FWA Northern Awards dinner

Pep Guardiola led a host of successful managers honoured by the Northern branch of the FWA at the annual awards dinner in Manchester on Sunday November 4.

Guardiola was honoured after winning the Premier League title with Manchester City, and he was joined at the top table be fellow winners Tony Mowbray of Blackburn Rovers, Micky Mellon of Tranmere, Rotherham’s Paul Warne, John Coleman of Accrington Stanley and John Askey for his success with Macclesfield Town. Paul Cook of Wigan was unable to attend for personal reasons, but his assistant Liam Robinson accepted the award in his place.

Guardiola thanked the football writers for making him feel at home in Manchester, and his full acceptance speech can be seen on our YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37gBQPlbo08

A substantial sum was raised for the designated charity, Clare House Children’s Hospice.

Thanks to Dick Bott, Paul Hetherington, Andy Dunn and Steve Bates for their sterling work in organising the event, and also to our sponsors William Hill for supporting it.

Jurgen Klopp’s remarkable message to Mo Salah, the FWA, Rhian Brewster and Gareth Southgate

Jurgen Klopp sent a remarkable message to Mo Salah, the FWA, Liverpool teenager Rhian Brewster and Gareth Southgate on Thursday evening (May 10) as the ‘Egyptian King’ collected the Footballer of the Year award.

Klopp was unable to attend the FWA dinner because he was at Liverpool’s own awards ceremony, from which Salah jetted down to London in time to be presented with his trophy.

Instead the Liverpool manager prepared a thoughtful and at times moving speech which, was read out by FWA Chairman Patrick Barclay. In it he paid tribute to Mo Salah as a model professional and role model, thanked the FWA and football journalists for their dealings with him and in particular for highlighting the racism suffered in Europe by Liverpool and England teenager Rhian Brewster, who was on the club’s table at the dinner, along with Troy Townsend from Kick it Out and Matt McCann, Liverpool’s head of communications. Matt worked tirelessly to ensure Mo made it to the dinner, and we thank him and his team for their efforts.

Jurgen Klopp’s message was so well received by the audience of journalists, football personalities and their guests, that we have reprinted it in full here:


Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen,

Firstly – please accept my apologies for not being with you in person tonight.It is the club’s own award ceremony at Anfield and as such I need to prioritise being here with the rest of the team. Given this is the Football WRITERS Association I thought a written acknowledgement from me – that someone could read out on the evening – would make more sense than a recorded message.  In terms of a Liverpool presence at your event tonight, hopefully we have managed to show the respect it deserves – despite the clash with our own annual awards.

Your winner – Mr Salah is either with you now or on his way – depending when this message is read out. It is typical of Mo’s character that he was so keen to attend. And I don’t mean greedy for awards – but being gracious and good mannered to make every effort to be there in person and thank you for the honour.

There’s not much I can say about what he does ‘on the pitch’ that you guys haven’t already seen and written about. The fact you have voted for him as your ‘player of the season’ reflects that you have witnessed his incredible quality as a footballer. But it’s his qualities as a person that should not be overlooked.

I read and hear about him being a wonderful role model for Egypt – North Africa – for the wider Arabic world and for Muslims. This of course is true – but he is a role model FULL STOP. Regardless of race or religion – country or region of birth. The only ‘labels’ we should put on Mo is what a good person he is and what a fantastic footballer he is – and by the way – the first part of that is more important in life than the second.  Mo is someone who sets an example of how to approach life and how to treat others.

Around Melwood – with his teammates and the club staff – he is gentle and humble – despite being the international superstar he is now. The attention and acclaim has not changed him even by 0.01% percent.

He arrived at Liverpool humble and warm and this is the same boy who comes to be with you all tonight to accept your generous recognition. Although – maybe a little more tired and weary of selfies and autographs – so keep that in mind please. Mo, we are very proud of you and thankful for what you have done for this team and club – and of course we look forward to sharing many more seasons with you at Liverpool.

In a season when Manchester City have been outstandingly good – and played outstandingly well – football from another planet – you have won the two major awards. The one voted for by your fellow professionals and now the one voted for by the football writers. You are World Class Mo – truly world class – and what’s even more exciting – for you – for Liverpool – and for the public who get to watch you play – you can and will get even better.

Congratulations my friend. 

Aside from Mo – I have another member of my team with you all this evening – and his presence is – I believe – recognition of the importance of your industry. Writing and journalism.

Rhian Brewster is just 18 years old. During the past 12 months Rhian has established himself as one of the most exciting prospects in English football. He has grown and risen in status at Liverpool. He won the world cup for your country at his age level – he won the golden boot at that very same tournament. He made his family – his friends – his club – and his country proud in doing what he did on the football pitch.

But it was away from the football pitch – and instead in the pages of a UK newspaper – where Rhian made an even bigger impact on the game we all love and even a significant impact on society. Aged just 17 at the time – and at his own behest – albeit with the support of his family and friends – plus the support of the incredible academy staff at Liverpool – he sat and spoke about racism in modern football with the same power, command and composure that he shows when playing.

The newspaper who carried the original story was then supported by other journalists – and other publications – many of whom I am sure are in the room tonight – in making sure Rhian’s voice was loud and clear in articulating that racism and discrimination still exists and persists in our game. That it takes a 17-year-old boy to do this is as frustrating and depressing as it is inspirational and uplifting. That many of you in the room were so supportive in spreading his message is testimony to journalism in this country.

It is fitting that alongside Rhian – as part of the LFC table tonight – is Troy Townsend and other colleagues from Kick it Out. Troy and Kick It Out supported Rhian, Liverpool and other players during the very difficult periods following the occasions of racist abuse. They do so for players, staff, supporters up and down the country.

Troy and the team at Kick It Out help to educate players and staff at Liverpool – be it first team, academy or Ladies – on the importance of recognising we all still have lessons to learn in football – and in life – to ensure we are inclusive and not discriminatory.

As Rhian articulated so well in his interview – in England we are fortunate that big strides have been made whereby his own experiences have been largely restricted to European and International competitions – but sadly racism and discrimination is not exclusive to football overseas and therefore Troy and Kick It Out are still as important as ever to the game in this country. I would like to finish with two points – and I hope they do not in any way sound ‘preachy’ – if they do – blame the person reading it – it is their fault clearly.

The first is to thank the English media for the coverage it continues to give football in this country. I am probably guilty – like many on my side of it – of bemoaning “THE PRESS” at times – lumping everyone in together – but I know the game enjoys the prominence and profile in England because the media devotes so much time and energy to covering it.

In some respects, those of you in this room share the same journey as the players you cover. You have to show dedication and sacrifice – you have to constantly keep learning your job and adapt to changes – you make mistakes and learn from them – you are under huge pressure to deliver. And maybe it is good old English irony that in the age of social media many of you are now subjected the same security and comment on your performance.

And that brings me to my second and final point – in a world cup year – where many in this room will no doubt be writing and broadcasting on the players performing for their country. Clearly as a German I will be supporting my own country – and I have actually lost count of the number of countries I have claimed to be backing as my second team In Russia. I suppose that depends on the nationality of the reporter asking – I think to date I have said “if not Germany then…” and declared for Egypt – Senegal – Croatia – Serbia – Brazil and even Iceland.

If Mo Salah is in the room – then Mo – ignore this next bit – because of course if not Germany then it must be Egypt. But – England is a team I now have great interest in and I really wish Gareth, his staff and the team the best of luck. Gareth is still a relatively young manager – and both for him as a coach and many of his players – I think this will be a first World Cup at senior level.

I think as the English media you can help them – if you are minded in doing so. And that doesn’t mean be ‘cheerleaders’ or ‘ignore’ failure and mistakes. It just means remember they are a group of relatively young people who will be giving their best and trying their hardest to make a nation proud and happy.  You are blessed in this country with wonderfully talented, skilful, honest, committed and tactically astute players. You are blessed with a coach who is brave and innovative.

England has the tools – because the manager and the players have the mentality – attitude – character… it is all there for you. Maybe reduce the pressure a notch or two – that is where you can help I think. Maybe take the numbers 1966 off your computer keyboards for the summer and let this team write their own history and memories. Regardless – I hope those of you travelling to Russia have a tournament to enjoy and remember for the right reasons.

Enjoy your evening and thank you for making the right decision when voting, and for once, I don’t mean BREXIT.


Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp PA Images

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp with Mohamed Salah. PA Images

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah poses with his FWA Footballer of the Year 2018 award alongside team-mate Rhian Brewster during the FWA Footballer of the Year Dinner at The Landmark Hotel, London.  PA Images

Salah and Kirby collect FWA awards

Mo Salah of Liverpool and Fran Kirby of Chelsea Ladies collected their Footballer and Womens Footballer of the Year awards at the Football Writes’ Association’s annual dinner in London on Thursday May 10.

Both stars were enormously popular winners and gave thanked the FWA and their football colleagues in their speeches. Both had other commitments in their busy schedules – Kirby left later in the evening to attend Chelsea’s awards night, while Salah flew in by private jet from Liverpool’s own awards event.

FWA Chairman Patrick Barclay handed Salah’s award to the Liverpool striker, who is the first African and Arabic player to win the award, which has been running since 1948.  Phil Neville, manager of the England Women’s team, presented Kirby’s award and raised a toast to the FWA.

The evening was attended by a host of stars from the world of football including former Footballers of the Year Pat Jennings and Gary Lineker. Chris Hughton of Brighton was one of the many managers in attendance, along with other players from past and present, including Peter Crouch, Joe Jordan, Pat Nevin, Lawrie McMenemy, Tony Cascarino, Alan Smith, and many more.

Mo Salah said: “I am always happy when I think I’ve achieved something and get awards. I work hard for that. I always want to work hard for my team. I was here four years ago (with Chelsea) and a lot of people were saying ‘he couldn’t play in the Premier League and it is very difficult for him’, so it was always in my mind to come back

“From the day I left Chelsea it was always in my mind to come back to make them wrong. So now I make them wrong. I’m not the same player. I improved a lot in Rome but I can’t say everything is down to me. The team-mates maybe different, the coach and staff, they make my game easier and they always help me ion and off the pitch, so I have to thank all of them.”

Fran Kirby said:  “This awards is massive for me and my family, it is amazing for the women’s game. Hopefully you can see the dedication we are putting into it, on and off the pitch. It is a massive achievement for me and for women’s football. I hope we continue to get your support throughout all the seasons, because it really is going to the next level.”

Phil Neville raised a toast to Sir Alex Ferguson as his former manager recovers from illness. The England women’s team manager then presented the FWA’s first Women’s Footballer of the Year award to Fran Kirby saying: “She is my little number 10, the one I look to to unlock the door with individual brilliance.

“She has had an unbelievable season for England and Chelsea, I saw her score a fabulous goal in the FA Cup final at Wembley. She is a special player who has had an unbelievable season, which I have seen week in and week out, as well as three or four camps with England. She wants to be the best footballer in the world and she will achieve that with her dedication, but Fran is a fantastic person as well.”

Former FWA chairmen Steve Bates and Paul Hetherington were also awarded life-memberships of the FWA for their tremendous service over the years.

Chelsea Ladies Fran Kirby poses with FWA Women’s Footballer of the Year 2018 awards during the FWA Footballer of the Year Dinner at The Landmark Hotel, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 10, 2018. Photo credit: Steven Paston/PA Wire

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah the FWA Footballer of the Year 2018 awards during the FWA Footballer of the Year Dinner at The Landmark Hotel, London.


Mohamed Salah is the Football Writers’ Association’s Footballer of the Year.

The Liverpool forward narrowly beat Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne in a ballot of over 400 FWA members, with the winning margin less than 20 votes.

Tottenham striker Harry Kane was placed third.

Between them, Salah and De Bruyne polled more than 90 per cent of the FWA member votes.

The Egyptian, 25, becomes the first African winner of the football’s oldest individual award, which has been running since 1948. Salah will be presented with his trophy at the 2018 FWA Footballer of the Year dinner, to be held at the Landmark Hotel in London on May 10.

Patrick Barclay, FWA Chairman, said: “It’s been the tightest call since 1968/69, when there was a dead heat between Tony Book of Manchester City and Derby’s Dave Mackay.

“Right up to the last week or so we thought it might happen again, so strong was the support for Kevin de Bruyne, but Mo Salah’s relentless match-winning form, exemplified by his two great goals against Roma, seems to have swung the vote by a very narrow margin.

“What a race it has been between two players who, in a relatively short time, have reached genuine world class. But Mo Salah is the worthiest of winners. He is also the first African to receive the award and we congratulate him on a magnificent season.”

The FWA has also introduced the inaugural FWA Women’s Footballer of the Year Award, which was won by Chelsea and England forward Fran Kirby, who will collect her accolade at the gala event.

Both Kirby and Salah were also voted PFA Players of the Year last month.

Other players to receive votes from FWA members were, in alphabetical order: Sergio Aguero (Man City), Christian Eriksen (Tottenham), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Nick Pope (Burnley), David Silva (Manchester City), Raheem Sterling (Man City) and Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham).

You can see the full list of previous winners, starting with Sir Stanley Matthews in 1947, here: http://footballwriters.co.uk/previous-foty

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring his side’s first goal of the game during the UEFA Champions League, Quarter Final at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester.

Footballer of the Year – voting deadline tonight

A reminder that voting closes at midnight tonight (April 30) for the Footballer of the Year, so if you have yet to cast your vote, make sure you do so today.  Mohammed Salah and Kevin de Bruyne are among the front-runners, but you are, of course, free to vote for whichever player you consider, by precept and example, to be the Footballer of the Year.  Last year’s winner was N’Golo Kante, who finished ajhead of Chelsea team-mate Eden Hazard and Tottenham’s Dele Alli.

The winner will be announced tomorrow (Tuesday May 1) at 10am, and will be honoured at the Footballer of the Year dinner on May 10th at the Landmark Hotel.

All FWA members can vote via the link on this website, or by email or phone to FWA Executive Secretary Paul McCarthy

Fran Kirby is FWA Women’s Footballer of the Year

Fran Kirby, the Chelsea Ladies and England striker, is the first winner of the Footballer Writers’ Association’s Women’s Footballer of the Year award.

Kirby, 24, has scored 22 goals this season for Chelsea who lead the FA Women’s Super League, have reached the final of the Women’s FA Cup and the semi-finals of the Uefa Women’s Champions League. She also starred for England as they reached the semi-finals of Euro 2017.

Kirby was the overwhelming choice of the 22-strong panel of expert members of the FWA. Having led the preliminary vote from which a shortlist was drawn up she scooped more than 50 per cent of the final tally. Jodie Taylor, who won the Golden Boot at Euro 2017, and is now at Seattle Reign having also played for Arsenal and Melbourne Victory during the last 12 months, came second.

Lucy Bronze (Lyon), Izzy Christiansen (Manchester City) and Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal) made up the rest of the short-list.

Kirby said: “I was really proud to be nominated in the first place but to actually win is a real honour. To be the first recipient of this honour and award is so special.”

Patrick Barclay, FWA Chairman, said: “Congratulations to Fran Kirby on being such a worthy winner of this historic vote by an expert panel of FWA members.

“I can’t help thinking of our first Footballer Of The Year vote back in 1947, when the winner was one of England’s most admired players of all time, Sir Stanley Matthews. Now, after Stan, comes Fran – she’ll always be first in what will become a long list of Women’s Footballers Of The Year.

“It was a great achievement to emerge from such a strong short list and let’s hope Fran can take inspiration as Chelsea prepare for a tough second leg in Germany.”

Kirby will be presented with her award, alongside the Footballer of the Year, at the FWA’s annual awards dinner on May 10 at the Landmark Hotel in London.

Fran Kirby

Footballer of the Year voting

Voting has opened for Footballer of the Year, and all FWA members should by now have received an email with a code for online voting.  If you have not received an email, however, or would like to register your vote by email, phone, text or post, please contact our executive secretary Paul McCarthy on paul@maccamedia.co.uk or 07831 650977 .  Voting closes on midnight April 30th.

Women’s Footballer of the Year shortlist

Five members of Phil Neville’s England squad have been voted on to the shortlist for the FWA’s inaugural Women’s Footballer of the Year award. The short-list was chosen by a 22-strong expert panel, drawn from members of the Football Writers’ Association who report on women’s football.

The five are (in alphabetical order): Lucy Bronze (Lyon), Isobel Christiansen (Manchester City), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), Jodie Taylor (Arsenal/Melbourne City/Seattle Reign)

Two young English players, Millie Bright (Chelsea) and Nikita Parris (Man City) were very close to making the cut, as was Arsenal’s Dutch striker Vivianne Miedema.

Votes were also received by (in alphabetical order, English unless stated): Eni Aluko (Chelsea), Toni Duggan (Barcelona), Ji So-yun (Chelsea & South Korea), Hedvig Lindahl (Chelsea & Sweden), Maren Mjelde (Chelsea & Norway), Lucy Staniforth (Sunderland), Keira Walsh (Man City), Ellen White (Birmingham City).

The winner will be announced later in the season, after further deliberations.


Lucy Bronze (Lyon) . Voted into the team of the tournament at Euro 2016 after which she left Manchester City for Lyon, the French and European champions. Defender who led England at the recent She Believes Cup.


Isobel Christiansen (Manchester City)  Maturing attacking midfielder who creates and scores goals. Joined from Birmingham City in 2014 and has been a key figure in Manchester City’s rise.


Fran Kirby (Chelsea) . Leading scorer this season with 15 goals in 20 domestic appearances. Signed by Chelsea from Reading for a rumoured record fee in 2015 and scored consistently since.


Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal) England vice-captain who shone at Euro 2016 and has been at the heart of Arsenal’s revival. Midfielder with a penchant for spectacular goals.


Jodie Taylor (Arsenal/Melbourne City/Seattle Reign) Golden Boot winner at Euro 2016 who has since scored for Arsenal, Melbourne City (including the winner in the W-League Grand Final), and now Seattle.

The FWA’s panel will meet again to decide on the winner ahead of the Footballer of the Year dinner on May 10th


Football Book of the Year

Biographies of some of the most successful football managers, past and present, dominate the Football Writers’ Association Book of the Year Award Longlist for 2018.

Now sponsored by Coutts, it is one of 10 categories within the Sports Book Awards Ceremony which takes place at Lord’s Cricket Ground on June 7th.

A total of 12 books made the shortlist, selected by members of the FWA’s books committee, and eight of the authors were present at Coutts’ offices on the Strand for a the announcement on Monday March 19th.

Sir Matt Busby by FWA Chairman Patrick Barclay and Quiet Genius (Life of Bob Paisley) by Ian Herbert will compete in the football book category with David Bolchover’s The Greatest Comeback, the story of Bela Guttmann. Each are European Cup-winning managers, a feat that remains elusive to Mauricio Pochettino, the exciting young coach at Spurs and subject of Brave New World by Sky Sports La Liga pundit Guillem Balague, another FWA member.

Stephen Constantine is a lesser-known veteran coach of six different national teams in four continents. His story, written with Owen AmosFrom Delhi to the Den: The Story of Football’s Most Travelled Manager continues the strong managerial theme running through the list.

Last year’s Autobiography of the Year award winner at the Sports Book Awards, Michael Calvin who co-authored Joey Barton’s life story, is longlisted again with No Hunger in Paradise, the third part in his much celebrated trilogy of football writing. James Montague is another previous winner and his book, The Billionaires Club, takes a delve into the unstoppable rise of football’s super rich owners while Martin Lipton’s White Hart Lane provides football fans with a complete history of Tottenham Hotspur’s home  before it re-opens after redevelopment next season.

Tom van Hulsen’s Game Changers – The Remarkable Story of Dutch Masters Arnold Muhren and Frans Thijssen, celebrates  two great Ipswich Town midfield maestros while Doctor Socrates by Andrew Downie chronicles the maverick, iconic captain of the greatest Brazil side never to win the World Cup. David Tossell’s Alan Ball: The Man in White Boots completes the midfield quartet for the 2018 longlist.

James Corbett’s Faith Of Our Families: Everton FC –An Oral History 1878-2018 is a book told by the people who made the great Merseyside club and completes the long list.

David Willis, Chairman of the Sports Book Awards said: ‘We are delighted to be announcing the Football Writers’ Association Book of the Year Longlist and working in partnership with Coutts for the first time and the highly esteemed Football Writers’ Association.’

Simon Hopes, Director Coutts, in response said: ‘The business of football is very important to Coutts and we are very appreciative of the opportunity to partner with The Sports Book Awards and the Football Writers’ Association for the first time in FIFA World Cup year.’

Mike Collett, Chair of the Football Writers’ Association Books Committee, commented: “We’re incredibly impressed by the quality of this year’s football writing. So much so that we’ve decided to announce this longlist for the first time. We’re thrilled with the continued association with the Sports Book Awards team and by the new sponsorship from Coutts.

“Selecting the winner of this award gets harder every year” added Mike, “It reminds me of the Goal of the Season award — what is better a 30-yard screamer or a goal scored after a mazy run through the defence. ?  The same with these awards, the subjects are so diverse, how do you pick a winner ? The interesting part is that there are certain criteria we set, and the winner invariably meets all of them.
“The standard was so high this year that for the first time, with the backing of the Sports Book Awards organisation we have held a public Long List  launch with eight of the 12 nominated authors able to discuss their work on a panel chaired by FWA Book Committee member Philippe Auclair. It was a fantastic night at Coutts Bank, and many thanks to them and their staff for making the evening such a memorable one.”

The winners of the 2018 Sports Book of the Year Awards will be announced at a gala awards dinner to take place at Lord’s Cricket Ground on the evening of June 7th.

The Sports Book of the Year Awards partners include Sky Sports, The Times, Thomson Reuters, AT Cross and Coutts. The final short lists for the 2018 Sports Book of the Year Awards will be announced at a further reception at Coutts Strand branch on May 10th 2018.


FWA to honour Women’s Footballer of the Year

For the first time in the 71 years of the Footballer of the Year award, the members of the Football Writers’ Association will also be honouring the Women’s Footballer of the Year at its annual dinner on May 10.

The decision to break with tradition recognises the development of the women’s game as chairman Patrick Barclay explained: “The FWA simply felt a need to keep pace. Quite a few of our members now work in women’s football and this reflects our belief in equal opportunity.”

The FWA has formed a sub-committee that features leading figures in the women’s game to decide the winner of the inaugural award – including distinguished internationals Alex Scott and Rachel Finnis- Brown, who have 222 England caps between them.

They will serve on the selection panel alongside some of the most highly respected journalists and broadcasters involved in the women’s game including Jacqui Oatley, Jonathan Pearce, Glenn Moore and Jane Dougall.

Arsenal full-back Alex Scott, said: “I am delighted that the FWA have taken this action – I can’t wait to get down to work with the other judges.”

The Women’s Footballer of the Year trophy will be presented on Thursday May 10 at the Landmark Hotel.

For more information, contact Executive Secretary, Paul McCarthy (paul@maccamedia.co.uk) or 07831 650977