Footballer of the Year voting

Voting has opened for Footballer of the Year, and all FWA members should by now have received an email with a code for online voting.  If you have not received an email, however, or would like to register your vote by email, phone, text or post, please contact our executive secretary Paul McCarthy on or 07831 650977 .  Voting closes on midnight April 30th.

Women’s Footballer of the Year shortlist

Five members of Phil Neville’s England squad have been voted on to the shortlist for the FWA’s inaugural Women’s Footballer of the Year award. The short-list was chosen by a 22-strong expert panel, drawn from members of the Football Writers’ Association who report on women’s football.

The five are (in alphabetical order): Lucy Bronze (Lyon), Isobel Christiansen (Manchester City), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), Jodie Taylor (Arsenal/Melbourne City/Seattle Reign)

Two young English players, Millie Bright (Chelsea) and Nikita Parris (Man City) were very close to making the cut, as was Arsenal’s Dutch striker Vivianne Miedema.

Votes were also received by (in alphabetical order, English unless stated): Eni Aluko (Chelsea), Toni Duggan (Barcelona), Ji So-yun (Chelsea & South Korea), Hedvig Lindahl (Chelsea & Sweden), Maren Mjelde (Chelsea & Norway), Lucy Staniforth (Sunderland), Keira Walsh (Man City), Ellen White (Birmingham City).

The winner will be announced later in the season, after further deliberations.


Lucy Bronze (Lyon) . Voted into the team of the tournament at Euro 2016 after which she left Manchester City for Lyon, the French and European champions. Defender who led England at the recent She Believes Cup.


Isobel Christiansen (Manchester City)  Maturing attacking midfielder who creates and scores goals. Joined from Birmingham City in 2014 and has been a key figure in Manchester City’s rise.


Fran Kirby (Chelsea) . Leading scorer this season with 15 goals in 20 domestic appearances. Signed by Chelsea from Reading for a rumoured record fee in 2015 and scored consistently since.


Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal) England vice-captain who shone at Euro 2016 and has been at the heart of Arsenal’s revival. Midfielder with a penchant for spectacular goals.


Jodie Taylor (Arsenal/Melbourne City/Seattle Reign) Golden Boot winner at Euro 2016 who has since scored for Arsenal, Melbourne City (including the winner in the W-League Grand Final), and now Seattle.

The FWA’s panel will meet again to decide on the winner ahead of the Footballer of the Year dinner on May 10th


FWA members clean up at SJA Journalism Awards

FWA Members scooped some of the top prizes once again at the Sports Journalists’ Association’s annual awards ceremony at the Park Plaza Westminster on Monday February 26.

Danny Taylor of the Guardian led the way with the most prestigious prize, as Sportswriter of the Year, as well as being voted Football writer of the Year.

Danny’s predecessor as Sportswriter of the Year for the past two years, Paul Hayward, won the Columnist of the Year category this time, while his Telegraph colleague Jeremy Wilson was voted Investigative Sports Reporter of the Year for his groundbreaking work highlighting the links between football and dementia.

The Mail’s Matt Lawton won Sports News Reporter for a remarkable fourth successive time, while the Regional Journalist award went to Chris Wathan who has just joined the BBC from Media Wales.

And there was a special award for David Walker, the outgoing Mirror sports editor, who won the Doug Gardner award for services to sports journalism.

Numerous FWA members were also shortlisted and commended in many categories. You can see a full list of the prize-winners at the SJA website here:

Danny Taylor receives his Sportswriter of the Year award from FWA Life Member and SJA President Pat Collins

Defoe, Benitez, Lascelles and Pickford collect awards

Jermain Defoe led a star-studded awards evening at the North East Football Writers’ Association annual dinner at the Ramside Hall in Durham on Sunday night.

The Bournemouth striker collected a special award from the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation for his work with Bradley Lowery as the young Sunderland fan fought an ultimately unsuccessful fight against cancer.

Defoe was presented with his award by Bradley’s mum Gemma, in an emotional moment on  a glittering evening.   Rafa Benitez was rewarded for winning the Championship title with Newcastle last season, while United captain Jamaal Lascelles collected the NE Player of the Year trophy, which he won in tandem with team-mate Matt Ritchie.

Jordan Pickford was named NE Young Player of the Year for the second season running, and there were also awards for two of the North East’s finest journalists – George Caulkin of the Times and Ray Robertson, who organised the dinner for many years and was honoured with Life Membership of the FWA.

Congratulations must go to Colin Young for organising another successful evening in his tireless way, and also to our title sponsors William Hill for their support.

Watch out for more reports and video from the event…

Special award at North East FWA Dinner


The friendship between former Sunderland striker, Jermain Defoe, and young cancer patient, Bradley Lowery, touched everyone who saw the pair together.

Bradley, from Blackhall Colliery, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at only 18-months-old and last year his mum, Gemma, shared the devastating news that the cancer was terminal. He passed away in July aged just six.

Jermain’s compassion towards his young friend, and his help raising awareness of neuroblastoma, will be recognised at the North East Football Writers’ Association’s Awards later this month (Sunday 25th February) where he will be named the North East Personality of the Year.

The prestigious award is given in association with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and recognises someone who uses their position in football to benefit the wider community, and a special trophy has been created by Kalki Mansel, a hot glass artist and designer at the National Glass Centre in Sunderland.

Bradley’s Mum, Gemma, was proud to personally add the finishing touches to it by blowing the glass.

Gemma said: “It was fantastic that Jermain became such a friend to Bradley and his continued friendship to us now means a lot.

“He had so much to do with us all in the final weeks of Bradley’s life and he hasn’t just left things there. Jermain is a Patron of the Bradley Lowery Foundation and he wants to be involved because that’s where his heart is.

“This award is something to be grateful for and it’s nice that Jermain is receiving recognition, although he said he doesn’t need that. Everything he has done came from his kindness and the goodness of his heart.

“Sadly, Bradley’s not here to help but I hope I’m the next best thing and I enjoyed helping make the award. I’m sure Jermain will love it.”

Jermain first met Bradley when he was a mascot for Sunderland AFC in 2016 and a very special bond grew between them.

Now a player for Bournemouth, Jermain returned to the North East to spend time with Bradley at his County Durham home just before he died. A week later, he returned again, this time to attend Bradley’s funeral. Jermain wore his England shirt in honour of his young friend.

Lady Elsie says: “This award is very important to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and we can’t think of anyone more appropriate to receive it than Jermain. It’s been absolutely fascinating to see the award being made and a great pleasure to meet Gemma. She’s an extraordinary woman and I admire her positivity and strength during such a difficult time.”

Held annually at Ramside Hall Hotel in Durham, the North East Football Writers’ Association Awards night, sponsored by William Hill, raises funds for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, which helps find more effective ways to detect and treat cancer.

The charity recently made a £1million contribution to fund clinical research and nursing posts at the new Wolfson Childhood Cancer Research Centre at Newcastle University.

Colin Young, secretary of the North East Football Writers’ Association, adds: “Our awards night is a chance to celebrate all that’s good about football in this area. Joining with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation to honour Jermain highlights the positive things football can do.

“Very sadly, Colin Verne-Jones from Durham Trophies, who supplied our awards for many years, died suddenly from cancer within weeks of last year’s event.

“We had to think of a new approach to the trophies for this year and wanted to make them very special and from this region. Commissioning trophies from the National Glass Centre seemed the ideal choice. And Jermain’s is all the more perfect because of Gemma’s input into it. We’re glad that Jermain will have a lasting reminder of his time in the North East with him when he leaves our awards event.”

The North East Football Writers’ Association Awards will be held on Sunday 25th February at Ramside Hall Hotel.  Other recipients of awards include Men’s Players of the Year, Jamaal Lascelles and Matt Ritchie, Young Player of the Year, Jordan Pickford, and Womens’ Player of the Year, Victoria Williams.

There will also be special presentations to Newcastle United manager, Rafa Benitez, and non-league clubs Blyth Spartans, Spennymoor Town and South Shields.

Tickets to the black tie event are available now at £58 per person, which includes a four course meal and entertainment.  Please call Claire Stephen on 0191 375 3080 or email for more information or to book tickets.

Below are pictures of Gemma Lowery, Bradley’s Mum, and one with the glass designer Kalki Mansel alongside Lady Elsie Robson, Colin Young and Gemma Lowery.

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Pele Tribute night

The Football Writers’ Association paid tribute to Pele in a star-studded evening at the Savoy Hotel in London on Sunday.
Although the great man was suffering from exhaustion and unable to travel to the event as planned, a host of star names from the world of football and football writing paid tribute to the Brazilian legend, arguably the greatest player of all time.
Gordon Banks, England’s World Cup winning goalkeeper from 1966, spoke about ‘that save’ from the 1970 World Cup, when he kept out a header from Pele that the player – and the watching world – thought was a certain goal. It is still regarded as one of the greatest saves of all time, and Banks said: “When I saw Pele in London some time ago, he said: ‘Gordon, I go all over the world and people talk about the goals I scored, but when I come to England, all they talk about is that save!”
Gareth Southgate, in his toast to the FWA, said Pele had created so many iconic moments in football history. “To have watched his performances, to see the impact he had on the world stage was incredible. You could see the enjoyment he took from the game, as well as
the ability that he had.
“To have gone on to have been an incredible ambassador for the game in the way he has as well speaks volumes for the impact I think he has had, not only on football community, but right across the world as one of those rare iconic figures. You can travel to any part of the globe and people know who he was.”
Cliff Jones, the former Tottenham and Wales winger, talked about facing Pele in the 1958 World Cup, when the Brazilian was an unknown 17-year-old. “Our manager Jimmy Murphy had warned us about the great players we’d be facing, such as Garrincha. But we had no idea who this 17-year-old kid Pele was. We soon found out. He scored the goal that beat us, three in the semi-final and two more in the final. We knew then we were watching someone special.”
And Pele’s former New York Cosmos team-mate Steve Hunt spoke about playing alongside the great man in the final year of his illustrious career. “I was 20 years old and playing for Aston Villa reserves when the chance came to play in America,” he said. “When I was told my team-mate would be Pele, I said ‘Where do I sign?’ When I met him the first day, I was greeted by a huge smile and the biggest hug imaginable. He was the warmest, friendliest guy I could have hoped for.
“I played in his last competitive game ever, and after we won 2-1, we carried him on our shoulders, which was the greatest moment of my life. He was a genius as a player and also one hell of a human being.”
Hugh McIlvanney, who covered the great Brazil sides when Pele was at his peak, made an eloquent case for the 1970 World Cup winning team being the greatest side in the history of football and said: “There can be no failure to recognise that the very incarnation of the glories of Brazilian football then, and forever, was and is Pele.”
Patrick Barclay, FWA Chairman, paid tribute to Paul McCarthy and the national committee for their work in organising the evening, thanked our title sponsors William Hill for their support, and gave thanks to Boadicea the Victorious for their table gifts of luxury perfume.
We were also joined by members from the National Football Museum, who brought along some precious artefacts from their Pele exhibition, including the shirts he wore in 1958 and 1970.

Pele – important notice

In the early hours of Thursday morning, Pele collapsed and was taken to hospital in Brazil where he has undergone a series of tests which appear to point to severe exhaustion. He remains on fluids while doctors monitor his recovery.

Thankfully, there is no suggestion of anything more serious than exhaustion and everybody at the Football Writers’ Association wishes Pele a swift and full recovery.

Understandably, his medical situation prevents him from travelling to London for the Football Writers’ Association Tribute Night on Sunday evening at The Savoy. But after discussions with Pele and his team, he has insisted the event should continue, not least because many of Pele’s friends are travelling from overseas to be with us on Sunday.

While it is incredibly sad Pele cannot attend the function, the FWA are grateful that all those who have been asked to pay tribute on the night – Gareth Southgate, Cliff Jones, Gordon Banks and Steve Hunt – are determined to help make the evening a memorable one.

Pele’s team have also asked that we film the event and send a copy to Brazil in the knowledge it will lift the Great Man’s spirits to see his friends are thinking of him and sending their best wishes. With that in mind, we want to do Pele proud and make Sunday night as memorable as possible.

It goes without saying, Pele has an open invitation to any of our functions once he regains his health and we are already discussing the possibility of him joining us in May for the Footballer of the Year Dinner.

Paul McCarthy
Executive Secretary

Cliff Jones to join Pele celebrations

Cliff Jones, the legendary former Tottenham, Swansea and Wales winger, will join us at the Savoy on Sunday to pay tribute to Pele.

Jones was in the Wales team beaten by Pele’s goal as Brazil won 1-0 in the quarter-finals of the 1958 World Cup, but the flying winger insists it would have been closer if the great John Charles had not missed the game through injury. He said:  “I still say to this day if John had played in the quarter-final it could have been a different result because he would have caused Brazil problems they’d never faced before.”

Jones was part of the famous Spurs side that won the first League and FA Cup Double of the 20th Century and became the first English team to win a European trophy, lifting the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1963.  He retired after scoring 159 goals in 378 games for Tottenham and is still a match-day ambassador at the club’s games.

Gordon Banks to attend Pele celebration

The Football Writers’ Association is delighted to announce that World Cup winner Gordon Banks will be among our special guests when we honour Pele at the FWA Tribute night on London on January 21.

Banks will join us at the Savoy Hotel in London to pay tribute to Pele when the great Brazilian flies in to receive his lifetime achieve award from the FWA. The former Chesterfield, Leicester and Stoke goalkeeper played 73 times for England and was in goal when Sir Alf Ramsey’s men beat West Germany in the 1966 World Cup final.

Arguably his greatest save came four years later, in the 1970 tournament, when he defied the laws of physics to keep out a goalbound header from Pele as England lost 1-0 to Brazil in Mexico.

“From the moment I headed it, I was sure it had gone in,” Pele has said.

“After I headed the ball, I had already began to jump to celebrate the goal. Then I looked back and I couldn’t believe it hadn’t gone in. I have scored more than a thousand goals in my life and the thing people always talk to me about is the one I didn’t score.”

Former International soccer players England goal keeper, Gordon Banks (left) with a picture of his famous save from Brazil striker Pele (right) attend a news conference in London where they announced the 100 all time greatest footballers chosen by Pele for the celebration of 100 years of FIFA the wiorld governing body.




The Football Writers’ Association is delighted to announce that Pele, arguably the greatest footballer of all, will be joining us at the Savoy Hotel on January 21st to receive this year’s FWA Tribute Award.

Pele, 77, has accepted our invitation to join some of the greatest names in world football as recipients of the FWA Tribute Award, and will be flying in from America to collect it at our annual gala dinner at the Savoy.

His achievements should not need repeating, as a member of three World Cup-winning sides, the scorer of over 1000 goals, and numerous personal accolades during a glittering 15-year career.

Paul McCarthy, the FWA’s executive secretary, said: “Traditionally, we have honoured those who have made an outstanding contribution to the British game but I’m sure you will agree that in a World Cup year and on the 60th anniversary of his first appearance in a World Cup, there can be no more fitting recipient than Pele.”

Tickets are on sale now and FWA members should receive an email with details.