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.

Give Something Back – Dec 14-16

A reminder that this weekend we are hoping to Give Something Back in press boxes throughout the country. The FWA is teaming up with clubs and charities for the homeless and hungry.  Executive Secretary Paul McCarthy explains below:

“Dear Member,

“Those of you who cover Premier League football will have benefitted hugely from the generosity of the pre-match food and drink on offer. As a way of saying a small ‘thank you’ and especially in the build-up to Christmas, the FWA are attempting to put a little back.

“For the matches on December 14, 15 and 16, we will put collection boxes in all Premier League press rooms as part of our ‘Give Something Back’ initiative. All we’re asking members (and other journalists who are not FWA affiliated) is to donate at least £5 to go towards charities supporting food banks and homeless shelters.

“Once all the proceeds have been collected, we will distribute the amount evenly amongst the 20 clubs with the stipulation that amount is donated towards the most applicable food bank or homeless charity within their community.

“This effort has the support of the Premier League who have generously agreed to match whatever sum is raised and I hope that you would be able to give it your fullest support. Please dig deep and help out those less fortunate than ourselves at this time of year.”


Paul McCarthy

Executive Secretary

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:  http://footballwriters.co.uk/news/interview-news/giving-alan-ball-a-piggy-back-after-the-1966-world-cup-win-drinks-with-ronnie-biggs-and-praying-for-the-phone-to-ring/

Carrie Brown becomes first female Chair of the FWA

CARRIE BROWN has succeeded Paddy Barclay as Chair of the Football Writers’ Association, the first woman to hold the role and the first female chair of a major football organisation.

Carrie, who is Senior Sports Correspondent for beIN Sport, was elected unanimously at the FWA’s Annual General Meeting on April 23.

She has been an FWA member for more than ten years and an active member of the National Executive Committee for the past two years.

Carrie said: “It was first a considerable source of pride simply to be considered for membership of the Football Writers’ Association over a decade ago. In the past two years, I have witnessed and been wholly impressed by the drive and determination of Paddy to promote diversity within the FWA and especially among the Executive Committee. Today, I am honoured to have been voted into the role of Chair but accept the position in the knowledge this role should have been taken by our late vice-chair Vikki Orvice.

“Vikki was an early and ever-present support and role model in my career. I will not try to emulate or follow her path but I do hope I can make her and our members proud.”

Paddy Barclay has overseen a huge rise in the number and diversity of members over the past few years, and the FWA now has 430 full members and over 100 student members, as well as a mentoring scheme for young journalists.

Paddy said: “Carrie will continue and enhance the development of the FWA in every sense. She has made a great impact on the organisation in a relatively short time and yet the energy she has put into this crucial contribution to our modernisation is balanced by a respect for history.

“Yes, we have made progress in terms of membership and, within that, diversity. But within the next few years progress will harden into true, undeniable and irrevocable character. Nothing could make me more sure of that than the election of Carrie Brown.”

Also leaving the National Committee after more than 20 years is Mike Collett, the former global editor of football for Reuters. Mike has served the FWA with distinction, not least in researching the history of the association back to its founding fathers in 1947. Just recently Mike sourced a collection of memorabilia from the family of Ivan Sharpe, Chairman for the the FWA’s first six years, and handed it over to the National Football Museum, who will have a permanent exhibition space dedicated to the FWA.

Joining the National Committee in their place are three members who demonstrate the association’s drive for diversity in terms of age, ethnicity and gender. Alyson Rudd of The Times has been a mainstay of newspaper football coverage for over 20 years, Kelly Cates of Sky and BBC Radiio is a highly-respected broadcaster, and Joel Beya from Cheeky Sport represents the new wave of multimedia journalists in the digital world.

Their recruitment to the National Committee follows that of Sam Cunningham of The I newspaper, Darren Lewis of the Mirror, Jonathan Liew of the Independent and broadcaster Jacqui Oatley, who have all joined in the past year.

You can see Carrie’s first interview as Chair of the FWA here: https://youtu.be/S-s-xMGkymA

FWA AGM – Tuesday April 23

The Annual General Meeting of the Football Writers’ Association will be held at noon on Tuesday April 23 at The Old Bank of England, Fleet Street. 

 All National Committee members seeking re-election must attend or give a minimum 72 hours notice of apology.

All FWA members are welcome.  Please let Executive Secretary Paul McCarthy know if you wish to attend.


Vikki Orvice – a Celebration of her Life.

“If anyone comes to my funeral…”

She need not have worried. Vikki Orvice had written those words in the eulogy she had composed for herself, and was read out by her husband Ian Ridley at St Leonard’s Church Flamstead, on a beautiful, unseasonally sunny day in February.

“They came, Vikki, oh they came,” replied Ian later that day on Twitter.

Indeed we did. Hundreds turned up at the tiny church high on a hill in Hertfordshire, sitting and standing inside St Leonard’s and even filling the overflow marquee set up outside, with a live stream of the service.

And what a service it was. Vikki, determined not to let Ian have the last word, had helped plan her own funeral, but she would not have believed how beautifully this celebration of her life would play out.

The village of Flamstead played host for a day to the cream of British sportswriting, superstars of sport and the many, many friends and family who loved Vikki and owed her so much.

Paula Radcliffe, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Adam Gemili and Dina Asher-Smith were among the athletes who came to pay their final respects, as well as footballers Tony Adams and Alan Smith. A special guest, representing Vikki’s beloved Sheffield United, was the great Tony Currie, her ‘first love’ as Ian put it, and an inspirational figure.

Her colleagues from The Sun, past and present, turned out in force, and there were dozens of other friends from the world of journalism. The FWA, SJA, Women in Football, the British Athletics Writers’ Association were among those heavily represented, and we were all treated to a service that was emotional on so many levels – poignant, funny, sad, irreverent, moving and above all, inspirational.

Vikki set the tone with her own words, penned in the days before her death earlier this month, and with her distinctive voice coming through loud and clear. “The control freak in me would not let Ian have the last word,” she wrote, and you could picture her smile.

Ian then delivered his own eulogy, pitch perfect and wrought with emotion. Jacqui Oatley read a loving tribute from Seb Coe, who shared a love of Sheffield and sport with Vikki.

The Desire Gospel Singers performed “O Happy Day”, “I Say a Little Prayer”, and “Something Inside so Strong”, bringing the house down. It was inspirational stuff, and barely a dry eye in the house.

Ian signed off with the words “Goodbye, my Saturday girl,” and a final kiss.

The exit music was “The Way You Look Tonight”, played beautifully by Ian’s daughter Alex, and we all processed through the village to the cemetery where Vikki was laid to rest, with the sun shining, birds singing, and the first daffodils of spring starting to flower around us.

It had been 90 minutes from start to finish – Vikki would have loved that. She would have loved the outpouring of affection and anecdotes that followed over tea and sandwiches, in the village she called home.

Ian summed it up perfectly in a tweet later that night:

“Well, that was emotional. They came, Vikki. Oh, they came. Proud of you, as were the village, your family, friends, colleagues and the sporting good and the great.

“Goodnight my Saturday girl.”

Vikki Orvice – a tribute by Jacqui Oatley

Jacqui Oatley, the broadcaster, was brought on to the FWA’s National Committee by Vikki Orvice, who passed away today at the age of 56.  Here is Jacqui’s tribute to her friend and our dear colleague.



There was only one Vikki Orvice. That’s clear from the many tributes which have poured in from journalists and senior sporting figures alike following the desperately sad news of our beloved colleague’s passing. Taken from us by cancer at the age of 56, but not before she’d squeezed every drop out of life and found humour in even the darkest of days.

This funny, strong Yorkshirewoman and fiercely loyal friend was unrivalled in her experience, yet did everything in her power to draw others alongside her.

Vikki had been a member of the Football Writers’ Association since the mid-1990s, joining the national committee in 2015 and becoming vice-chair two years ago. Holding the belief that change must come from within, she was also a committee member of the Sports Journalists’ Association. Vikki had so much to offer so, when she heard about our new Women in Football campaign group, she wanted to get involved. WiF was set up in 2007 by Anna Kessel and Shelley Alexander with a plan to champion our peers, challenge discrimination and create opportunities for other women. Vikki saw this as another avenue to make a difference in a heavily male-dominated industry so became a founding board member.

Vikki had been a staff writer for The Sun since 1995 and could easily have chosen to focus on the considerable demands of such a role on a national newspaper. She could have kept a low profile to focus on simply keeping her job. But no, Vikki’s political beliefs stimulated her determination to stand up for the vulnerable, those who lacked confidence and needed a guiding hand. She was in a perfect position to mentor others. Nobody else has equivalent experience so every word she uttered to wide-eyed students and aspiring journalists was absorbed and digested. She would always make the effort to attend our WiF events over the past 12 years – only extreme ill health or being in another country would keep her away. Such was her dedication and commitment.

Just a fortnight ago, Vikki attended the FWA tribute dinner to Gareth Southgate at The Savoy Hotel. She was in a wheelchair and so frail, her body ravaged by cancer and the drugs required to fight it. Most would have taken the easy and sensible option to stay at home to rest but not Vikki. She had to be there alongside her husband, the renowned sports writer, Ian Ridley. Spirited and resolute to the end. Naturally, she was still smiling.

Vikki achieved so much in her relatively short but action-packed time on the planet. Far too much for one article to detail, so here’s a brief overview: she was the first female staff football writer on a tabloid, athletics correspondent at The Sun, charity campaigner and fundraiser, patient governor at the Royal Marsden Hospital, diversity campaigner, board member and despite the effects of intensive treatment, she even found time to chair her local book festival in Hertfordshire. Her inspirational story will be told in full in due course.

Vikki’s passing is devastating to all who knew her. I have cried a steady stream since taking the call from my WiF colleague, Jo Tongue, at breakfast time. Too soon, just too soon to lose this special person. But Vikki was such a force for positive change that her friends and colleagues will turn our grief into her legacy. Plans for a sports writing bursary in her name are just the start.

Rest in peace, dear Vikki. There was nobody quite like you but your warmth, wit and spirit will live on. We will do everything in our power to ensure the sporting press rooms and press boxes of the future are a more welcoming and equal environment. On behalf of all female sports journalists: thank you.

Pictures courtesy of News Group Newspapers

Vikki Orvice RIP – by Steve Howard

Vikki Orvice, the FWA’s vice-chair and a long-standing National Committee member, lost her long battle with cancer today at the age of 56. She was a much-loved colleague to many of us at the FWA and especially at The Sun, where she covered athletics and football.

Former SunSport chief sports writer and FWA member Steven Howard paid tribute to his colleague on the Sun’s website, and we are honoured to reproduce it here:

Article below via The Sun website.

Images courtesy of News UK.

IT was Saturday August 4, 2012, and London’s Olympic Stadium was a crucible of bubbling, patriotic fervour.

Jess Ennis-Hill had just won gold in the heptathlon and Vikki Orvice and I were furiously putting over our copy knowing Mo Farah was due to start the 10,000metres in under half an hour.

Then from the other side of the stadium came a huge roar.

“What the **** was that?” I yelled at Vikki alongside me.

“Greg Rutherford has only gone and won the flipping long jump,” she shouted back over the din.

Not long after, Farah would make it triple gold – three inside an astonishing 44 minutes.

It was the greatest night in British athletics, perhaps the greatest night in Olympic history.

Certainly, neither Vikki nor I had known anything like it.

At the time, Vikki was in remission from the cancer that had first struck in 2007 – and which, devastatingly, would return in 2014.

For the last four years she fought valiantly – and with no lack of humour – against the odds, her life a strength-sapping treadmill of chemotherapy at London’s Marsden Hospital sandwiched inbetween her jobs as athletics correspondent and football writer for The Sun.

All three Olympic gold medallists later sent message of encouragement and support during her cancer battle.

Fittingly, for a daughter of Sheffield, she had a core of steel.


But the long, unequal struggle ended this morning when Vikki died aged 56.

The grief engulfing her sportswriter husband Ian Ridley, her family and her many admiring friends is only partially mitigated by the relief it is finally all over.

If she was a fundraiser, arch supporter and poster girl – her own words – for the Marsden, she was also a massive source of encouragement for every young girl who wondered whether they, too, could make it in what was the very male enclave of sports journalism.

Yes, Julie Welch was the first to start breaking down the barriers on The Observer in the Seventies.

And there were other sports journalists like Hazel Irvine and Kate Battersby when Vikki first arrived in Fleet Street in the Nineties.

But they were few and far between.

The difference with Vikki, though, was she was the first woman to be appointed as a football writer on a red top.

It may have been a decade or so after the worst male excesses of the Life on Mars generation but the profession was still top-heavy with men behaving badly and contemptuous of women in the pressbox.

Working at the coal face of sports journalism, she was not just a pioneer but a suffragette on the slow, back-breaking march towards equality.

At the end, she would stand at the pinnacle, a vociferous defender of women’s rights and ceaseless promoter of their abilities – a director of Women in Football and a significant figure at both the Sports Journalists Association and the Football Writers Association.

At the age of ten, she entered a Daily Express competition, saying she wanted to be a sportswriter.

Her subject? Her beloved Sheffield United.

She would finally achieve her ambition in the face of constant prejudice but it was a long journey.

Recalling her early days on national newspapers, she said: “I went to Arsenal v Norwich on the opening afternoon of the season.

“The main stand at Arsenal had a mural on it and I was basically sent along to write about that because, you know, it was a bit girly and stuff.

“But it actually turned into a good story because Norwich won.

“I remember somebody came over to the sports desk on the Monday morning saying ‘Why did you give that match to HER? I should have been there instead’.

“I would later have lunch with the sports editor who said a woman could never do the job full-time. In those days, you didn’t even question it.”

Then in the summer of 1995 came her mould-breaking move to The Sun.

Her all-round talent was quickly recognised and she would soon become the paper’s athletics correspondent, a role which she relished – covering all of Usain Bolt’s world records – and in which she would prosper.

She would also strike up enduring relationships with many of the sport’s leading lights – chief among them Paula Radcliffe, Ennis and Farah.

She did so because these people trusted her. Many times she was given information she couldn’t write about and didn’t – her scrupulousness being rewarded later with bigger stories she COULD write about.

As such, she produced a series of old-fashioned scoops during the golden age of British athletics. An era that saw the GB team go from one gold medal at Atlanta in 1996 to an astonishing 27 in Rio in 2016, second only to the USA.

Nor was there anyone more excited about the new crop of outstanding home athletes like Dina Asher-Smith than Vikki.

During all this, she was a sounding board for other members of her profession unfortunate enough to themselves be afflicted by cancer.

She was also fundraising – one reference to a charity event with Radcliffe showing both her unquenchable spirit and humour.

She tweeted: “I am walking 5k with Paula in the Race for Life. She has a personal best for the event of 14 minutes 29.11 seconds but is recovering from a broken toe and hence is not running.

“I have a personal best of 19 months in remission from secondary cancer – hence not running, either!”

I met Vikki twice for lunch in the last few months with former Sun sports editor Paul Ridley, the man who not only brought her to Fleet Street but also gave her the athletics job.

Once when, complete in black wig and showbiz sunglasses, she looked a million dollars – despite the chemo.

Then again just before Christmas in Soho when she was obviously struggling a bit.

Dressed in a stunning, full-length, camel overcoat and carrying an elegant black walking-stick, she climbed into a black cab that was to take her to see a concerned Sebastian Coe.

Noticing the anguish in my face, she said: “Don’t worry, Steve.”

What style. What class. Still thinking about other people to the end.

Vanarama National League column – York City

York City – by Glenn Moore

Steve Watson was never one to shirk a challenge as a player, but few were as daunting as the one he has just signed on for as a manager. The former Newcastle United and England defender has become York City’s third manager this season.

Watson, 44, had been at Gateshead, whom he had steered to the fringe of the play-offs in the Vanarama National League despite a tight budget and youthful squad. York City are 17th in Vanarama National League North, their lowest position in at least 90 years, and arguably in the club’s history (Prior to joining the Football League in 1929 City had been in the old Midland League, then an established feeder into the Football League).

Leaving a club in contention for promotion to the Football League for one in danger of relegation to the Evo-Stik [Northern] Premier League is not an obvious move, but Watson was looking at potential. Despite their poor form York are averaging nearly 2,500, almost three times Gateshead, and crowds will surely increase further when their much-delayed, long-awaited new ground opens next season.

“It was a tough decision to leave Gateshead but an easy one to join York City,” he said. “I had a great 15 months at Gateshead but I couldn’t see the progression. With the new stadium, the size of York City – there are probably only two clubs in this league that you’d call ‘a League club’ and York is obviously one of them. There is huge potential here and my job is to realise that.”

Watson faces a tough start. Though he has technically overseen one match, a quarter-final against Redcar in the North Riding Senior Cup which was won 6-1 by a relatively experienced XI, the real thing begins Saturday. York travel to what is presumably the division’s other ‘League club’ Watson referred to, third-placed Stockport County. That is followed by a home debut against leaders Chorley.

The first priority is to change the mood around a club that has become accustomed to failure averaging one win in every four matches over the last four seasons. Then York need to climb clear of relegation trouble; City are six points from the drop. Next is an assault on the play-offs – nine points distant. Watson’s ultimate aim, regaining a place in the Football League, won’t be easy. The Vanarama North alone has nine former Football League clubs.

York are in danger of becoming one of those established Football League clubs that drops out and never returns – as the likes of Southport and Bradford Park Avenue seem to be. They have spent 11 of the last 15 years in non-League having been relegated from the league in both 2004 and 2016. Exacerbating the woe for supporters is that they have been overtaken by nearby Harrogate Town, a club traditionally well below the Minstermen but now challenging for promotion to the Football League.

Desperate to regain their former status City have remained full-time despite dropping into the sixth tier. This should provide a healthy advantage but also brings added pressure and expectation – Watson is the seventh manager in five seasons.

Watson is happy to face up to that expectation. “This season is far from over,” he said. “They seem to have lost their way a bit, but the ability here far exceeds where they are in the league. There are 17 games left, can we put enough wins together to have a real dash at it?”

For more on York City please visit: https://www.yorkcityfootballclub.co.uk/

For more on the Vanarama National League visit: http://www.thenationalleague.org.uk/

For great deals on van and car hire and leasing: http://www.vanarama.co.uk/