Steve Curry remembered – by Rob Shepherd

Steve Curry could have been a Shakespearian actor.

He often recited soliloquies and speeches from Henry V to Macbeth – via Coronation Street – word perfect and with a pitch that would have satisfied Richard Burton, from erudite lips poised above a Kirk Douglas chin.

There was a bit of Falstaff about Steve although his joie de vivre and self effacing humour sometimes resembled a lovable pantomime dame.

Growing up in Clitheroe, Lancashire the son of a school master, the world revolved around the working man’s theatre – football.

Steve was good at it. He made it to Bolton reserves but a broken leg brought that career path to an end. As it turned out, the initial pain, opened a colourful highway to the printed heights of what was then known as The People’s Game.

The pen rather than muddy boots became Steve’s sword.

Treading the boards he rose through the old school ranks of local papers, made it to the sports desk of the Daily Express’s then thriving Manchester office, then on to Fleet Street where the shackles of being a sub-editor were fully taken off and Steve was able display his considerable all round skills as a chief football writer and reporter, most notably for the Express, over three decades, in the days when it was the ‘go-to’ paper for sport.

Steve was also proud of his ‘elder statesman’ stints with the Sunday Telegraph, the Sunday Times and Daily Mail.

He was also became a highly opinionated and recognisable pundit on Sky and Talksport. No wonder. Steve was one of the best in the business.

His long time pal and colleague James Mossop painted the whole picture of Steve’s career and persona in suitable style on the FWA website.

It was football writers like Jim, Steve, Jeff Powell and Alex Montgomery who inspired me to have a shot at being a soccer scribe. Over the years Steve and I became particularly close despite the twenty-year age gap. He was like a favourite, sometimes fussy, uncle to me.

There are so many stories about Steve on and off the pitch. It’s fair to say Steve was what is now termed ‘old school’. Worked hard , played hard.

After copy had been filed Steve was a wonderfully convivial social animal. A favoured phrase of Steve’s at to waiters at dinner tables around the world, after the job had been done, was: “Pour till you get tired.”

Steve had a nose for the game as well as the vino. Aside from his considerable football writing skills, knowledge and thespian attributes Steve could also sing well, especially on the back of a bus transporting the troops from stadium to airport in the early hours after England and club games in far flung places.

He could do a decent Elvis or Sinatra but his real forte was Dean Martin’s “Little Old Wine Drinker Me.”

He was a fine wordsmith, top notch reporter but as a consequence of his gregarious character he was a great contacts man when contacts rather than computers were regarded as a prime tools of the trade for pressman. A mighty Colossus.

Steve knew the great, the good and even the bad and the ugly. If they weren’t around a dinner table or a bar, where Steve was a terrific story tell and raconteur – a Bard of Banter if you like – they were only a telephone call away.

If one vignette sums Steve up then it was during the 1990 World Cup. The day after England had drawn 0-0 with Holland – a game that changed not only the direction of Italia 90 for England but the future of English football – Bobby Robson, a firm friend of Steve’s, had the given the players a day off.

Some had joined Doug Ellis and Tranmere owner Peter Johnson for a party on a yacht which was anchored just off the Forte Village in Sardinia, where most of the English press corps were camped.

Those were the days when the press had better accommodation than the players. Another section of the squad decided to enjoy the facilities of the Forte Village.

I was walking from my bungalow on the way to the beach having filed several follow-ups when I stumbled upon a small group huddled in one of the snug bars.

Sitting there knocking back a few beers were the injured Bryan Robson, Terry Butcher, Chris Waddle and Steve Curry, alongside his main running mate at the time, Colin Gibson of the The Telegraph.

Steve summoned me to join them. Talk about being in the company of giants. But of course it was Steve who was holding court despite the fact the Gang of Three were explaining, with the use of beer mats and pepper pots, how they had persuaded Bobby Robson to change tactics and adopt a sweeper system in order the get the best out of Paul Gascoigne, who eventually joined us, dripping wet having swum to shore from the boat party.

It was all off the record of course, especially after Gazza seconded a bike then went missing for a few hours (now that’s another story). But the players were happy for that story to be run as long as they were not quoted and it was portrayed more as a revolution rather than a revolt. And we kept quiet about Gazza.

It made a back page exclusive splash the next day for those of us in the circle. It’s how it worked back then and Steve, along with certain other doyens of that era, had long been a master of that form of journalism.

Shortly after Steve’s beloved son Mike, who became a TV producer for Sky Sports, rang me on Tuesday to tell me of Steve’s sudden death I rang Robbo, once the tears had subsided.

Now while Steve was weaned on The Busby Babes and often cited Duncan Edwards as his hero, along with Tom Finney – he adored Bryan Robson aka Captain Marvel.

Bryan was genuinely shocked and saddened. “Steve was one of the great troupers. Aye, there were ups and downs between us players and the press boys back in those days but with Steve, along with some others, we knew he was passionate, genuine and honest. There was respect. So sorry to hear. I’ll ring and tell gaffer,” said Robbo.

The gaffer, of course, being Sir Alex Ferguson.

Fergie told me,” was one of Steve’s many memorable phrases, up there with “Now let me tell you,” or “By the Way.”

Steve had a great working relationship with Sir Alex, as he did with so many  players and managers down the years – Moore, Best, Law, Ramsey, Robson (both Bryan and Bobby) all the way through to Lineker and Beckham.

Peter Reid was another. After speaking to Robbo I rang Reidy. “Gutted to hear that, pal. I’ve known Steve since I was a baby. Aye, he never tired of telling me of his Bolton days as a player. He was one of the good guys. Great lad,” said Peter.

Sam Allardyce and Harry Redknapp expressed similar sentiments.

Last Sunday (August 11) Steve watched his beloved Manchester United beat Chelsea 4-0 on the opening day of this new season at his local cricket club in Weybridge.

There was, of course, Chardonnay on hand and an audience eager to hear Steve’s opinions and anecdotes.

A few hours later Steve suffered a massive neurological trauma and after being rushed to hospital soon passed away peacefully. In a sense this lovely, generous man, who was so proud of his roots, not ashamed to admit he went to school in clogs, died with his boots on.

For so many in and around the football and media world he will be sorely missed but never forgotten.

It was Ken Bates who perhaps summed it up best when I broke the news to him while he was having dinner in Monaco with his wife Susannah – both great friends of Steves and his wife Carol. Ken said: “ So sad, upset, but I’ll tell you this; the world was a better place for Steve moving through it.”

See you at The Far Post pal.

Love Shep.

Steve Curry – by Neil Harman

A tribute to Steve Curry by Neil Harman, who was his competitor, colleague and close friend for more than 30 years.


My father was a broadsheet Daily Express man through and through. He never bought any other newspaper. When I was an upstart kid reporter on the Southend Evening Echo in the 1970s, the Daily Mail’s stringer Alf Smirk, used to tell me I’d write for the paper one day. Dad told me I should aspire to write for the Express.

In 1981, my life totally changed. I was despatched to Manchester as a fledging football reporter on the Mail in their northern office. I lived and breathed football in that neck of the woods, United under Ron Atkinson, City under John Bond and Billy McNeill, Blackburn, Bolton, Bury, Burnley, Stockport, Crewe, these were ‘my’ teams.

The chief writer in the north for the Express was the wonderful Derek Potter. We had terrific writers as well, Peter Johnson, Derick Allsop, Colin Wood, Bill Mallinson, Doug Weatherall. The Express was unbelievable. It had to be read. They had Alan Thompson and Peter Thomas, the voices of the north. Their top man in London was a fellow called Curry. But we had Jeff Powell. Quite a battle ensued.

In 1990, much to my astonishment, I was appointed the Mail’s chief football writer, succeeding Jeff. The main opposition would be Curry of the Express, a man who had consummate contacts, a lifelong devotion to his sport, knew everyone, and would quite possibly write me into oblivion very quickly.

We were 15 years apart in years and eons in experience. Not only was Steve the kingpin at the Express, the Mirror had Harry Harris, the Sun Alex Montgomery, the Guardian David Lacey, the Telegraph Colin Gibson, Today Rob Shepherd and the Times Stuart Jones. The Star’s Tony Quested was an unknown force but here I was, a Mail tennis correspondent about to be tossed to the sharks.

Graham Taylor had become the England manager post 1990 World Cup and I sensed a chance, because through the matches Lincoln had played against Southend in the olden Fourth Division days and, I suspect, because he was new to international football and so was I, we struck a bit of an accord. But still, it was going to be an uphill struggle.

Whether Steve took pity on me or not, I’m unsure. He admonished me for attending Bubbling Brown Sugar at the Birmingham Hippodrome with Graham, his wife Rita and my wife, Maureen. ‘Shouldn’t do that,’ he said. I thought he might have been becoming a bit rattled because I knew the England manager possibly as well if not better than he did. This could be my chance.

It was to be the only time Steve would have a bad word for me in our careers together. I say ‘together’ because we shared hundreds of car journeys north, hotels, press boxes, would sit in the same front row in on planes when Graham insisted the media travelled in the front row of England flights because he didn’t trust us if he couldn’t see us.

There were a group of football No.1s who gloried under the banner ‘The Morris Men.’ Colin Gibson, then the Telegraph’s lead man, loved to be the organiser, Steve was his best pal, they recruited Harry because he might drop them the occasional tale and liked to have his life organised by someone else and Stuart Jones because he was incapable of organising his own life. In 1990, they [kind of] recruited me. Safety in numbers!!

Thus, on England’s tour of Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia in 1991, the European Championships in 92, the World Cup in 94, and Euro 96, Gibbo was the chef de mission and we all fell into line. As such, I spent more time with Steve than anyone else because we bonded so well.

It is hard to explain to the writers of today but when we travelled with teams, be they club or international we struck an exquisite partnership. The Express and the Mail were sworn enemies in print but Steve and I never let that affect our personal relations. We sat together, ate together, partied together, drank together, sang together, hugged each other, as if we were brothers.

We got up to some terrible mischief but I worried that he would have the story I wanted in the next day’s Express and I’d like to think he thought the same as me on the Mail. He was really pissed off if I was invited onto Hold The Back Page [BskyB’s entry into the world of writer’s forums and the forerunner of Sunday Supplement ] rather than he was. He never really got over the fact that I appeared in the first ever edition of the programme with the late Brian Woolnough.

In essence, Steve was a brilliant football reporter. He could walk into any company and be welcomed. I was envious of that. His fellow reporters loved, admired and feared him in equal measure. I was envious of that. But he never indulged his own popularity. It sat very comfortably with him. If he pulled a story, as he often did, you knew it was going to be spot on because Steve didn’t indulge in fantasies.

I could write a thousand Steve stories here. The karaoke night with Kevin Keegan, the dinner table rows in New York and Washington, the endless white wine evenings at Euro 92 with Richard Moller Nielsen, the Eric Cantona interview two days before the infamous Crystal Palace kung-fu kick, the dance floors in Romania, the round of golf with Bobby Moore, the famous ‘dive’ beneath a jetty at a hotel in Sweden and, so much more important to me, the pep-talks when I lost my job at The Times.

We lived together, we drank together, we worked together, we played together and we lived life together. He was the consummate reporter and travelling companion. The Express loved him and with very good reason. He was the best opponent a reporter could ever have. I am so pleased to have spent so much of my life with him and to have had a last drink with him a couple of months back. David Platt joined us that night, which made it very special indeed.

‘They’re praying for rain in California……’

Night Steve.

Steve Curry – more tributes

Tributes have been flowing for Steve Curry, our friend, colleague and former FWA Chairman, who has passed away after a short illness at the age of 76:

Norman Giller, his former Express colleague and friend, tweeted: “Reeling from news of Steve Curry’s passing. We were close colleagues at the Express. One of the best contacts men in the football reporting business and a great raconteur. We were together recently and I jokingly mocked him for being overweight. A good man.”

Paul McCarthy, former FWA Chairman and Express football correspondent, said: “Desperately saddened to hear of the passing of Steve Curry. To spend time in his company was to live life to the fullest but also to know what it meant to be a ferociously combative reporter of the highest order. No night was complete until there had been another rendering of ‘Little Old Wine Drinker, Me’ or the re-telling of one of the great jokes ‘the flowers in your garden…’

“To those who travelled the globe with Steve, he was hard-bitten but magnificent fun. To those of us who learnt from him, his life was measured in trust, contacts and great stories. After that, the enjoyment could begin. Cantankerous, argumentative and obstreperous – he could be all those things. But he was extremely loyal and a trusted companion who loved the rough and tumble of getting a story but never let it get in the way of friendship. He will be missed. His generation of reporters lived the greatest of lives and they were genuinely grateful for everything the job gave them. RIP Steve.”

Steve Bates, another former FWA Chairman, colleague and friend tweeted: “Very sad to hear news that Steve Curry passed away earlier today One of the big characters in Fleet Street’s hey-day and beyond, always good company and a wonderful raconteur. Condolences to wife Carol and son Mike. RIP.”

Mike Parry, former Express sports editor added: “I am absolutely shocked to learn of the death of Daily Express legend Steve Curry. When I was a young reporter on the Express Steve was forever helpful and supportive. Terrific professional and all round bloody good guy and my sincerest condolences to all of his family.”

John Cross: “RIP Steve Curry. Always nice to me when I first came into the business all those years ago. Fleet Street legend with a devilish smile and a great sense of humour.”

Gerry Cox, former Chairman of the FWA: “Very sad news. I grew up reading Steve Curry and the other great sports reporters from the Express in its heyday, and got to know him later as a friend and a colleague. A sad loss. Our prayers and thoughts are with his family and friends.”

“So sad to hear of the passing of Steve Curry. A guiding light to me for years. Even a triple by-pass years ago didn’t deter him. One of the best in the business, and also one of the nicest, a very rare combination today. Always supportive of me, a wonderful person.” John Ley, FWA membership secretary and former Telegraph colleague.

“Steve Curry was a very warm man a very good journalist. Brilliantly old school. RIP” James Corrigan, Telegraph golf correspondent

“Very sad to learn the news that veteran football reporter Steve Curry has passed away. A regular guest on SkyNews, Steve became a good friend. Always great company and I’ve many fond memories of trips to La Manga together. Condolences to Carol. RIP Steve.” Ian Woods, Sky News

“Another great sports journalist has gone. Steve Curry was a blisteringly sharp reporter for the Daily Express and a colleague I always looked forward to meeting on the many trips we conducted round the world writing about the sport we loved. RIP, Steve.” Matt Driscoll

A Daily Express and Fleet Street legend. RIP Steve Curry” Mike Allen, Mirror sports editor

Sad news. Great character. Always kind and welcoming. Good memories from England on tour with all the English media.” Erik Bielderman, L’Equipe.

Desperately sad news. A true legend of sports journalism and a great supporter of Weybridge Cricket Club. Was with him on Sunday in fine spirits and looking forward to his holiday. RIP Steve, you’ll be missed.” Oliver Slipper, founder Perform Group.

“Very sad news. I enjoyed an impromptu pint with Steve, Jim Mossop and Andy Dunn ahead of this year’s FWA. He was in fine form, extolling his views as in his own indomitable way. A formidable Fleet Street writer, great debater and marvellous company.  Steve will be greatly missed. Sincere condolences to Carol and all of Steve’s family. RIP.” Adrian Bevington, former FA executive

Steve Curry, RIP

STEVE CURRY 1942 – 2019

It is with deep sadness that we learn of the passing of Steve Curry.

Steve was one of the great larger-than-life characters of our industry as well as a former FWA Chairman and Life Member. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his wife Carol and all his family. Steve passed away after a short illness.

His friend and colleague James Mossop has written this tribute:

“Superlative journalist, whimsical companion, friend of football: Steve Curry was all that and more. His endless qualities glowed throughout the many years so many of us knew and admired him.

“Players and administrators entrusted him with their thoughts, hopes and apprehensions. His years at the Daily Express were dappled with exclusives.

“He was a marvellous fellow traveller too, especially in those days when we Fleet Street men travelled on the same charter aircraft as the England team. He had a fine singing voice and standing in the aisle, would give his finest, with a song about “Old Shep” being one particular party piece.

“Not many knew that in his early days as a junior reporter he had been a proud member of the Youth Theatre and he would become quite animated if he heard one of us deliberately misquoting Shakespeare. Off he would go in true Thespian mode, raising his voice to give us the full soliloquy without a flaw.

“In his work he had contacts in every area of the sport. He was always greeted with affection by players in the team hotel. He had known many of them since their youth football days. The late Ray Wilkins, in particular was always a trusted friend.

“If there was a political issue within football Steve knew the men and their numbers and was able to draw ‘off the record’ briefings from the right people.

“It would be hard to find a more amiable, and occasionally argumentative, dinner companion wherever we happened to be in the world.

“After the Express he took his talent to the Sunday Telegraph and produced an instant exclusive revealing that the famous Twin Towers of Wembley were to be demolished. It was the first of many scoops.

“Sadly Steve, a former chairman of the FWA, has left us. Right now there is an emptiness in many, many hearts. It will slowly ease and we will find consolation in remembering the career and the style of our friend of the human race.”


More tributes to follow. You can read this interview with Steve from 2012:

Racism, club ownership and City to retain their title – FWA Live

Our latest FWA LIve event at the Landmark London on August 6 was a huge success, with a wide range of topics discussed by our panel in front of a packed house.

Chris Hughton, Simon Jordan and Teddy Sheringham were our special guests from the world of football, and joined FWA Chair Carrie Brown and Times football correspondent Henry Winter on a panel hosted by Gerry Cox, former Chairman of the FWA.

The first 45 minutes involved a panel discussion on the likely winners of this season’s Premier League (Manchester City were overwhelming favourites), transfer dealings this summer, the fates of the newly-promoted clubs and how Frank Lampard and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will fare.

After a short break, panellists took questions from the 100 or so guests, resulting in lively and revelatory discussions about racism, club ownership, the difficulties of management and more.

The event was streamed live on Facebook thanks to our title sponsors William Hill, and you can see the first 45 minutes on the FWA’s Facebook page here:

And a substantial sum was raised for our charity Alzheimer’s Society.  See the great work they are doing on research into a disease that increasingly affects not only football but society as a whole

(Left to right) Gerry Cox Former Chairman of FWA/Hayters TV, Chris Hughton Former Brighton Manager, Simon Jordan Former Crystal Palace Owner & Broadcaster, Teddy Sheringham, Carrie Brown FWA Chair and Henry Winter  of The Times.

Simon Jordan, Former Crystal Palace Owner & Broadcaster, and Teddy Sheringham during the FWA Live Season Preview at The Landmark Hotel, London.

Carrie Brown- FWA Chair and Henry Winter of The Times during the FWA Live Season Preview at The Landmark Hotel, London.

Chris Hughton, Former Brighton Manager, during the FWA Live Season Preview at The Landmark Hotel, London.

General view during the FWA Live Season Preview at The Landmark Hotel, London.

Growing Women’s Football – Panel this Thursday 11th

50 per cent discount on tickets for FWA members.

Carrie Brown, FWA Chair, will be taking part this Thursday 11th July in a panel discussion about Growing Women’s Football following the successful World Cup in France this summer.

The event, hosted by Snack Media’s Digital Sport, will be held at the office of law firm Howard Kennedy, near London Bridge from 17.30 to 21.30 .

Tickets are available from the following link and there is a 50 percent discount for FWA members who enter the Promo code: FWA50

Tickets here:

Carrie is moderating a panel that also includes representatives from:

Twitter – Bruna Zanin-Juresic, Global Sports Partnerships
Visa – Adrian Farina, Head of Marketing, Europe
Engine Sport – Lisa Parfitt, Managing Director
Endeavor – Robin Clarke, SVP International

Footballers of the Year Sterling and Parris

Raheem Sterling and Nikita Parris made it a win double for Manchester City and England as they collected their Footballer of the Year and Women’s Footballer of the Year awards at our gala dinner on Thursday night.

The two strikers won the Football Writers’ Association awards for their outstanding work on and off the pitch this season, and were presented with their honours by our new Chair Carrie Brown.

‘It’s a massive achievement, a massive honour,’ said Sterling. ‘To be recognised is always a lovely feeling, especially by the writers. It makes it even more special.

‘It is an award that I will cherish, especially with the people that have won it before me so I am really, really glad and proud.’

Sterling collected 62 per cent of the poll by FWA members and beat Liverpool centre-back Virgil Van Dijk to the award by over 100 votes.

Sterling is the first Manchester City player in 50 years to win the FWA Footballer of the Year award, following on from Tony Book sharing the accolade with Derby’s Dave Mackay.

‘Precept and example’ have long been considered when voting for the award – values that Sterling boasts in abundance.

Put to him that he has had a bit of an up and down time with the media in the recent years, Sterling said: ‘Yeah, it’s one of those where I take full responsibility as well because it’s my first time being a professional and everyone makes mistakes, especially being young and not quite understanding what goes on in and around football with the media.

‘As you get older, you mature and understand things much better and I think now people can see me for who I am.

‘Role model, not in terms of saying you set out to be a role model but just in terms of leading by example.

‘You have young kids who do follow you and do look up to you, and you need to try and set the right example for them and the next generation coming through for sure.

‘Certain subjects that I have spoken about this season has been touchy but at the same time I thought it was needed and I tried to do my best to address it in a positive (way) and not come across aggressive or ignorant.’

Thursday night was a double celebration for City as England striker Nikita Parris collected the FWA Women’s Footballer of the Year.

‘It feels amazing to be voted for by the Football Writers’ Association,’ she said. ‘I am really grateful for the award and I hope the night is special, with two Manchester City players getting the award. Many congratulations to Raheem, I think he has been fantastic this year.

‘It has been a fantastic season for us, winning two trophies and will really be fighting for that league trophy next year. It is a fantastic time for women’s football and the England team.’

(Photos PA/Steve Paston)


Vanarama Column – Season wrap

Vanarama column (season’s wrap-up) – by Glenn Moore

A gripping Vanarama National League season comes to a climax at the weekend with a quintet of play-off finals to earn promotion into and out of the league’s three divisions. Topping the bill is Saturday’s Wembley clash between two upwardly mobile north-west clubs, Fylde and Salford, with the winner joining champions Leyton Orient in the Football League.

While Orient are a long-established Football League returning reborn after two seasons in non-League the Coasters and Ammies have each achieved a series of rapid promotions after being backed by millionaires. Salford, who are seeking back-to-back promotions, are better known due to their connection with, and television series on, Manchester United’s Class of 92, but Fylde’s rise is no less remarkable.

As recently as 2008 the pair were in the North West Counties League (Fylde were then still known as Kirkham & Wesham). By 2012 they were playing each other in the Northern Premier League North. Fylde reached tier 6 (National League North) in 2014, Salford two years later. Neither had been at that level before. Fylde will return to Wembley the following weekend for the FA Trophy final against Leyton Orient.

Should Fylde win they would become the first club to win both the FA Vase and FA Trophy, having won the former (open to team from tiers 9-11) in 2008 as Kirkham & Wesham. Should Orient win they will be the first to do the non-League double since Wycombe Wanderers, in 1993, under a promising young manager named Martin O’Neill.

Perhaps underlining the need to seize the moment Fylde are the only one of the five teams to fall in last season’s play-offs to qualify this year. One of the others, Aldershot, were relegated.

Sunday brings a brace of play-offs to gain entry into the Vanarama National League. Chorley, long-time leaders of the North division, overcame their disappointment at being pipped by Stockport County to earn a home tie against Spennymoor, both reaching the final through a penalty shoot-out. The southern final pits Woking, aiming to bounce back at the first attempt, against Welling. Torquay United, after a dramatic revival under Gary Johnson, won the division.

With two former Football League clubs in Torquay and Stockport coming into the division, and Notts County and Yeovil coming down, next season’s Vanarama National League promises to be a well-supported and highly competitive one. Half the section will be ex-Football League clubs.

Lower down a couple of big clubs return to the competition with Kettering Town and Weymouth earning promotion to Vanarama National Leagues North and South respectively. Dorking Wanderers, a club that began as a parks team just 20 years ago, also come up along with Farsley Celtic and the winners of Saturday’s ‘super play-offs’. Warrington host Kings Lynn while Tonbridge Angels visit Metropolitan Police (who are run and managed by police officers, but usually field ‘civilian’ players).

A record two million-plus watched the League’s three divisions with Orient the leading crowd pullers with an average 5,445. Good backing for Wrexham (5,056) and Chesterfield (4,503) helped build an average 1,975 in the National League. Stockport (4,002) and Torquay (2,508) topped the regional averages underlining when it comes to attracting fans nothing succeeds like success.

Ups & Downs

Vanarama National League:
Promoted (into Football League): Leyton Orient plus winner of Salford v Fylde (Wembley, May 11)
Relegated: Aldershot Town, Braintree Town, Havant & Waterlooville, Maidstone United
Relegated into National League (from Football League): Yeovil Town, Notts County

Vanarama National League North:
Promoted: Stockport County plus winner of Chorley v Spennymoor Town (May 12)
Relegated: Ashton United, FC United of Manchester, Nuneaton Borough
Promoted into Vanarama National League North: Farsley Celtic, Kettering Town plus winner of Warrington v Kings Lynn (May 11)

Vanarama National League South:
Promoted: Torquay United plus winner of Woking v Welling (May 12)
Relegated: Truro City, East Thurrock United, Weston-super-Mare
Promoted into Vanarama National League South: Dorking Wanderers, Weymouth plus winner of Metropolitan Police v Tonbridge Angels (May 11)

FA Trophy Final: Leyton Orient v Fylde (Wembley, 19 May)

Sterling and Parris at the double in FWA awards

Raheem Sterling is the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year 2019, and in a unique double for Manchester City and England, Nikita Parris is the FWA’s Women’s Footballer of the Year.

Sterling, the City and England forward was a clear winner in the vote of over 400 FWA members, taking 62 per cent of the poll and 100 votes more than Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk. His fellow City forward Sergio Aguero placed third.

Other players to receive votes from FWA members were, in alphabetical order: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal), Bernardo Silva and David Silva (Manchester City).

Sterling, 24, becomes the first Manchester City winner of football’s oldest individual award, first handed out in 1948, for 50 years since defender Tony Book shared the 1969 accolade with Derby’s Dave Mackay.

An integral part City’s battle with Liverpool for the Premier League title, Sterling has also received widespread praise for his courageous stance taken against racism in the game.

The England forward has scored 29 goals for club and country this season, helping drive Gareth Southgate’s side to the UEFA Nations League finals and an impressive start in Euro 2020 qualifying.

Sterling, who could yet also end up with an FA Cup winners’ medal, will be presented with the Sir Stanley Matthews Trophy at the 2019 Footballer of the Year dinner, to be held at the Landmark Hotel in London on May 9.

Newly-elected FWA Chair Carrie Brown said: “Raheem Sterling is a player of style and a man of substance.

“More than 70 years ago Charles Buchan, one of the founding fathers of the Footballer Writers’ Association, suggested there be an award presented to the player who by “precept and example” is considered the Footballer of the Year.

“Raheem Sterling is an exemplar of the talent and values our founding fathers sought to reward when they established the FWA in 1947.

“To have been voted the 2019 Footballer of the Year by our members, and with such an overwhelming majority, clearly acknowledges the contribution from a player over one season

but it also recognises the huge impact of Raheem’s courage to challenge preconceptions and fight racism, which will leave a legacy not just for future generations in football but society as a whole. Eyes have been opened, voices found, we are listening and will be at the forefront of the continued drive for equality.

“On the pitch, Raheem has evolved into one of the most dangerous forwards in the world. A player long admired for his tactical intelligence, link-up play and quick feet has now added a devastating finish to his game. The Manchester City forward’s Champions League opener against Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium drew comparisons with Lionel Messi’s goal against Manchester United. Are we approaching a time where Barcelona’s maestro will be forced to  cast a watchful glance over his dropped shoulder at the rising star of Sterling?

“Raheem didn’t set out to be a leader, but he is setting examples in society and in the game which the world is following with interest.

I look forward to presenting him with the Sir Stanley Matthews Trophy on May 9.”

Nikita Parris will also collect her accolade at the gala event. The 25-year-old City and England forward succeeds fellow England striker Fran Kirby, who won the inaugural award last May.

Parris won by the narrowest of margins from Arsenal & Netherlands striker Vivianne Miedema.

The award is decided by a two-stage poll of a panel of experts. The pair emerged as the clear favourites from the first phase, Parris polling one extra vote as both gained at least ten votes more than the next contender. Parris then won by a single vote (11-10) in the second stage.

Steph Houghton, England and Manchester City captain, was third. Other votes in the first stage were cast for Beth Mead, Danielle van de Donk, Leah Williamson (all Arsenal), Magdalena Ericsson, Erin Cuthbert, Karen Carney, Fran Kirby (all Chelsea), Georgia Stanway (Man City), Lucy Bronze (Lyon) and Toni Duggan (Barcelona).

Toxteth-born Parris has been a dynamic and deadly presence in attack for Manchester City and England since joining from Everton in 2015. This season her goals and assists have helped her club to the Women’s FA Cup final, which is at Wembley this Saturday (May 4), and to victory in the Continental Tyres Cup. The FAWSL’s all-time record goalscorer, she was also a key figure in England’s She Believes Cup triumph earlier this year.

Off the field, Parris has joined with the City of Liverpool College to set up the NP17 Football Academy providing sports qualification to students.