Steph Houghton is NE FWA Personality of the Year

Steph Houghton will receive the North East Football Writers’ Association’s Personality of the Year trophy, which is given in association with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation to recognise someone who uses their position in football to benefit the wider community.

The 31-year-old Manchester City captain, described by The Football Association as, “a role model in every sense,” will receive recognition for her off-the-field activities, which include official roles with the Professional Players Association, UEFA, The James Milner Foundation and the NSPCC.

She will also be recognised for campaigning to end period poverty and for her great commitment to The Darby Rimmer MND Foundation, a charity launched after her husband, Stephen Darby, was diagnosed with the disease in 2018.

Steph, who is from Durham, will be following in the footsteps of Alan Shearer, who received the North East Personality of the Year trophy last year.

It will be presented at the North East Football Writers’ Association Awards, sponsored by William Hill, which are held annually at Ramside Hall Hotel in Durham to celebrate the best of North East football. The event will, once again, raise funds for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.  PLEASE NOTE  CHANGE OF DATE TO SUNDAY FEBRUARY 23rd

Lady Elsie Robson said: “This is the sixth year we’ve helped the Football Writers’ Association choose a recipient for this award and Steph is the first woman to receive it. That seems very fitting given as she’s been such a pioneer in the women’s game.

“Steph has worked extremely hard to achieve her success and she’s also done so much to help others in that time. She’s a very worthy winner of this special award.”

In addition to the presentation to Steph, the North East Football Writers’ Association will be taking the opportunity at the awards night to pay tribute to the seven Lionesses who are from this region.

The chair of the Football Writers’ Association nationally, Carrie Brown, says: “In the week the Football Writers’ Association pays tribute to Vincent Kompany, it’s fitting we announce Steph Houghton as the winner of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation Personality of the Year.

“The England and Manchester City captain can stand shoulder to shoulder with Kompany after leading club and country to unprecedented success in, arguably, the most important and influential decade in the history of the women’s game.

“Off the field, Steph has been an impeccable ambassador for the sport and the sport, in turn, has come out in support for Steph and her husband, former Liverpool player Stephen Darby.

“Stephen was diagnosed with motor neurone disease last year and, with his close friend Chris Rimmer, has set-up the Darby Rimmer MND Foundation in hope of finding a cure for the disease.

“I am delighted the North East branch of the FWA has recognised Steph, and all seven players from the region who represented the Lionesses in France last summer.

“Congratulations also to Scottish international Kathryn Hill, whose imperious form in defence for Durham Women has won her the Women’s Player of the Year Award.

“The FWA looks forward to hosting what promises to be a wonderful night of celebration for the men’s and women’s game.”

Appointed England captain in 2014, Steph has appeared at two World Cups and two European Championships, as well as starring for Team GB at London 2012. She is the most recent player to earn a century of England caps.

At club level, her career began with Sunderland Ladies, before joining Leeds United Ladies, where she won an FA Women’s Cup medal, and then winning numerous honours with Arsenal.

Steph moved to Manchester City six years ago and has been instrumental in helping the club become one of the powerhouses of the women’s game, guiding her team to trophies in all three domestic competitions.

Other recipients of North East Football Writers’ Association awards this year include Men’s Player of the Year, Fabian Schar (Newcastle United), Young Player of the Year, Sean Longstaff (Newcastle United) and Womens’ Player of the Year, Kathryn Hill (Durham Women FC).

The previous winners of the North East Personality of the Year trophy, in association with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, are:

• Alan Shearer
• Jermain Defoe
• Steve Harper
• Robbie Elliott
• Niall Quinn

Tickets for the North East Football Writers’ Association Awards are available from Claire Stephen at Ramside Hall Hotel (0191 375 3080 or

Vincent Kompany honoured on Gala Tribute Evening

Vincent Kompany said he was honoured and humbled to be the recipient of the FWA’s Tribute Award at The Savoy on Sunday January 12.

The former Manchester City and Belgium captain was our special guest at a star-studded event, and spoke eloquently about his career, his family and charity work. Accompanied by his father Pierre, he was joined on the top table by Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Manchester, with whom Vincent has set up Tackle4MCR, a charity that helps the homeless and rough sleepers in the city.

Andy Burnham spoke in glowing terms about Vincent and his charity work, before FWA Chair Carrie Brown joined in with the praise, and handed over Vincent’s award.  He thanked the FWA, not only for his award but for our help in highlighting racism in football, and he called for more diversity in the game at all levels.

Vincent received a standing ovation, and spent hours afterwards mingling with guests.  Our thanks to Vincent and his colleagues for making it another special occasion, and thanks also to our sponsors William Hill for helping us stage the event.

There was sadness, too, as we remembered absent friends, and Paul McCarthy our executive secretary announced that the evening was dedicated to Steve Curry, our great friend, colleague and Life Member, who passed away in 2019. Steve’s widow Carol and son Mike were in attendance.

You can see our interview with Vincent here:

Thanks to Steve Paston of PA images for photography

Schar, Longstaff and Hill win North East FWA awards

Newcastle United defender Fabian Schar is the 2019 North East Football Writers’ Association’s Player of the Year.

His Newcastle team-mate Sean Longstaff is the NEFWA Young Player of the Year.

And Durham Women FC defender Kathryn Hill has been named Women’s Player of the Year.

All three will be presented with their awards at the 40th North East Football Writers’ Association annual dinner at The Ramside Hall Hotel, Golf and Spa, Durham, WHICH WILL NOW BE HELD ON SUNDAY FEBRUARY 23rd

The awards night will also feature the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation personality of the year award which has previously been awarded to Alan Shearer, Jermaine Defoe, Niall Quinn and Robbie Elliott. This year’s recipient will be announced later this week.

As well as recognising success in non-league football, the NEFWA also present the Bob Cass Award and the John Fotheringham Awards, named after two renowned North East football writers, and recognising outstanding services to the region’s football.

Switzerland international Schar narrowly beat Newcastle midfielder Isaac Hayden in the player of the year vote, which is held among the North East’s football writers, with Middlesbrough and Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Darren Randolph in third place.

Schar, 28, joined Newcastle from Deportivo La Coruna in summer 2018 after spells with FC Wil 1900, FC Basel and 1899 Hoffenheim. He has 52 Swiss caps, playing in the last two World Cup Finals and Euro 2016 Finals, and also represented his country in the 2012 Olympics in London.

The stylish centre-back scored four goals last season, including the 30-yard screamer against Burnley which won the Premier League and Match of the Day goal of the month in February. He scored his first goal of this season against Everton as a near ever-present under Steve Bruce, until a hamstring injury over the festive period.

Schar becomes the fourth Newcastle player in a row to win the annual award following keeper Martin Dubravka last season and joint winners Jamaal Lascelles and Matt Ritchie in 2017. 

In total Newcastle players have won the award 19 times, with Sunderland on 11, Middlesbrough nine and Hartlepool United’s Joe Allen taking the large silver trophy home in 1991. 

Newcastle academy graduate Sean Longstaff was the unanimous choice for the young player award, which also has an impressive list of previous winners.

He takes the awards from former Sunderland striker Josh Maja and follows the likes of Jordan Pickford, Ayoze Perez and the first winner, Steven Taylor. 

The 22-year-old midfielder joined the club as a schoolboy and after loan spells with Kilmarnock and Blackpool, made his first team debut under Rafa Benitez in December 2018.

He made a real impression on Newcastle fans in the win over champions Manchester City at St James’ Park and scored his first Premier League goal in that 2-0 win over Burnley. 

Although he was ruled out for the season with a knee injury the following month, Longstaff, whose brother Matt has also made an impressive breakthrough to the first team, continued where he left off when he returned to the side this season.

Scotland international Hill is the second Durham Women FC player to win the annual award, following last season’s recipient Beth Hepple, the local youngster, who started her career at New Ferens Park.

The tough-tackling defender, signed from Rangers two years ago as part of the club’s link with Durham University, has been an integral part of the FA Women’s Championship side’s promotion pushes this season and last.

Hill has made nearly 50 appearances since her debut for Lee Sanders’ side which narrowly missed out on a place in the FA Women’s Super League last season.

Tickets for the awards night are £58 and available from Claire Stephen on 0191 375 3080.


Previous player of the year award winners

Newcastle 19 (2 joint)

Sunderland 11 (1 joint)

Middlesbrough 9

Hartlepool 1

Player of the Year:

1980 David Armstrong (Middlesbrough)

1981 Jim Platt (Middlesbrough)

1982 Bryan ‘Pop’ Robson (Sunderland)

1983 Kevin Keegan (Newcastle)

1984 Kevin Keegan (Newcastle)

1985 Chris Waddle (Newcastle)

1986 Peter Beardsley (Newcastle)

1987 David McCreery/Neil McDonald (Newcastle)

1988 Tony Mowbray (Middlesbrough)

1989 Marco Gabbiadini (Sunderland)

1990 Mick Quinn (Newcastle)

1991 Joe Allen (Hartlepool United)

1992 Stephen Pears (Middlesbrough)

1993 Lee Clark (Newcastle)

1994 Peter Beardsley (Newcastle)

1995 Barry Venison (Newcastle)

1996 Les Ferdinand (Newcastle)

1997 Juninho (Middlesbrough)

1998 Paul Merson (Middlesbrough)

1999 Niall Quinn (Sunderland)

2000 Kevin Phillips (Sunderland)

2001 Thomas Sorensen (Sunderland)

2002 Shay Given (Newcastle)

2003 Alan Shearer (Newcastle)

2004 Gareth Southgate (Middlesbrough)

2005 Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough)

2006 Shay Given (Newcastle)

2007 Nyron Nosworthy/Dean Whitehead (Sunderland)

2008 David Wheater (Middlesbrough)

2009 Danny Collins (Sunderland)

2010 Darren Bent (Sunderland)

2011 Fabricio Colocinni (Newcastle)

2012 Simon Mignolet (Sunderland)

2013 Yohann Cabaye (Newcastle)

2014 Lee Cattermole (Sunderland)

2015 Daryl Janmaat (Newcastle)

2016 Jermain Defoe (Sunderland)

2017 Jamaal Lascelles/Matt Ritchie (Newcastle)

2018 Martin Dubravka (Newcastle)

2019 Fabian Schar (Newcastle)

CHANGE OF DATE North East FWA Awards now February 23

The FWA’s North-East awards night has been put back to Sunday February 23rd at the Ramside Hall in Durham.

Originally scheduled for Feb 2, it has been put back to allow for the attendance of our winners.

It is the North East branch’s showpiece event of the year, featuring the region’s Player of the Year, Women’s Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year and many other awards.

Last year’s main awards were won by Martin Dubravka of Newcastle, Beth Hepple of Durham and Sunderland’s Josh Maja.  There was also a special award for the region’s Personality of the Year for Alan Shearer, after the former Newcastle and England captain raised over £11m for a wide range of good causes and charities.  One of them, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, will again be the recipient of much needed funds on the night, which is supported by the FWA’s headline sponsor William Hill.

It is sure to be another star-studded evening, and tickets sell out quickly.  Contact organiser Colin Young or  Claire Stephen at the Ramside Hall directly for details: 0191 375 3080



Change of date – Vincent Kompany Tribute night now Sunday January 12


Please note that the FWA Tribute Night for Vincent Kompany has a change of date, brought forward from Jan19 to SUNDAY JANUARY 12. This is because Belgian TV requirements have led to a re-scheduling of Anderlecht’s game on the 19th.

All other details remain exactly the same and those who have booked tickets and tables at our annual Savoy event will be receiving tickets and passes within the next 10 days.

As a matter of urgency, can you please let Paul McCarthy, FWA Executive Secretary, know if you are NOT able to take your allocated table or tickets.

Our sincere apologies for the change but it was completely out of our control.

The FWA’s National Committee chose to honour Kompany not just for his outstanding contribution to English football, having won every domestic trophy (four PL titles, two FA Cups and four League Cups) but also for his charity work, not least via Tackle4MCR, a co-operation with the Mayor of Manchester’s office to tackle homelessness in the city.  He also studied for and gained an MBA when he was in Manchester, and is a FIFA ambassador for the SOS Children charity.

Kompany wlll travel to London on January 12 to collect his award in what is sure to be a star-studded event and memorable night.

You can see a list of previous winners of the FWA Tribute Award here:

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

Klopp and Guardiola in sparkling form at FWA awards

PEP GUARDIOLA AND JURGEN KLOPP were in sparkling form at the Football Writers’ Association Northern Managers awards night, in Manchester on Sunday November 24.

Klopp was honoured for leading Liverpool to victory over Tottenham in the Champions League final on June 1, and he attended the dinner with the trophy standing proudly by the top table.

Guardiola was honoured for leading Manchester City to a domestic treble of Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup. All three trophies were on display at the Radisson Hotel, along with the FA Womens Cup and Continental Trophy, won by Manchester City Women. Their manager Nick Cushing, was also honoured with an award at the event.

Other managers to be honoured included Chris Wilder for leading Sheffield United to promotion from the Championship, Daniel Stendel of Barnsley, Ryan Lowe of Bury, Tranmere’s Micky Mellon, Graham Alexander of Salford City, AFC Fylde’s Dave Challinor and Barry Lewtas from Liverpool Under 18s.

Klopp and Guardiola both gave charming and witty speeches, admitting to being envious of each other’s trophies and stating their ambitions to win more.

Ian Dennis, a recent recruit to the FWA, was master of ceremonies for the evening, and a substantial sum was raised for the nominated charity of the FWA’s Northern Branch,the Forget Me Not children’s hospice in Huddersfield.

The event was attended by FWA Chair Carrie Brown, Executive Secretary Paul McCarthy and several members of the national committee. Our thanks to the organisers Richard Bott, Steve Bates, Paul Hetherington and Andy Dunn, as well as the staff of the Radisson and our generous sponsors William Hill.

You can see a video from the evening here:

Memories of Vikki Orvice

A star-studded gathering of the good and the great from sport and the media gathered at Lord’s on November 13 to honour the legacy of Vikki Orvice and raise a six figure sum for the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

Over £103,000 was raised among an audience of 400 people who turned up to pay tribute to Vikki, who passed away last February. It was an emotional and moving evening, with tears and laughter in equal measure, superbly hosted by Jacqui Oatley, Vikki’s friend and FWA committee member.

Ian Ridley, Vikki’s husband gave a moving speech and said how much she would have loved to see so many familiar faces, which included Brendan Foster, Paula Radcliffe, Tony Adams, Greg Rutherford and Monty Panesar, to name just a few of the sports stars who attended. One special guest was Tony Currie, Vikki’s favourite footballer, on a table hosted by her beloved Sheffield United.

The gospel choir who sang superbly at Vikki’s funeral reprised their moving and inspiring performance on the night, which was organised by FWA Chair Carrie Brown, Jacqui and Philippe Auclair, along with Jo Tongue and Ian, along with representatives from the Royal Marsden.

The Sun, who made Vikki the first female staff football writer on a tabloid, sponsored the evening, which concluded with a Q and A session with a selection of Vikki’s colleagues from the world of sport and journalism.

Later Ian announced: “A massive £103,000 raised for  @royalmarsden. Thank you to the 400 who attended and all who donated and bought those amazing auction lots and raffle tickets.”

Donations can still be made here:

Rodrigo Lara of Hayters made a short film:

And thanks to Scott Tweed for pics:

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 – POSTPONED

FWA Live North East Special – POSTPONED until 2020

The FWA are sorry to announce that we have had to postpone the FWA Live North East Special in Durham, which was planned for this Thursday November 21, owing to circumstances beyond our control.

Instead the event, which will feature representatives from Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Newcastle United has been put back until after Christmas.

Those attendees who have bought their tickets via Eventbrite should get a full refund in due course.