FWA AGM on Wednesday October 14

The Annual General Meeting of the FWA will be held on Wednesday October 14 at 10am on Zoom.

All FWA members are welcome to attend, and if you wish to do so, please contact our executive secretary Paul McCarthy for log-in details on paul@maccamedia.co.uk

All members of the National Executive committee are expected to attend.  Matters to be discussed will be election of officials, financial report and matters arising. Minutes will be published following the meeting.

Mental well-being advice for football writers

Paul McCarthy, our Executive Secretary, has posted an important message on Twitter about mental health (below). The FWA and our chair Carrie Brown have worked hard with the FA, via their HEADS UP campaign, to develop a resource pack specifically for FWA members: https://www.mentalhealthatwork.org.uk/toolkit/mental-health-some-pointers-for-football-writers/
From @PaulMcCarthy66:

Apologies in advance for a somewhat lengthy thread but as Executive Secretary of @theofficialfwa it’s become a real concern to see so many young sports journalists suffering mental health issues through simply trying to do their job.

Our chair @CarrieBrownTV has made it a major part of her tenure to highlight this issue and for the FWA to provide assistance and support for anybody suffering in this way, be they members or non-members.

But I thought I’d try and put down a few thoughts on trying to cope with the pressures the job entails, especially in an era where your work is scrutinised and possibly decried almost instantaneously. I also write this as somebody who has made more than their share of mistakes.

If you write with honesty you never have anything for which to reproach yourself. You’ll make mistakes, but if they are made honestly and you learn from them, you can always look yourself in the mirror.

Never take short cuts, even if you are under pressure from your boss or even if you’re putting pressure on yourself. A great reporter, Alex Montgomery, once told me never to write what you don’t know. There’s no shame in admitting that, just work harder to actually find out.

Being at the receiving end of a Twitter pile-on can be overwhelming. But remember the vast majority of those criticising don’t have your level of credibility, insight, knowledge or contacts. Your best friend is the mute button, never be afraid to use it. In fact, enjoy using it.

By and large, Twitter is the equivalent of six blokes arguing in a pub after a match. Sometimes it’s funny and insightful but most of the time it’s just seeing who can shout the loudest to make their point as they become increasingly pissed.

Despite the inevitable pressure, football journalism is an incredible job even if it might feel there’s not the same level of prestige attached to it. Remember, most fans would give their eye teeth to do what you do, so try and enjoy it. Easy to say but important to do.

Most of all, talk to people. The job is too isolated now because its so easy to get in touch via email, text, WhatsApp or DMs. The best reporters actually physically TALK to their contacts, colleagues or even their rivals. We’re in the communication industry so communicate.

Finally, never be afraid to ask for help. My contact details are easy enough to find and I’ll always be happy to help or just try and offer advice. I’m sure the same goes for all my fellow FWA National Committee members. DO NOT SUFFER IN SILENCE. Asking for help is not a weakness.

JORDAN HENDERSON – Footballer of the Year

The Football Writers’ Association are delighted to announce that Jordan Henderson is the Footballer of the Year for 2019-20.

The Liverpool captain saw off stiff opposition from Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne and Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford as well as team-mates, Virgil Van Dijk and Sadio Mane to claim the honour, the oldest individual award in the world.

Two other Liverpool players – Trent Alexander-Arnold and Alisson Becker – also received votes as the Premier League champions dominated the voting but it was Henderson who was a convincing winner, landing more than a quarter of the votes.

He said: “I’d like to say how appreciative I am of the support of those who voted for me and the Football Writers’ Association in general. You only have to look at the past winners of it, a number of whom I’ve been blessed to play with here at Liverpool, like Stevie (Gerrard), Luis (Suarez) and Mo (Salah) to know how prestigious it is.

 “But as grateful as I am I don’t feel like I can accept this on my own. I don’t feel like anything I’ve achieved this season or in fact during my whole career has been done on my own. I owe a lot to so many different people – but none more so than my current teammates – who have just been incredible and deserve this every bit as much as I do.

 “We’ve only achieved what we’ve achieved because every single member of our squad has been brilliant. And not just in matches. Not just in producing the moments that make the headlines and the back pages but every day in training. 

“The players who’ve started the most games for us this season have been as good as they have been because of our culture and our environment at Melwood. No one individual is responsible for that – it’s a collective effort and that’s how I view accepting this honour.

 “I accept it on behalf of this whole squad, because without them I’m not in a position to be receiving this honour. These lads have made me a better player – a better leader and a better person.

 “If anything I hope those who voted for me did so partly to recognise the entire team’s contribution.

 “Individual awards are nice and they are special and I will cherish this one. But an individual award without the collective achievement wouldn’t mean anywhere as much to me – if anything at all.”

FWA chair, Carrie Brown, said: “Leadership is intangible and often unquantifiable unless it is inarguable. Jordan Henderson is both the ultimate professional and now a bona fide Liverpool legend. 

“Jordan is a player his team-mates look to on the pitch and who his rivals look up to off it. The voting criteria for the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year is one who leads by precept and example and in this country’s darkest moment, Jordan, unprompted, personally rallied club captains to establish #PlayersTogether. 

“Millions of pounds have been raised for the NHS and significantly #PlayersTogether is now an established collective power base for players to engage in campaigns, none more so evident in the ongoing and powerful anti-racism #BlackLivesMatter campaign. He is a truly worthy winner of our award.”

Gareth Southgate, England manager, added his own tribute to Henderson: “Jordan’s the epitome of selfless commitment to the team and so it’s extra special that he is being personally recognised for the way he’s played, led his club and role modelled off the field to help wider society. I’m delighted for him and his family.”

As well as the top five of Henderson, De Bruyne, Rashford, Van Dijk and Mane, ten other players received votes from FWA members including Alexander-Arnold, Alisson, Raheem Sterling, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Sergio Aguero, Adama Traore, Danny Ings, Jack Grealish, James Madison and Jonny Evans.

The Footballer of the Year trophy has been awarded since 1948 when Sir Stanley Matthews was its first recipient. 

Jack Charlton by Colin Young

Colin Young got to know Jack Charlton well as a journalist covering North East football and also the Republic of Ireland.  The two of them worked closely when Colin wrote “Jack Charlton – the Authorised Biography.”

Here is Colin’s tribute to his friend:

Very few men will unite Ireland, England and the rest of the United Kingdom in grief quite like Jack Charlton has this weekend.
To those of us fortunate enough to have covered his career from both sides of the Irish Sea, and hopefully to his family and friends, it will come as absolutely no surprise whatsoever.
The continued outpouring of so many affectionate tributes on social media, at the request of his grand daughter Emma, is a true mark of a wonderful man.
A football giant – he was nicknamed “The Giraffe” and “Big Jack” of course – he was a giant in life too. He loved life and people and people and life loved him.
Everyone who met him had a story. Something unusual or daft he did, or more likely said. He loved kids – right back to when he used to entertain Don Revie’s young children with sing-songs on the Leeds United bus on away trips – and made a point of making them laugh if they dared approach him for an autograph in club car parks. Twitter was full of such stories yesterday as the nation came to terms with his passing at the age of 85 on Friday.
His official biography, written four years ago, took six months, came to 100,000 words and included interviews from around 30 former team-mates, players, backroom staff, friends and family.
I always felt it barely scratched the surface. It could easily have been one million words, brimming with hilarious and touching anecdotes from 300 contributors, from all walks of life, all touched by the magic of Big Jack’s presence.
Not a single word could have been written without the hours spent with Jack, his wife Pat and son John and their backing – in his Ashington pitch he’d call me the ‘laird with the boo-k” – granted me access to team-mates, ex-players and, just as importantly, friends from his entire life. But never enough of them.
It is impossible to pick a favourite from the many tales told by Mick McCarthy, Andy Townsend, Paul McGrath, Tony Cascarino and so many others. But the best ones usually involved his mates and their fishing escapades.
He had his moments with journalists in his pomp. All real football men of that era did. But some of his lifelong best friends, like James Mossop and Peter Bryne, came from the written packs covering his career in England and Ireland. And they loved every minute of it.
When I was asked to put Jack’s biography together, I approached Peter and James to contribute with their personal reflections of their time on the road with Jack. Peter wrote his original biography and World Cup diaries. James had also penned a book or two and was with Jack every second of the night England won the World Cup in 1966. It can’t have been easy keeping the word count down. But like Jack, they were consummate professionals.
Journalists from Jack’s early years recalled his playing and club management days. John Helm (Leeds United), Ray Robertson (Middlesbrough), Peter Ferguson (Sheffield Wednesday), Bob Cass (Newcastle United). I’ll never forget Jack pausing to read Bob’s words as he was signing a pile on his kitchen table after the book had been published.
In his last piece before he died, Bob reflected on Jack’s hero-worship status in Ireland compared to the less favourable view of his own Geordie public after a botched attempt to resurrect cash-strapped Newcastle United in the wake of Kevin Keegan’s first departure. “It’s a good read that,” he said.*
Those who were part of Jack’s seven year adventure with the Republic of Ireland added to those stories from the memorable seven years at the helm of the Republic’s green army, such as Christopher Davies, David Walker, Gabriel Egan, George Hamilton, Philip Quinn and of course, the doyen Peter Byrne.
And the football might have been successful, but it wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t meant to be. And that really didn’t matter.
Jack took Republic of Ireland’s players, press and supporters to places they’d never dreamed of. He opened up the team hotel to celebrate as they took finals in Germany, Italy and the United States by storm, ensuring every press conferences, and every get-together was memorable for everybody.
There really will be no one quite like him.
The best piece in the book was written by Emma Wilkinson. Jack’s aforementioned grand daughter, now a journalist with ITV.
It included this passage:
 “In many ways grandad has led a very atypical life. But to us he has only ever been grandad. A man who mastered international football management, but still can’t operate the television remote. A man who has been lucky enough to be exposed to the finer things in life but still can’t accept that a battered haddock and bag of chips is going to set him back more than £2.50. And a man who will hold his grandchildren back from the road before they have looked both ways, whether they are four or twenty-four. Fame has not changed him and is a concept that he still finds endearingly novel. Nothing is ever too much to ask and whether he is sent something to sign in the post, or someone wants to reminisce with him in a restaurant or pub about Leeds, Ireland, the World Cup or anything else for that matter, he is always obliging. He feels fortunate to be in the position that he is, and he is hyper-aware of the future down the pit that may have awaited him had circumstances been different. Much has been written about the role my great-grandma Cissie played in altering this path but she is not the only woman to have played a pivotal role in his life, He owes a great deal to my grandma Pat, who with love and a dash of exasperation, has supported him unconditionally for more than 50 years.”

 

Big Jack in a nutshell. It was a privilege just to have met him.
 
*(Anyone who knew Bob, and may feel that’s a first, or not, are free to add their own comments at this point)

Jack Charlton RIP

We at the FWA are saddened to learn of the passing on Friday of Leeds and England legend Jack Charlton OBE, at the age of 85.

Big Jack, as he was widely known, had an incredible playing career, culminating in a World Cup winner’s medal in 1966 as well as numerous successes with Leeds United, his only club.

He then went on to great success in management, most notably leading Ireland to the World Cup quarter-finals in 1990. He was voted our Footballer of the Year in 1967.

A family statement read: “Jack died peacefully on Friday 10 July at the age of 85. He was at home in Northumberland, with his family by his side.

“As well as a friend to many, he was a much-adored husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

“We cannot express how proud we are of the extraordinary life he led and the pleasure he brought to so many people in different countries and from all walks of life.
“He was a thoroughly honest, kind, funny and genuine man who always had time for people. His loss will leave a huge hole in all our lives but we are thankful for a lifetime of happy memories.”
Having made his England debut at the age of 30 in 1965, Jack went on to win 35 caps, scoring six goals, with the highlight being the World Cup final success over West Germany in 1966. The the centre-half played in all six of England’s games at the tournament alongside his younger brother, Sir Bobby, and in total they represented their country together on 28 occasions.

Jack Charlton went on to be a part of England’s squads at the 1968 European Championship in Italy and the 1970 World Cup in Mexico with his final cap coming in the latter tournament; a 1-0 group stage win over Czechoslovakia.

He made a record 773 appearances over 21 years for Leeds during their most successful era, winning the League Championship, FA Cup, League Cup and Inter-City Fairs Cup .

After retiring as a player in 1973, Charlton moved into club management with Middlesbrough, Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle United.
But it was as manager of Ireland that he hit the heights, first qualifying for the 1988 European Championship, their first major finals, before guiding them to the quarter-finals of the 1990 World Cup and the round of 16 at the FIFA World Cup.

He retired from football in 1996 but continued to be hugely popular as a TV pundit for many more years. Jack was a good friend to many FWA members and always had time for the media. He will be much missed, and we send our condolences to his wife Pat, family and friends.

Vivianne Miedema is Women’s Footballer of the Year

Vivianne Miedema has been named the Football Writers’ Association Women’s Footballer of the Year.

The Arsenal striker missed out on the award by a single vote last year but this time the Dutch star has claimed the accolade by the narrowest of margins.

She was pushed all the way in the voting by Chelsea’s Bethany England and follows Lionesses forwards Nikita Parris (2019) and Fran Kirby (2018) to be named the third FWA Women’s Footballer of the Year. 

Chair of the FWA’s women’s sub-committee, Jen O’Neill, said: “This was a close-run decision because of the brilliant breakout season that Beth England had with the Lionesses and WSL champions Chelsea.

“However, Vivianne’s clinical efficiency in front of goal and her seemingly effortless poise, can mean her all-round ability and footballing intelligence are sometimes overlooked. She is a worthy winner and a world-class performer.

With more assists than any other WSL player this season, she is also a valuable creator of openings for teammates; dropping to collect the ball and playing in others, or making space with her movement. 

Although a humble and laid-back character, she is also determined that the women’s game carries on breaking barriers, and she continues to co-author a series of children’s books to entertain and inspire young players in the Netherlands.”  

The FAWSL’s Golden Boot winner for the past two seasons and leading scorer in the current UEFA Women’s Champions League competition, Miedema, maintained her stellar standards through 2019 and into 2020. She became the Netherlands’ all-time top scorer (male or female) when she netted her 60th goal at the World Cup in France last June, scoring three times for her country on their way to the final. 

The Women’s Footballer of the Year is decided by a two-stage poll of a panel of experts, and although the season was suspended after the international break in March and could not be completed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the goal-grabbing form of the FAWSL’s top scorers Miedema and England put them clearly ahead of their peers in the first phase. 

Miedema then carried her slight lead over England into the second stage so that the women’s award was decided by just a single vote (12-11) for a second successive year. 

Chelsea’s Norwegian creative talent Guro Reiten and Lyon’s England full-back Lucy Bronze were joint-third, just ahead of Manchester City and England’s FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 Bronze Boot winner Ellen White.

Other players acknowledged in the voting by the panel were Steph Houghton and Lauren Hemp (both Manchester City), Erin Cuthbert and Sophie Ingle (both Chelsea), Rachel Furness (Spurs/Liverpool), Beth Mead (Arsenal), Lauren James (Manchester United), and Chloe Kelly (Everton).

Steve Stammers – funeral details

The funeral of our friend and colleague Steve Stammers, who passed away on June 12, will take place on Friday July 3 at 4pm at Upminster Crematorium (South Essex Crematorium), Ockendon Road, Upminster, RM14 2UY.

His son Steve junior says only 25 family and close friends will be allowed in the chapel, but there is space for 100 people outside to watch via video link.

There is plenty of parking at the venue. Unfortunately, there will be no wake after the service, however it is the last service of the day so guests are able to all chat afterwards for as long as they wish.

Please can all donations be made to Mid & South Essex Hospitals via a dedicated Just Giving page – https://bit.ly/2Z028MD

For any queries, please contact Steve Stammers junior.

Telegraph Sports Book of the Year awards

The Telegraph Sports Book of the Year awards announced their shortlists today.

In the Football Book of the Year section, selected by us at the Football Writers’ Association and sponsored by CLOC Printing, there are six outstanding books:

  • David Tossell’s Natural, a revealing and comprehensive biography of one of England’s most loved footballers, Jimmy Greaves.
  • Tobias Jones delves into a facet of Italian football’s subculture, examining the sinister side of fandom in Ultra.
  • Daniel Fieldsend’s Locãl looks at the uniquely intertwined relationship between Liverpudlians and their city and football club.
  • Jonathan Wilson’s excellently researched assessment of how Hungarian football in the 1950s shaped the modern game, The Names Heard Long Ago.
  • Leo Moynihan’s The Three Kings, tracks the life and careers of three of the greatest ever managers, Stein, Shankly & Busby, undoubtedly all architects of the modern game.
  • Steven Scragg pays homage to the European Cup Winners’ Cup with A Tournament Frozen In Time, charting its distinct history through the unique, eccentric stories it created.

The Telegraph Sports Autobiography of the Year shortlist features a diverse group of sports people, including world heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury, World Cup- winning cricket hero Ben Stokes and England’s leading all time wicket taker James Anderson, England women’s footballing-legend Eniola Aluko, the extrovert racing driver Jason Plato, as well as former Liverpool and England footballers Michael Owen and Emile Heskey.

The Children’s Sports Book of the Year shortlist includes former England women’s football captain Casey Stoney’s, Changing the Game, as well as Matt Oldfield’s Unbelievable Football, and Alex Bellos & Ben Lyttle’s popular series, Football School Season 4.

The Pinsent Masons International Autobiography category includes Manchester United and Spanish international Juan Mata’s story in Suddenly A Footballer – My Story, and German defender Per Mertesacker’s Big Friendly German.

This year’s General Outstanding Sports Writing award shortlist includes Andy Woodward sharing his harrowing story in Position of Trust, a trust shattered at the hands of convicted sex offender Barry Bennell.

The Biography shortlist includes football too, with Lofty by Matt Clough assessing the career and influence of England footballing legend Nat Lofthouse. David Tossell reveals the trials and tribulations of another England football star in Natural, his biography of Jimmy Greaves.

The Illustrated Sports Book of the Year shortlist features An A to Z of Football Collectibles by Carl Wilkes, A life Behind the Lens by Richard Pelham, and Destination Tottenham collated by Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.

The Telegraph Sports Book Awards 2020 winners will be digitally announced on July 15th. The online announcement will replace the traditional celebration at Lord’s Cricket Ground.

The Telegraph Sports Book Awards 2020 are grateful to our sponsors and partners, including The Telegraph, Sky Sports, BBC Sport, CLOC Printing, The Football Writers’ Association, Pinsent Masons, VAARU Cycles, The Rugby Writers and Sir Tim Rice’s The Heartaches.

The Sports Book Awards official charity partner is now the excellent National Literacy Trust, who are also collaborating with the awards to help launch the inaugural Children’s Sports Book of the Year award.

For more information about The Telegraph Sports Book Awards 2020, visit

http://sportsbookawards.com/

 

Steve Stammers RIP

We at the FWA are devastated to learn that our great friend and colleague Steve Stammers has passed away after a short illness, at the age of 71.

Steve was a stickler for doing things the right way, renowned for his generosity, humour, helpfulness to young reporters, and especially as a superb story-getter, covering London football for over 40 years.  He started on the Brentwood Argus and went to Fleet Street via Hayters Sports Agency, working for the Daily Star, Evening Standard and Sunday Mirror. In semi-retirement he continued to cover football for the Mail, and was always a cheerful presence in press boxes, with a host of stories and jokes, both good and bad.

Steve was an old-school reporter who commanded the respect of his colleagues by breaking superb exclusives, and won the confidence of some of the biggest names in football by adhering to the old-fashioned values of confidentiality, correctness and discretion.

We will all miss him, as the outpouring of grief on social media by his many friends and colleagues has demonstrated. His son Steve junior has received many messages from some of the biggest names in football. Few knew him better than his great friend and one-time colleague at Hayters and the Evening Standard, Michael Hart, who has written this tribute.

TRIBUTE TO STEVE STAMMERS, by Michael Hart, former FWA Chairman.

My friend Steve Stammers lived and worked in the world of the big ‘exclusive’. Nothing gave him greater pleasure than seeing the ‘exclusive’ tag alongside his name on a story no one else had.

For more than 40 years his mission in life was to provide his newspaper with genuinely exclusive news. He was good at it too. He started his career in journalism as a junior news gatherer on the Brentwood Argus. That is where I met him. It was 1968. He was interviewing my girlfriend at the time. She was the Brentwood carnival queen. From that moment Steve and I enjoyed a friendly rivalry –  on and off the field. We played with and against each other for many years in the Sunday leagues around Essex and East London. He was a left winger of pace and, at the time, thought he was George Best. I thought I was Bobby Moore, so we clashed regularly

His love of football was total. I helped him get his first job in Fleet Street with Hayters Agency. He worked for six papers in total including the Daily Star, Evening Standard and Sunday Mirror. He was one of the last of the old school Fleet Street football writers.

A grammar schoolboy from Harold Hill, he was noted for his smart ties, crisp white shirts, polished shoes and an adherence to old fashioned values like good manners and loyalty. He also turned joke telling into an art form.

He compiled an impressive contacts book that contained details of some of the most significant and influential people in the game. He charted the evolution of a sport that emerged from the cloth cap era to become a billion dollar playground. Along the way he befriended a host of stars, many of whom became friends for life.

A generous and engaging personality, he always had time to help young reporters with practical advice and young managers who would ask for his opinion about players they were thinking of buying or selling.

But his real love involved unearthing football stories before his rivals. It was a competitive field but he was able to break many major stories. The one that gave him most satisfaction was his 1996 revelation that an unknown French coach working in Japan was about to succeed Bruce Rioch as manager of Arsenal. The smart money at the time was on Johann Cruyff, but Stammers knew otherwise.

  Steve was to enjoy a long and fruitful relationship with Arsene Wenger and became a familiar figure at the Arsenal training ground.

As a French speaker he was well placed to befriend many of Arsenal’s French players and he regularly covered the French team at international level. He covered a total of eight World Cup tournaments.

He was even invited by Patrick Vieira to be the English-based director of his Diambars charity that provides football and education programmes for Senegalese children.

In 2008 he wrote ‘Arsenal: The official biography’ and in retirement continued to write about football on a freelance basis.

Steve was married twice and is survived by his two children.

Footballer of the Year – voting now open

The Footballer of the Year awards have been delayed for obvious reasons, but voting is now open.  Here is a letter to FWA members from our Executive Secretary Paul McCarthy:

“Firstly, I hope you are all as well as can be and coping with the circumstances in which we find ourselves. 

With a nod to some kind of normality, we are preparing for the announcement of both the Footballer of the Year and the Women’s Footballer of the Year. As you know, the WFOTY is voted by an expert panel and we intend to make the announcement on Wednesday July 1 with a presentation of the trophy on a date to be confirmed. If all goes well, the FWA will film the presentation and an interview will go on all our media channels. Obviously, this depends very much on social distancing restrictions etc but we will do everything in our power to celebrate the winner properly.

The Footballer of the Year vote is now open, to coincide with the resumption of the Premier League season and will close at midnight on Thursday July 23 for an announcement at 10am the following day.

You should have all received an email with your unique voting code and instructions on how to register your vote. Can I urge anybody who has changed their email address and may not have informed us, to contact Membership Secretary, John Ley (statmanjon@aol.com) before June 17 with your new details.

As always, you can also register your vote by email to paul@maccamedia.co.uk or by text/WhatsApp on 07831 650977.

Again, we will do everything possible to celebrate the winner’s achievement and there will be an announcement closer to the time as to what form that takes.

My apologies for such a break from tradition. I look forward to receiving your votes and hopefully we will all be able to gather safely together before too long.

Thanks

Paul McCarthy, Executive Secretary

paul@maccamedia.co.uk

Manchester City’s Nikita Parris and Raheem Sterling poses with both of their 2019 FWA Footballer of the Year awards during the FWA Footballer of the Year Dinner at the Landmark Hotel, London.