Vikki Orvice fundraising dinner

A gift to you from our birthday girl.

The FWA’s first female vice-chair, Vikki Orvice, should have celebrated her 57th birthday on Friday. 

Sadly we can’t mark the occasion with Vikki this year as she passed away in February. Instead we will celebrate her life with a fundraising dinner on Wednesday (13th) for the The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

Ahead of the fundraiser, a number of generous donations from the world of sport, entertainment, literature, fine dining and fashion have been placed in a live online auction. 

Vikki’s husband Ian Ridley and the organising committee, featuring our chair Carrie Brown, National Committee members Jacqui Oatley, Philippe Auclair and Jo Tongue, have been inundated with offers of once-in-a-lifetime and money-can’t-buy experiences from celebrated names.

They can be found at:

We would like to thank those in the football family who have donated so generously, including Sky Sports, Chelsea, Arsenal, Watford, Tony Currie and Sheffield United, Gary Lineker with BBC Match of the Day, Tony Adams, the Football Association, the Premier League, ITV Sport, BBC Radio Four, The Sun, The Sunday Times, Richard Pelham and, of course, The FWA. You have wowed with your kindness and creativity. 

For our Strava fanatics, there are places on offer in the Virgin Money London Marathon, four tickets to the opening night of Six Day cycling series at the Olympic Velodrome – where you will enjoy top seats in the middle of the track itself  – and VIP tickets to the 2020 Muller Anniversary Games.

The entertainment industry has followed suit with Hat Trick Productions providing just one of the many treats up for offer. Politics may have descended into satire but one lucky bidder will be able to seek refuge safe in the bosom of the Have I Got News For You green room. Theatre lovers can bid to attend a Bill Kenwright show. 

Avid sports memorabilia collectors can bid for a signed shirt from this summer’s cricket hero Ben Stokes , intimidate with a boxing glove signed by one of the sport’s greatest – Anthony Joshua or claim a prized signed shirt from the Premier League’s finest. 

Do dive in and have a look. We won’t give away all the treasures on offer. There is truly something for everyone and we are beyond grateful for the generosity and support afforded to the evening. 

Happy bidding. 

FWA Live North East Special – Thursday November 21

FWA Live North East Special – Thursday November 21

The FWA are delighted to announce an FWA Live North East Special in Durham on November 21, featuring leading personalities from the region’s big three clubs. Sunderland’s new manager Phil Parkinson will be on stage with former Manchester Untied and England defender Gary Pallister, representing his hometown club Middlesbrough, and Newcastle United will be sending a special guest.

The evening, organised by the FWA’s very generous title sponsors William Hill, will be hosted by BBC Radio commentator Ian Dennis and is sure to give a fascinating insight into what is going on at all three clubs. As ever there will be opportunities for audience participation in a Question Time-style format with the panel, which will also include prominent FWA members Simon Bird and Scott Wilson.

It will be held in the splendour of fhe Ramside Hall hotel, in Durham, and tickets are only £10 including a free drink from the link below:

Ken Jones remembered – by Norman Giller

KEN JONES, FORMER FWA CHAIRMAN, was laid to rest on October 22.  His friend Norman Giller reports:

“Ken Jones – the late, great Welsh sports bard Ken Jones – will not mind me telling this story about his funeral on October 22.  I promise it will lift your spirits.

Thanks to the meticulous planning of his daughter Lesley-Ann (an exceptional writer in her own right), we gave Ken a rousing Welsh send-off; Abide with me, of course Cwm Rhondda, a reading of Dylan Thomas’s Villanelle recorded by Richard Burton, and a suitably moving-mixed-with-Cockney-humour eulogy by doyen of boxing writers, Colin Hart. True, proud Welshman Ken certainly did not “go gentle into that good night.”

The final fond farewell was staged in front of a standing-room-only congregation of family, friends, gnarled old Fleet Street colleagues and – in particular for this story – two once-idolised international footballers who had been rivals on the football fields of the 50s and 60s … Ken’s flying winger cousin Cliff and 1966 World Cup hero George Cohen.

As the adorable Kathy Jones, Ken’s wife for the little matter of 64 years, led their small army of children and grandchildren out of the Chapel at Beckenham Crematorium, the focus of our attention – Ken – was still lying in his coffin. Kathy decided she did not want to see that chilling moment when the curtains close.

I found myself standing alongside the departed sportswriting master, reminiscing with Cliff and George, of whom both Ken and I had written about many times in the previous century when they were opposing each other for Tottenham and Fulham and England and Wales.

“I gave him a few kickings in our day,” George said with an old rascal’s smile as he leant on his zimmer frame that he uses like a chariot of fire.

“Come off it,” I said. “He was like greased lighting. You got nowhere near him.”

“Oh no,” said honest Cliff, “George was one of the few full-backs who was as quick as me. It was always a sprinting match when we payed against each other.”

Cliff, at 84, is still built like a Welsh whippet. “You look as if you could play for Spurs tomorrow,” I said.

“Yes,” agreed George, “I hope I am as fit as he is when I reach his age. I’m eighty today.”

This took a while to sink in. George Cohen. “Eighty today.” Arguably England’s greatest ever right back, and a true miracle man who has been fighting cancer since he was in his 30s. Eighty today.

He and Cliff – old rivals, old friends – hugged each other. Two champions of the football field united in octogenarianism.    

Instinctively, with Ken in his coffin behind me, I said aloud like a ring announcer to the hundred or so mourners who had not yet left the chapel: “Excuse me, friends, I know Ken will not mind me telling you this, but this man here – the great George Cohen – is eighty years old today. Eighty!”

Everybody loudly applauded in what was a surreal moment. And I swear I could hear Ken joining in the applause.

I later got a telling off from the lovely Lesley-Ann … not, I’m happy to say, for my appalling etiquette but for not calling the family back in so that they could have sung ‘happy birthday’ to George,

“My Dad would have loved that,” she said. “It’s just the sort of thing he would have done.”

I know, Lesley. Like Colin Hart, I travelled the world with him and he better than anybody knew a good story that needed telling.

This was too good a story not to tell. George Cohen eighty, and Cliff and Ken Jones there to share the joy.

Rest easy, old friend. And happy birthday, George.”

By Norman Giller

Vikki Orvice celebration night at Lord’s

Just a reminder that there are still a few tickets remaining for the gala night at Lord’s on November 13 to celebrate the life of our dear departed colleague Vikki Orvice.

Vikki sadly died of cancer in February after several years of treatment. We plan to spend the evening remembering the highlights of Vikki’s working life as a trailblazing sports journalist, while raising vital funds for the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, via auction and raffle. Many fantastic prizes have already been pledged, and there will be spectacular live music and entertainment, as well as superb food and drinks.
Vikki was the first female vice-chair of the FWA and a significant influence on our organisation over many years. She was a driving force for the changing face of the association in terms of inclusivity and we owe much to her pioneering spirit. This is your chance to pay your respects to Vikki while enjoying an evening of laughter and entertainment amongst colleagues and sportspeople.
Please click on the link below to buy your tickets for a three course meal with wine. You have the option to buy tickets on an individual basis or a table of 10. Sponsorship and corporate packages are also on sale directly via the link.
Every penny raised will support The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. 
For any queries, please contact the Royal Marsden’s special events manager, Emma Payne, on or 020 7811 8021.  We very much hope to see you at Lord’s on November 13th.

FWA Vanarama Golf Day winners

Kate Mason, one of the FWA’s newest members, was the proud winner of the Joe Melling Trophy at our annual golf day, sponsored by Vanarama, at Stoke Park on October 7th.

Kate, who left BeIn Sports to join Sky Sports News earlier this year, is relatively new to golf and was the only female player in this year’s event.

Playing in the Hayters team alongside Gerry Cox, Les Ferdinand and Jamie Weir, Kate scored 32 Stableford points, the highest individual score by an FWA member, edging Neil Silver into second place.

There was also debut success for Mike Keegan of the Mail, whose fourball won the team prize. Mike was also playing in the event for the first time, with former Barnsley chairman John Dennis, as well as Andrew Lane and Niall Ashworth from Vpar, who provided the live scoring system.

The individual non-FWA member’s prize went to Stephen Hunt, the former Reading and Republic of Ireland midfielder, who scored a superb 42 points from three-quarters handicap.

Other names from the world of football included former England internationals Steve Coppell, Kevin Phillips and Andy Sinton, ex-Scotland players Bryan Gunn and John Duncan, Matt Jansen, Wally Downes, Paul Clement, Lee Cook and Michael Gray.

The day was generously sponsored once again by Vanarama, whose team was led by marketing director Gary Lemon, and there was a presentation from Jake Martens of Prostate Cancer UK, as we remembered our great friend Ralph Ellis, who enjoyed and organised the event for so many years before he passed away last year.

Steve Bates and Gerry Cox of the FWA National Committee have taken over organisational duties. A substantial sum was also raised for Prostate Cancer UK, and further online donations can be made here:

For more about Vanarama visit:

For more on VPAR visit:

Rodrigo Lara of Hayters TV put together a video of the event: 

Jamie Weir, Kate Mason, Les Ferdinand and Gerry Cox of Team Hayters


Reid and Robson honoured by FWA

PETER REID and BRYAN ROBSON, two of England’s finest midfielders and later successful managers in the North East, were honoured as North East Legends by Football Writers’ Association on October 10th at the Ramside Hall in Durham.

The award is in recognition of the contribution the two men made as managers in North East football, as they helped to put Middlesbrough and Sunderland on the football map in the formative years of the Premier League.

Two of their most famous former players from Sunderland and Middlesbrough, Kevin Phillips and Nigel Pearson, paid tribute on the night, taking part in a Q&A session on stage with Simon Crabtree, one of the region’s most popular broadcasters.

After his record-breaking playing career with WBA, Manchester United and England, Robson went on to become player-manager of Boro. He later signed Phillips when he was manager of West Brom, his first club.

Shortly afterwards Peter Reid took over at Sunderland and led them from Roker Park to the Stadium of Light and into the Premier League.

In front of a sell-out audience, the two swapped stories about their days playiing against each other in youth football, then at senior level and also as England team-mates, before working closely as managers.

The evening, supported by our title sponsors William Hiill, was a great success and raised a considerable sum for charity.

Please visit our YouTube channel for interviews and footage from the evening.

Our thanks to Colin Young and Paul Hetherington for organising the evening, to Claire Stephen and staff at Ramside Hall, and to our sponsors William Hill.

Ken Jones – by Norman Giller

Ken Jones, our former Chairman and Life Member who has passed away at the age of 87, went back many years with Norman Giller, who recalls: 

“It was just a few weeks ago that I last saw my old mate Ken Jones and his lovely wife, Kathy.  We were at the memorial service for Hugh McIlvanney at St Bride’s in Fleet Street, and we made a pact. I told him: “I won’t come to your funeral, Ken, unless you come to mine. Ok?” I shook his left hand as he laughingly agreed.

There was no right hand to shake because he lost it in an appalling train accident twenty years ago. Ken being Ken, shrugged off the handicap, taught himself to become left handed and continued to write wise and often waspish words with which he decorated the sports pages of the Daily and Sunday Mirror, Observer and The Independent.

Now I have to break our agreement, and will sadly and respectfully  say goodbye to a true master of the press box.

He has passed on just weeks after the trio of sportswriting legends with whom he shared star status – McIlvanney, James Lawton and Steve Curry. What a quality quartet for the editorial staff Up There.

Ken I go back more than 60 years. I was just starting out on my writing adventure when he was serving his apprenticeship as a journalist with the Dixon and Hayters agencies in old Fleet Street. He had turned to sports reporting late in his 20s after an ankle injury had finished a promising football career.

The Jones boy followed his father Emlyn as a lively and inventive forward with Southend United. His Uncle Bryn had been a pre-war star with Arsenal and he had a chorus of cousins who were making names for themselves on the football roundabout, including Welsh Wizard Cliff Jones, now 84 and a living legend at Tottenham, where he remains idolised.

Ken had to scribble in the shadow of Fleet Street giants Peter Wilson and Frank McGhee at the Mirror, and earned his corn with a string of exclusives thanks to his myriad of close contacts in the village world of football.

From red-hot football reporter, he eventually emerged as an authoritative and balanced all-round sports columnist, particularly readable on football and boxing. He was three times chairman of the Football Writers’ Association, and honoured by the Sports Journalists’ Association with their highest award, the Doug Gardner trophy for the continued excellence of his writing.

We travelled the world together before I tunnelled my way out of Fleet Street, and he was always a good companion and revered rival who composed his articles with an in-depth knowledge that left his readers feeling they had been there at the ringside or pitchside with him.

Amazingly, Ken was not the best writer in his family. He would bow the knee to his daughter, Lesley-Ann Jones, who became a ceiling-breaking columnist in Fleet Street in the misogynist days when women had to be twice as good as the men to get a break.

My thoughts are with Kathy and Lesley as I sit and mourn the passing of a good friend, a super sportswriter and a lovely bloke. Sadly you won’t be able to come to my funeral.  Ffawelio hen ffrind.

Ken Jones, 1935-2019


My friend Ken – by Alex Montgomery

Alex Montgomery has added a fuller tribute to his great friend and colleague Ken Jones, who passed away this week.

“It was obvious when Ken phoned a few days ago that all was not well. Maybe as well as those of us in regular contact with him had been fearing. The voice was weak. Yes he had been in hospital. Again? I wasn’t certain of his reply.  He was ok now and no he had not watched the football. The wee Welsh terrier who would defend his beliefs with a tenacity that could shock was strangely benign. The call was short. That is not Ken Jones.

A call from him could occupy anything from half an hour minimum to two hours no maximum and would involve insights into his life as a youngster in Wales, his love of family,  his worship of the men he knew and who toiled for coal, his life as a youngster growing up in Birmingham when his folks moved there, his national service as a PE instructor and his desire to follow the family trade and become a professional footballer — an ambition he achieved.

He would tell stories about his first steps in journalism, a move that was lucky for him and eventually his papers, of reporting the great game that was so much part of his DNA.

On a good day and most of them were good he would recall matches and incidents going back to the sixties about his fellow players at Southend or wherever, of his managers, learning the game as a coach more thoroughly than any other journalist at the time.

He would slip in stories about Billy Nich at Spurs, Alf with England, of The Don at Leeds. None was for publication because it was private between him and them and would stay that way.  He would decide. He would fight his battles with his Fleet Street bosses though god knows he wouldn’t call them that. You didn’t boss Ken.  And anyway his papers would benefit from his unique knowledge over the many years he worked for them.

Ken was the most likeable of men, a man of strong views who would listen to all arguments. Fools? That’s different. Many is the fool who tested his patience and had no chance of being suffered gladly. These would include the occasional big sports name. Celebrity was no defence for Ken. 

He was the master of his craft, the finest of sportswriters who fitted comfortably into that elite group recognised as the greatest of their era – in his case any era.

Who else but Ken would take a phone call from Sir Alf Ramsey then manager of England after they had won the World Cup and be asked to estimate how many players he felt had the quality good enough to play for the country? Ken came up with the figure of thirty-five which he passed on. Alf said ‘thanks’ then added it was three more than he as England manager had on his list. 

Don Revie was an old and very close friend who made a point of meeting him whenever possible but always before Leeds United played in London. 

The Don would glean as much information as he could about this player and that and what was happening in the London scene.

Who else but Ken would be confidante to so many others at the very top of the game, players like Terry Venables and George Graham who set up a tailors business with him to supplement wages that were nothing like today’s earnings.

Ken has the distinction of being highly regarded on both sides of the fence; as a journalist and one whose opinion was sought by football insiders.

It was on Ken’s advice as an example, one of many, that Middlesbrough gambled – and it was a gamble at the time – on signing the young Graeme Souness from Spurs.

It was a far different game to report on back then than in these days, where press conferences now dominate and too few real friendships have the opportunity to develop.

To those of us football writers a generation behind him Ken was a towering professional figure and friend deeply respected, a man who, newspaper rivalry apart, operated an open house policy.

He would never be considered expansive in company, that wasn’t his style, which was dignified for sure.  But to listen to him in full flow with a fine wine on the table happily dispensing stories was one of the pleasures of the job.

He was generous, giving, a man who loved company and chat and would talk expertly and entertainingly on any sport – boxing and the majesty of Muhammed Ali would incite his senses – but especially football, a no-brainer for a man born into the Welsh mining family Jones that produced the likes of the great Cliff Jones.

Ken was one of the first journalists to make inroads on radio and television match reporting but it was his insightful writings and his brilliant columns for the Independent that will be remembered.

That and the courage of a man who lost an arm in a train accident that could have killed him and the very next day was on the phone to Terry Venables asking when they could fix a lunch date.

Ken refused to accept old age – he would have been 88 next month — as a reason for not travelling to London to meet old friends, although that became a trial for him in his last year. He missed our FOTY Dinner which as a former chairman and long standing member he considered unarguably one of the highlights of the season.

I can speak for many when I say Ken was special as a journalist and a man and will remain special not just for his family but all privileged to enjoy his company.”

Ken Jones RIP

We at the FWA are saddened to hear that our friend, colleague and former Chairman Ken Jones has passed away.

Ken came from the famous Jones family that produced his cousin, the former Tottenham and Wales winger Cliff Jones. He covered his cousin’s exploits with the all-conquering Spurs and then went on to cover England’s World Cup final win in 1966. His first-hand account is superbly told here:

Ken worked principally for the Mirror, Observer and The Independent, and was Chairman of the FWA for three successive years, from 1975 to 1978. He was also a very fine boxing writer, and there is another great piece on reporting here:

He was widely considered one of Fleet Street’s finest and will be much missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.

Full tributes to follow.



Vinnie Jones signs up to support life-saving partnership with Prostate Cancer UK which returns for a second season. 

  • For a second successive season, the top two tiers of non-league football have been given a rebrand by Vanarama in support of Prostate Cancer UK
  • The National League are charity partners of Prostate Cancer UK and sponsors Vanarama have signed up Britain’s favourite footy hard man Vinnie Jones to lead the fight against the most common cancer in men
  • Drive to save lives: Vanarama and Prostate Cancer UK want to raise money to beat a disease that kills one man every 45 minutes in the UK
  • Six-week name change sees Vinnie urge ‘proper football clubs’ and ‘proper supporters’ to raise ‘proper money’

The Vanarama National League, which sponsors the FWA’s annual Golf Day,  has once again changed its name in the opening half of the season – all for a great cause – Prostate Cancer UK. For a second successive season, the fifth and sixth tiers of the English game, including clubs like Notts County, Barnet and Wrexham, will be known as the MANarama National League until 9th November.

The League’s sponsors, van leasing company Vanarama, long-time supporters of Prostate Cancer UK, have again agreed to use their sponsorship in support of the leading men’s health charity. Last year, in an award-winning industry first, the National League rebranded mid-season with the ground-breaking MANarama campaign raising over £150,000 to help stop prostate cancer being a killer and earning a host of industry awards. From September to November this year, the forward-thinking firm will reprise their striking MANarama branding and will be working with all National League clubs to help them smash last year’s total.

To monitor fundraising progress, Vanarama has set up an alternative MANarama League table, which will track each National League club’s fundraising over the course of the campaign. In the drive to save lives, clubs raising cash for the cause will be in with a chance to win a brand-new minibus for the next three seasons. Hollywood hardman Jones, a former Wealdstone midfielder, has been signed up by Vanarama Chief Executive Andy Alderson to support the campaign this year.

Speaking about the campaign, Vinnie says: “I am beyond proud to back this MANarama campaign. It combines two things which are so important to me; grassroots football and fighting cancer. I started playing football in non-league so I know that these clubs are at the heart of local communities. I don’t need to explain why the fight against cancer is so important for me. Non-league football is proper football and I’d urge all non-league clubs and all the proper supporters out there to raise some proper money for this brilliant cause.”

Jones was at Vanarama’s head office in Hemel Hempstead on Tuesday afternoon with Prostate Cancer UK ambassador Kevin Webber and Errol McKellar, two men affected by the disease, who will play a key role in the campaign in another industry first in October.

The former FA Cup winner was visibly touched after hearing former mechanic Errol’s story and waved off ultra-marathon hero Webber as he set off on an epic walk to the live-on-BT Sports MANarama opener between Dover Athletic and FC Halifax Town on Saturday evening (5.20pm).

Webber will be a familiar face to BT Sports viewers after delivering the match ball on the final day of the MANarama campaign in October 2018, at Halifax, so in a fitting narrative will help kick off this season’s campaign.

Vanarama Chief Executive Andy Alderson, says: “The National League is the backbone of English football and we’re delighted to once again re-name it the MANarama League in support of our long-term partners Prostate Cancer UK. For many years we’ve stood side by side in the fight against prostate cancer and want the football world to come together and raise more money than we ever have before to help beat a disease killing one man every 45 minutes in the UK.”

National League Chief Executive Michael Tattersall, comments: “We were extremely pleased with the reaction to our temporary – and historic – rebranding to the MANarama National League during the 2018/19 campaign. It was fantastic to see so much money and awareness raised to aid the fight against prostate cancer. We are proud this will be taking place over a 45-day period for a second season.

“Prostate Cancer UK are our official charity partners and we couldn’t think of a charity that better reflects our football values. This deadly disease has no boundaries, so it’s been incredibly inspiring to see Kevin Webber raise so much awareness. He’s a remarkable man doing remarkable things and we will continue to stand alongside him, and everyone affected by prostate cancer.”

Prostate Cancer UK Chief Executive Angela Culhane, adds: “Last year’s brilliant MANarama campaign really caught the imagination and we’re delighted to strengthen our long-standing relationship with Vanarama ahead of another exciting few months. The fight against prostate cancer, a disease that kills one man every 45 minutes, is a purpose worth uniting for, and this fits in perfectly with our ‘Men, we are with you’ mantra;  Vanarama, The National League and the Non-League community getting together to do something amazing in our quest. Money raised will help us fund more ground-breaking research and find the tools needed for a screening programme, in order to catch more prostate cancers early and save more lives.”

One man dies every 45 minutes from prostate cancer meaning a staggering 1440 men will die from the disease during the MANarama campaign, highlighting just how important it is that more people are made aware of the most common cancer in men.

The campaign will also encompass Non-League Day on 12 October, an annual date on the football calendar, backed by Premier League and Championship clubs which this year celebrates a tenth anniversary. The day is always scheduled to coincide with an international break and provides a platform for clubs to promote the importance of non-league football.

For more information about the MANarama campaign, fundraising activity taking place through your local non-league club and prostate cancer information, visit the Vanarama (@Vanarama) and Prostate Cancer UK (@ProstateUK) Twitter feeds and the #GiveandGo