Special award at North East FWA Dinner


The friendship between former Sunderland striker, Jermain Defoe, and young cancer patient, Bradley Lowery, touched everyone who saw the pair together.

Bradley, from Blackhall Colliery, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at only 18-months-old and last year his mum, Gemma, shared the devastating news that the cancer was terminal. He passed away in July aged just six.

Jermain’s compassion towards his young friend, and his help raising awareness of neuroblastoma, will be recognised at the North East Football Writers’ Association’s Awards later this month (Sunday 25th February) where he will be named the North East Personality of the Year.

The prestigious award is given in association with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and recognises someone who uses their position in football to benefit the wider community, and a special trophy has been created by Kalki Mansel, a hot glass artist and designer at the National Glass Centre in Sunderland.

Bradley’s Mum, Gemma, was proud to personally add the finishing touches to it by blowing the glass.

Gemma said: “It was fantastic that Jermain became such a friend to Bradley and his continued friendship to us now means a lot.

“He had so much to do with us all in the final weeks of Bradley’s life and he hasn’t just left things there. Jermain is a Patron of the Bradley Lowery Foundation and he wants to be involved because that’s where his heart is.

“This award is something to be grateful for and it’s nice that Jermain is receiving recognition, although he said he doesn’t need that. Everything he has done came from his kindness and the goodness of his heart.

“Sadly, Bradley’s not here to help but I hope I’m the next best thing and I enjoyed helping make the award. I’m sure Jermain will love it.”

Jermain first met Bradley when he was a mascot for Sunderland AFC in 2016 and a very special bond grew between them.

Now a player for Bournemouth, Jermain returned to the North East to spend time with Bradley at his County Durham home just before he died. A week later, he returned again, this time to attend Bradley’s funeral. Jermain wore his England shirt in honour of his young friend.

Lady Elsie says: “This award is very important to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and we can’t think of anyone more appropriate to receive it than Jermain. It’s been absolutely fascinating to see the award being made and a great pleasure to meet Gemma. She’s an extraordinary woman and I admire her positivity and strength during such a difficult time.”

Held annually at Ramside Hall Hotel in Durham, the North East Football Writers’ Association Awards night, sponsored by William Hill, raises funds for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, which helps find more effective ways to detect and treat cancer.

The charity recently made a £1million contribution to fund clinical research and nursing posts at the new Wolfson Childhood Cancer Research Centre at Newcastle University.

Colin Young, secretary of the North East Football Writers’ Association, adds: “Our awards night is a chance to celebrate all that’s good about football in this area. Joining with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation to honour Jermain highlights the positive things football can do.

“Very sadly, Colin Verne-Jones from Durham Trophies, who supplied our awards for many years, died suddenly from cancer within weeks of last year’s event.

“We had to think of a new approach to the trophies for this year and wanted to make them very special and from this region. Commissioning trophies from the National Glass Centre seemed the ideal choice. And Jermain’s is all the more perfect because of Gemma’s input into it. We’re glad that Jermain will have a lasting reminder of his time in the North East with him when he leaves our awards event.”

The North East Football Writers’ Association Awards will be held on Sunday 25th February at Ramside Hall Hotel.  Other recipients of awards include Men’s Players of the Year, Jamaal Lascelles and Matt Ritchie, Young Player of the Year, Jordan Pickford, and Womens’ Player of the Year, Victoria Williams.

There will also be special presentations to Newcastle United manager, Rafa Benitez, and non-league clubs Blyth Spartans, Spennymoor Town and South Shields.

Tickets to the black tie event are available now at £58 per person, which includes a four course meal and entertainment.  Please call Claire Stephen on 0191 375 3080 or email claire.stephen@ramsidehallhotel.co.uk for more information or to book tickets.

Below are pictures of Gemma Lowery, Bradley’s Mum, and one with the glass designer Kalki Mansel alongside Lady Elsie Robson, Colin Young and Gemma Lowery.

For more, please visit: https://bradleyloweryfoundation.com

And also http://sirbobbyrobsonfoundation.org.uk/

Jeremy Wilson scoops prestigious award

Jeremy Wilson rewarded for groundbreaking coverage of dementia in football.

FWA member and Telegraph reporter Jeremy Wilson has won a prestigious honour at Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friendly Awards after spearheading a campaign for research into potential links between playing football and dementia.

The Daily Telegraph’s deputy football correspondent won the National Journalist of the Year Award for a series of hard-hitting stories about former footballers who are living with dementia and their families.

Through a series of interviews and investigative news reports, Jeremy has championed change since reporting how half the surviving outfield 1966 England World Cup-winning team had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or memory loss.

The Telegraph immediately called on the authorities to commission independent research into the prevalence of dementia in football and Jeremy personally met with families of former players, reporting with great care and diligence the different symptoms and the full devastating impact on their lives.

Jeremy’s work culminated in a major breakthrough with the announcement last week of a major study assessing whether footballers are at greater risk of degenerative brain disease, jointly commissioned by the Football Association and Professional Footballers’ Association.

Jeremy said: “I am thrilled. Like many families I have been affected by dementia as both my grandmothers had this condition and therefore it feels extra special and a little bit more personal.

“Above all, I am delighted for the families of the footballers as they have trusted us to tell their stories. They have driven the campaign to get answers from football and I am really pleased their stories are being heard.”

Jeremy was accompanied by Dawn Astle, the daughter of former England international Jeff Astle. Dawn and family have been campaigning on what they call ‘sport’s silent scandal’ since an inquest found that Jeff died in 2002 from head injuries caused by playing football.

Dawn said: “I had to fight back the tears when it was announced that Jeremy had won. He really is a fabulous journalist but he has got a heart of gold as well.

“I feel so lucky that he has got stuck into this issue – and the work that he has done has meant that families in the world of football who are affected by dementia will get answers to their questions on the links between the two.”

Alzheimer’s Society Chief Executive Jeremy Hughes said: “With skill and sensitivity, Jeremy has done the newspaper industry proud by uniting with many retired footballers and their families to tell the moving stories of how dementia has affected them.

“His tenacious journalism prompted other families to tell their stories and was featured across other national media, including the BBC and Sky News, to tackle once and for all the taboo that has forced many people to keep dementia a secret.


“Jeremy has also led a successful Telegraph campaign for new research. It has been followed by our national game’s governing body, the Football Association, and Professional Footballers’ Association funding research into potential links between dementia and playing football.”

Alzheimer’s Society ambassador Angela Rippon hosted the Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friendly Awards 2017 which have been sponsored by British Gas and are now in their fourth year.

“Dementia devastates lives and, by 2021, one million people will be living with dementia across the UK,” added Mr Hughes.

    • Alzheimer’s Society relies on voluntary donations to continue its vital work. You can donate now by calling 0330 333 0804 or visiting alzheimers.org.uk. 

Jeremy Wilson scoops award

FWA Northern Managers Awards dinner

The Northern branch of the FWA staged another very successful awards night in Manchester on Sunday November 26th, with a host of leading managers and football personalities in attendance.

David Wagner made it back from Huddersfield’s game with Manchester City in time for the dinner, and Sean Dyche returned from  Burnley’s defeat by Arsenal to attend, along with award-winning managers Chris Wilder, Phil Parkinson, Gary Bowyer, Gary Mills, Graham Fenton and  Lee Picton.  Nick Cushing and Darren Ferguson also won awards but were unable to attend, as were Jose Mourinho and Rafa Benitez, who sent recorded acceptance speeches.

They were joined by legends Bryan Robson and Dennis Tueart, and many others for an event that raised thousands of pounds for the designated children’s charity, The Seashell Trust.



The Football Writers’ Association is delighted to announce that Pele, arguably the greatest footballer of all, will be joining us at the Savoy Hotel on January 21st to receive this year’s FWA Tribute Award.

Pele, 77, has accepted our invitation to join some of the greatest names in world football as recipients of the FWA Tribute Award, and will be flying in from America to collect it at our annual gala dinner at the Savoy.

His achievements should not need repeating, as a member of three World Cup-winning sides, the scorer of over 1000 goals, and numerous personal accolades during a glittering 15-year career.

Paul McCarthy, the FWA’s executive secretary, said: “Traditionally, we have honoured those who have made an outstanding contribution to the British game but I’m sure you will agree that in a World Cup year and on the 60th anniversary of his first appearance in a World Cup, there can be no more fitting recipient than Pele.”

Tickets are on sale now and FWA members should receive an email with details.

Hugh McIlvanney inducted into Hall of Fame

Hugh McIlvanney, one of the great sportswriters of this or any other generation, has been honoured by the National Football Museum by being inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Hugh, a proud FWA member, became the first football writer to enter the Hall of Fame, which includes some of the greatest names in the history of English football. He was inducted, along with players such as Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, at a gala dinner at the National Football Museum in Manchester on September 21st.

Hugh was unable to attend because of a surgical procedure, but his wife Caroline accepted the award on his behalf from FWA Chairman Paddy Barclay, who said: “In the 1950s and 1960s there were giants all over the world stage. Elvis Presley in music, in politics John F Kennedy and the latter day Winston Churchill. In sport we had Muhammed Ali and Pele, still considered the two greatest sportsmen of all time, and football management’s contribution to this generation of giants was Sir Matt Busby,  It was Sir Matt’s great friend Hugh McIlvanney who was journalism’s contribution. That is the level that he reached, and that is why when the FWA was lucky enough to enter into a partnership with this fantastic institution, our choice as our first journalist to enter the Hall of Fame was an easy one.”

Hugh sent a recorded message of thanks to the event, which was also honouring Bob Wilson, Rachel Yankey, Kelly Smith and Gary Speed among others.  He said:” It is a matter of deep regret to me that the need for some running repairs at the hands of the medical profession is preventing me from being with you tonight.

“I am particularly saddened to find myself denied the chance to convey in person the scale of my appreciation of the honour that comes with being inducted into the National Football Museum’s Hall of Fame. There are two strands to that appreciation; it is of course gratifying to know that enough people associated with the `Hall of Fame took a favourable – or at least tolerant – view of what I have written about the game over the years.

“But far more important than any individual induction is the fact that a basis seems to have been created for the establishment of a journalist category in the Hall of Fame.  Before television ruled football, there was for generations a constantly fraught but mutually beneficial relationship between the sport and the print media, one that was unquestionably vital to the development of the professional game in Britain.

“The influence of newspapers in this, and other, fields may be shrinking fast but is still significant and in any case, the papers’ historical impact on the story of football makes a strong case for recognising in the Hall of Fame the unruly brotherhood of press box scribblers. If I’m seen to be representing them tonight, that makes me very proud.”

You can see a video Paddy’s speech, and Hugh’s acceptance speech, on our YouTuibe channel here: https://youtu.be/zuwultF0z9A

You can find out more about the National Football Museum’s and the Hall of Fame inductions over the years here: http://www.nationalfootballmuseum.com/news/ten-new-stars-added-to-the-hall-of-fame-in-2017

Football Writers to join Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame pic

Football’s greatest writers will be honoured alongside the sport’s finest players, managers and teams, thanks to a new partnership between the National Football Museum and the Football Writers’ Association.

The National Football Museum Hall Of Fame will this year see a new Lifetime Achievement award presented to an outstanding sports journalist, thanks to the FWA. The first recipient of the award will be announced at this year’s National Football Museum Hall Of Fame awards at the museum’s Manchester home on Thursday 21 September 2017.

Paddy Barclay, Chairman of the Football Writers’ Association, said: “We are delighted to play a role in preserving and sharing the history of football thanks to this partnership with the National Football Museum Hall Of Fame.

The first recipient of the award is truly a legend among football writers and it will be an honour to see one of our profession recognised alongside so many greats of the sport.”

National Football Museum Marketing Manager Philippa Duxbury said “We’re delighted to be working with the Football Writers’ Association on our prestigious Hall Of Fame awards.

The ever-evolving role of journalists and writers in how we, as fans, perceive and enjoy football is key to the popularity of the game.

We look forward to honouring the first recipient and working with the FWA in the future.”

The National Football Museum Hall Of Fame started in 2002 as the official celebration of the greatest legends of English football.

The original selection panel included Jimmy Hill, Gordon Taylor and the museum’s vice president Sir Trevor Brooking. Inaugural inductees included Sir Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore, Bill Shankly and pioneering female footballer Lily Parr.

Since then, with the support of The PFA, the awards have gone from strength to strength, with all inductees voting on who joins the Hall Of Fame each year. 123 male and female players, from Tony Adams to Gianfranco Zola, have since been inducted, as well as great managers, iconic teams and, thanks to support from The FA, inspiration figures from the disability game in the Hall’s Football For All category.

This year’s event will see modern-era greats Billy Bonds, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Gary Speed and Bob Wilson honoured. The FA are supporting the induction of Lionesses greats Kelly Smith and Rachel Yankey, and England CP player Alistair Patrick-Heselton. The Hall Of Fame historian panel have also chosen Manchester United’s 1909 FA Cup-winning captain Charlie Roberts for induction.

For more on the National Football Museum, visit this link: http://www.nationalfootballmuseum.com/

Northern Managers’ Awards evening – tickets on sale now

37th Northern Managers Awards Dinner, in conjunction with sponsors William Hill  will be held at the RADISSON BLU EDWARDIAN HOTEL, Free Trade Hall, Peter Street, Manchester M2 5GP . on SUNDAY NOVEMBER 26th 2017

Reception: 6.45pm for 7.30pm Dress Code: Lounge Suit

* TICKETS can be ordered from committee members Paul Hetherington, Dick Bott or Steve Bates, at the same price as last year: £65 FWA Members, £70 Non-members and Guests. Book now for Tables of 10/11, smaller groups or individuals. The discounted room rate at the RADISSON BLU, which is available for a limited time only, is £120 inc. Breakfast & VAT (for SINGLE or TWIN occupancy). Ring 0161 835 9929 and press Option 1 for Reservations and quote 03 12 FWA.

* This year’s award winning managers are: JOSE MOURINHO (Manchester United), RAFA BENITEZ (Newcastle United), DAVID WAGNER (Huddersfield Town), CHRIS WILDER (Sheffield United), PHIL PARKINSON (Bolton Wanderers), DARREN FERGUSON (Doncaster Rovers), GARY BOWYER (Blackpool). Special Award winners: GARY MILLS (York City), GRAHAM FENTON and LEE PICTON (South Shields) , NICK CUSHING (Manchester City Women).

* This year’s designated Children’s Charity is THE SEASHELL TRUST

Menu, wine lists and other details will be forwarded nearer the date.

Richard Bott

(secretary FWA North)


The name of Ivan Sharpe, chairman of the Football Writers’ Association for the first six years of our existence, is not as well known today as it once was, which is all the more reason the FWA takes great pride tonight by bringing it back into the limelight with the inauguration of the Ivan Sharpe Life Membership Award at our 70th anniversary dinner.
Ivan Sharpe’s career in the game spanned almost 60 years as a player and journalist.  He played as an amateur for, among others, Watford, Glossop, Derby County, Leeds City and Leeds United, won 12 England amateur caps and in 1912 won the Second Division title with Derby and a  Gold Medal for Britain at the Stockholm Olympics.
Born in St Albans in 1889, he was working as an apprentice journalist covering sport for the Herts Advertiser and St Albans Times in St Albans when he was signed as an amateur winger for Southern League  Watford in 1907 by player-manager John Goodall, a member of the Preston team that won the Double in 1888-89. In Ivan then, there was a tangible link to the very first season of English League football.
He combined his playing time in Leeds with evening paper journalism and after his playing career ended, he turned to journalism full time, editing the influential pre-war Athletic News,  working for Kemsley Newspapers and the Sunday Chronicle, He edited the pocket bible Football Annual  for more than 30 years as well as writing an influential column in the Wolves programme throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
 He covered the first Wembley FA Cup final in 1923, interviewed Benito Mussolini and according to one old source, “he also had an interview with Adolf Hitler lined up but the Fuehrer chickened out.”
He was clearly a man way ahead of his time too, advocating in the Athletic News in April 1930 the idea of a “goal judge stationed at each goal.” He wrote: “This goal-judge’s duty is to watch all incidents inside the penalty area at his end, and to advise the referee concerning all doubts. The referee, as now, to be supreme.” It only took UEFA 80 years to heed his advice.
The FWA was formed on September 22, 1947 on board a cross-Channel ferry the day after a Belgium-England international with Charles Buchan (News Chronicle), Frank Coles (Daily Telegraph) and Roy Peskett (Daily Mail) asked to draft the rules.  Ivan was appointed the first chairman a month later and held that position for six years before becoming  chairman again in 1959-60 and 1960-61. He was also made Life President, a position he held until 1968 when he died in Southport aged 79.
A fire some years ago destroyed all of our historical records but after painstaking research over the last four years, we are now delighted to include the names of all the chairmen of the FWA for the first time and to honour the life and career of Ivan Sharpe with our Life Membership Award named in his memory.
The first recipients, named at the Footballer of the Year dinner on May 18, are Ray Robertson, founding member of the North-East branch of the FWA, Patrick Collins, one of the finest sportswriters of our age, and Paul McCarthy, former FWA Chairman and current Executive Secretary.
Mike Collett
FWA National Committee

Kante collects FWA Footballer of the Year award

Football Writers Association Player of the Year

N’Golo Kante collected his Footballer of the Year award in the same classy and unfussy manner he displays on the pitch, on a memorable FWA night at the Landmark Hotel, London on May 18.

The Chelsea midfielder won the FWA vote as the season’s outstanding player, beating his team-mate Eden Hazard into second place, while Tottenham’s Dele Alli was third.

Kante was humility personified as he made a gracious acceptance speech praising his team-mates for the rapid rise he has made from lower division French football to winning the Premier League twice in succession.

The former Leicester City midfielder said: “It is special because I couldn’t even say I am the best player, but it’s a great honour. It is not only me. I owe so much to my team-mates because we have achieved so much together this season and we still have the FA Cup final.

“A few years ago I was playing in the French lower divisions. Five years ago I wasn’t even professional, so to receive this kind of award means I am the kind of player I cannot even imagine being here.”

Former Footballer of the Year Pat Jennings was one of the speakers and said that he would love to see Kante at Spurs. “Two Premier League titles, one with Leicester last year, and one with Chelsea this year.  You don’t fancy Tottenham next year do you?” joked the gentle giant.

Graeme Souness admitted he would not have liked to have been playing in the same era as Kante, because the Frenchman was so good.

And Chelsea’s technical director Michael Emenalo joked that he sent flowers to Leicester City after capturing the influential midfielder. “It is ridiculous to think that N’Golo Kante can improve, given the fact that he has improved two fantastic clubs and helped them win titles in the last couple of seasons,” said Emenalo.

“I want to express the great pride that I and the football club have to be able to say that this wonderful player, this wonderful person, is a part of our organisation.”

Patrick Barclay, the FWA’s Chairman, drew comparisons with the great Sir Stanley Matthews, the first winner of the award, as the Association celebrates its 70th anniversary.

“Sir Stan was perhaps the most magnetic of English footballers. People of all club allegiances used to follow Stanley Matthews, and now people of all allegiances gravitate towards you, they admire the way you play the game,” he told Kante.

“That somehow links together these two very different footballers 70 years apart. You bring together the English football community in admiration of the way you play the game. No fan in the country will begrudge you this award.”

N’Golo Kante is Footballer of the Year


N’Golo Kante is the Footballer of the Year 2017, on the 70th Anniversary of the FWA and football’s oldest individual award.

Kante’s Chelsea team-mate Eden Hazard was second with Tottenham’s Dele Alli coming in third.

Between them, Kante and Hazard polled more than 65 per cent of the votes.kante

There was a record spread of 17 different players who received votes, with five of them from Chelsea (Kante, Hazard, David Luiz, Diego Costa and Cesar Azpilicueta)

Kante said: “It is a fantastic honour to win this award. With so many great players in this Chelsea squad and in the Premier League, for the Football Writers’ Association to name me their Footballer of the Year is a very proud moment in my career.”

FWA Chairman Patrick Barclay added: “N’Golo Kante could not be a more deserving winner of English football’s most prestigious individual award.

“In the view of some FWA members, he would have been a worthy recipient last season for his contribution to Leicester’s title success, but the almost unbroken excellent form of Chelsea since he changed clubs has left little room for further debate.

“Considering the competition of Eden Hazard and other players from Chelsea in particular, this is a great achievement.”

Here is the full list of players who received votes this year, in alphabetical order…

Sergio Aguero

Toby Alderweireld

Dele Alli

Cesar Azpilicueta

Diego Costa

Philippe Coutinho

Jermain Defoe

Ben Foster

Eden Hazard

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Harry Kane

N’Golo Kante

Anthony Knockaert

David Luiz

Romelu Lukaku

Alexis Sanchez

Gylfi Sigurdsson

You can see the full list of previous winners, starting with Sir Stanley Matthews,  here: http://footballwriters.co.uk/previous-foty/