European and world football.

“I am thrilled we have the chance to put that right this evening.”

Read Jose Mourinho’s tribute in full here


Mourinho Tribute To ‘Phenomenal’ Drogba

Chelsea forward Didier Drogba will be the guest of honour at the 2015 Football Writers’ Association Tribute Night at the Savoy Hotel, London.

Here, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho reflects on Drogba the player and the person.

Jose Mourinho Football Writers Association Tribute Dinner

“Didier arrived at Stamford Bridge for £24million, but he is probably the best-value Chelsea player ever, and I remember clearly how it happened.

“I came to Chelsea in the summer of 2004 and in my first written report to Mr Abramovich in relation to my plans for the club, I gave the names of some players.
“Big names were arriving at Chelsea in that period. The previous summer, for example, Claude Makelele came from Real Madrid and Hernan Crespo came from Inter, among others, but Didier was unknown and the price was very, very high.
“Yet I knew as clearly as I have ever done that he was the player I wanted.
“I was very strong to persuade my club to pay such an amount for him and I think we can already say he was the best-value signing for Chelsea in relation to what he has done for the club over so many years, and he is not finished yet.
“My story with him started after I got Marseille in my Champions League group when I was manager of Porto. “Before we played against them, I travelled to Marseille to watch them play Paris Saint Germain and I was amazed with the potential I saw in him.
“When we played against them, I met him in the tunnel before the game and I told him, “I don’t have money to buy you, do you have a cousin like you who is lost in Ivory Coast?”
“That was the first time that the big guy put his arm around me. He told me, “In Porto, you don’t have money to buy me, but if you move to another club where you do have money to buy me, then I will go with you.”
“After the Champions League final with Porto at the end of that season, I moved to Chelsea and immediately began the process to sign him.


“Reflecting on our relationship, I have three moments in my mind that best characterise the man – because Didier the man is just as great as Didier the player.

“The first one was when I met him at Farnborough Airport when he was landing to sign for Chelsea. The way he hugged me, and the way he thanked me was not normal for a player towards a manager, immediately after signing for a new club. Chelsea were changing his life forever in that moment, and he knew that.
“The second moment was after we won the 2007 FA Cup at Wembley against Manchester United. The game finished and I went to the dressing room, leaving the players to enjoy the moment and to celebrate on the pitch.
“I was on the phone with my wife, when suddenly a big monster ran into the dressing room and told me that if I didn’t come with the players, they wouldn’t collect the cup. They would only go up there with me.
“I told him that I wanted the players to go and enjoy the moment together – that I didn’t need to be there – and he said, “We are only one. You can come by your will, or I will carry you there!”
“The third moment was when I left Chelsea in 2007 and I saw the big man crying like a baby.

DrogbaStage“So I can say that he is a phenomenal person, and I have also had the privilege to visit his country and to see what he means, not just to the people of Ivory Coast, but to so many African nations in that region.
“I know what he means as a player and as a person. That is why this combination of the player and the person is so amazing.
“Throughout my career, I have always refused to say which is my favourite player or the best person, because so many have given soul and blood to play and to fight with me, but if I have to choose one who represents all the good things you want in a player and a man, I think in this moment I would choose Didier.”


Cattermole lands FWA North-East award

Sunderland midfielder Lee Cattermole has been voted the North East Football Writers’ Association’s Player of the Year for 2014.
The former Middlesbrough and Wigan player beat his ex-Sunderland team-mate Jack Colback into second place, with Middlesbrough captain Grant Leadbitter third. All three have come through North East Academies.

Middlesbrough’s England Under-21 international defender Ben Gibson has been named NEFWA Young Player of the Year, narrowly beating Boro team-mate Adam Reach, Newcastle defender Paul Dummett and former Hartlepool Luke James.

The North East Football Writers’ Association’s Player of the Year Dinner will be held at The Ramside Hall Hotel, Durham on Sunday November 30.

Former Sunderland captain Cattermole is the 32nd winner of the NEFWA Player of the Year Award, following former Newcastle midfielder Yohan Cabaye, the 2013 winner.

The event at The Ramside Hall Hotel will feature other awards and entertainment from former Carlisle boss Greg Abbott, currently number two to Shaun Derry at Notts County, and stand-up comedian Josh Daniels.

Tickets are available from 0191 375 3080

Newcastle United v Crystal Palace - Barclays Premier League

Pictures: Action Images



The Football Writers’ Association are pleased to confirm Didier Drogba will be honoured at the annual Gala Tribute Evening at The Savoy, London, on January 25, 2015.

Chelsea forward Drogba said: “It is an incredible honour. I have looked at the list of people who have been given this award and there are some of the most famous names in football on it.

“To be invited to join them is so special and I can’t wait for the night.”

Drogba, 36, returned to Chelsea at the start of the Barclays Premier League season following spells in both China and at Galatasaray after leaving Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2012 having scored the winning goal in the penalty shoot-out victory to beat Bayern Munich and win the Champions League.

FWA Chairman Andy Dunn, of the Sunday Mirror, feels Drogba has more than earned the recognition of football writers, not only for an outstanding playing career, but also his incredible humanitarian efforts in raising funds for several projects in his Ivory Coast homeland.

Drogba1“Didier Drogba is not just one of the most accomplished, powerful strikers the Premier League has seen, he has also been a trailblazer for African football, helping to raise its profile immeasurably,” said Dunn.

“And through his charitable foundation, Didier has helped to provide invaluable support to those in need of help in his native Ivory Coast and across the entire continent.

“Last year’s recipient of the FWA’s tribute Jose Mourinho had this to say about Didier when contributing to the striker’s autobiography: ‘Didier is in my life as one of the best players I have managed in my career, but much more importantly, he’s in my life as one of the best and most unforgettable friends. He is a special person.’

“A glowing testament indeed and one which shows why Didier Drogba will be a thoroughly deserving guest of honour on January 25.”


Pictures: Action Images

A Tribute to Andy Porter


Story reproduced courtesy of Tottenham Hotspur FC

Andy Porter’s love affair with Spurs began with the FA Cup Final in 1967. He didn’t look back.

“I was seven at the time and winning that game sparked it all off,” he told the Tottenham Hotspur Opus, published in 2007. “I went to my first match on September 1, 1973, at home to Leeds United, but we lost 3-0.”

At the time, Andy had just completed 25 years without missing a competitive match, home or away, from Arsenal to Zimbru Chisinau. He’d also missed just one home match – Everton in April, 1980 – in 30 years.

It’s a safe bet that record continued until his sad and sudden passing at his home aged 54 on October 21, 2014.

But the games only tell half the story.

Andy served the club with outstanding commitment and enthusiasm since the 1980s in his role as Club Historian. His knowledge was exceptional.

Again writing in the Opus, Andy explained how he became involved at the club. “I first did some work for the club when I helped out Ray Spiller, a Spurs fan who ran the Association of Football Statisticians, with the statistics for the 1982 Centenary book ‘And The Spurs Go Marching On’.

“In 1983 we started to produce a monthly booklet about the club’s history, called The Spurs Historette. For a while in 1984-1985 we merged with the Supporters’ Club magazine, The Spur. Then in 1985 Irving Scholar, the chairman, asked if we wanted to transfer our efforts to the matchday programme, so we did. Ray dropped out in 1986, so it was left to me. I’ve been doing bits ever since.

“One of the most enjoyable aspects is helping people who contact the club wanting details of an ancestor’s playing career. Our information comes from lots of different places, but what we know now, compared with when I started, is incredible.”

It wasn’t all about the first team though. Andy was also a regular at Development Squad, Academy and Spurs Legends matches. He would travel into Europe to follow the Academy squad in tournaments and kept records on every game.

He’d like nothing more than to watch the Under-18s in a morning kick-off at the Training Centre and then make the short trip to the Lane for a first-team matchday.

His friendly face was well-known to fans and players alike.

Chairman, Daniel Levy, said: “Andy’s great passion in life was our Club. We have been unbelievably fortunate to have had Andy with us over the years – he was not only much respected for his amazing encyclopaedic knowledge of the Club and his many contributions, he was also a wonderful man. So quiet and unassuming, he would have been embarrassed by the reaction to his passing and tributes being paid. We have lost one of our Spurs family.”

Tony Galvin, winger of our successful team of the early 1980s, gave this tribute. “This is incredibly sad news, particularly at such a young age. He was a very genuine and kind man. I used to enjoy bumping into him at ex-Spurs games and having a chat. He loved Spurs and put his heart and soul into the club. He was always so polite and showed genuine interest in others. Andy will be greatly missed and he is in our thoughts.”

Legendary defender Paul Miller added: “Andy was a lovely, peaceful man with an unbelievable knowledge of our club and will be sorely missed.”

UEFA Cup winner Micky Hazard said: “It’s such sad news. Andy was a top guy and I’m certain he will be remembered with fondness by all.”

Andy was an important member of our team and we have lost a dear colleague and friend.

John Fennelly, Head of Publications, added: “With each hour that passes since I heard this tragic news, the realisation grows of just how much we will miss Andy.

“I was already here when he joined the team and since then he has been a rock, in his knowledge, his commitment and his friendship. It is an irony, but he always felt that we were doing him a favour; yet in truth it was totally the other way around.

“Andy’s continual willingness to work on into the night to project Tottenham Hotspur in the right light was unsurpassed in my experience. His contribution to the Club for more than 30 years has been little short of immense and will never be forgotten because he has no equal and never will.

“He was all about history and sadly is now very much part of the history of the club he loved.”

We extend our condolences to his family and friends at this sad time.

Silver lining finale to FWA Golf Day at Stoke Park


Images courtesy of Vauxhall, the sponsor of Home Nations football

Neil Silver collected the prestigious Joe Melling Trophy at the Football Writers’ Association’s annual Golf Day at Stoke Park.

Neil, former Press Association senior Sports Reporter who now combines covering matches for The Sun with teaching young journalists at Harlow College, scored an impressive 38 points around the magnificent Buckinghamshire course.

As well as the trophy, donated in memory of the former Mail on Sunday chief football writer, Neil also won a chance to play on Wentworth’s West Course later this year on a golf day held by VPAR, who ran the automatic scoring system.

Ex Sunday Times writer and now Aston Villa head of media Brian Doogan finished second with 36 points ahead of the Birmingham Mail’s Gregg Evans.

Some 76 golfers competed in the Vauxhall sponsored event, including Scotland manager Gordon Strachan and Wales boss Chris Coleman.

Strachan-Golf-225x300A host of other big football names also played, including Scotland assistant manager Mark McGhee, ex-England stars Cyrille Regis, Mark Bright, Luther Blissett and Paul Walsh, as well as Northern Ireland’s record appearance holder Pat Jennings.

Neil’s fourball with Glen Ward, Tony Bloom and Alan Marcelis also won the Vauxhall Trophy for the team competition, held in stableford format, with the best two scores on each hole counting to the prize.

Brian Doogan’s team finished second, with third prize taken by Sun writer Mike McGrath’s team.

Tom Breese, part of the William Hill team, won the Longest Drive prize while freelance Ralph Ellis, who writes for the Sunday Mirror, Daily Mail and Daily Star, claimed the Nearest The Pin title with a hole in one.

Traditionally one of the highlights of the football golfing calendar, the annual FWA Golf Day, returned in 2011 thanks to the support from Vauxhall, the sponsor of Home Nations football.

Ralph Hits The Wrong Hole-In-One

A hole-in-one is usually a cause for celebration in golf, but one of the journalists had mixed emotions when he sunk a rare shot at the FWA Golf Day.

Ralph Ellis, freelance sports writer for the Sunday Mirror, Daily Mail, Daily Star and BetFair columnist, won a Titleist SM5 Vokey sand wedge as the Nearest The Pin champion – but it should have been a Vauxhall Cascada!

All of the golfers were given the chance to win the vehicle on hole 21 and all they had to do is hit a hole-in-one.

However, Ralph missed that shot and landed it on the 11th hole instead.

“When it went in, we all went berserk running around celebrating – Ryder Cup style,” Ralph said.

“The good side of it was that it was the Nearest The Pin competition, though it’s a beautiful car and I would have preferred to do it on that hole.

“The golf club will do and I’ll work on it for next year so that I can score at the right hole.

“It was a unique experience and all part of a very good day that Vauxhall contributed to.”