Tribute Night postponed

We are sorry to say that the Tribute Night planned to honour Pep Guardiola on January 16th has had to be postponed in the light of the current Covid situation.  We will look to rearrange the event as soon as is feasibly possible.

Below is the note Paul McCarthy, our executive secretary, sent out earlier. FWA Members and others who had paid for tickets and/or tables should contact Paul regarding refunds or rearrangements.

“Dear All,
It is with a heavy heart that I have to inform you of our decision to postpone the Tribute Dinner in honour of Pep Guardiola which was scheduled for Sunday January 16.
A combination of factors have led to this decision, primarily the Government’s demand for caution in the face of the current Covid spike. The National Committee is hugely uncomfortable at the thought of staging a 500-person event when the transmission and infection rates are so high and show no immediate signs of decreasing. For an FWA event to have the potential to become a ‘super spreader’ is beyond palatable.
There are also the current restrictions covering football clubs and their managers, players, staff and employees. While there are no in-person press conferences or media access, it would be foolish to expect Pep or anybody at Manchester City to put themselves in a situation which might impact their health and, as a knock-on effect, potentially force the cancellation of matches.
We have held hugely positive talks with City and The Landmark Hotel and our intention is to rearrange the dinner at the earliest possible available date in the calendar. Of course, we are at the whim of fixtures and hotel availability without even mentioning the ongoing health situation, so please bear with us as we attempt to fashion a solution.
Pep has also asked that we pass on his best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year and how he’s looking forward to being with us whenever we can find a new date. We thank him for that.”


PEP GUARDIOLA will again be our leading guest of honour at the 40th Northern Managers Awards Dinner, on Sunday February 6th 2022, at the Radisson Edwardian Hotel, Manchester.

Pep will be honoured for leading Manchester City to the Premier League title in May 2021, and will be joined by other managers from northern clubs to have won honours last season.

They include: GRANT McCANN (Hull City), NEIL CRITCHLEY (Blackpool), LEE JOHNSON (Sunderland), IAN EVATT (Bolton Wanderers), DEREK ADAMS (Morecambe) now Bradford City. DAVE CHALLINOR (Hartlepool United, now Stockport County) , DAVID McNABB (Warrington Rylands).

The dinner, organised in conjunction with our title sponsors William Hill, is always one of the highlights of the FWA social calendar and sells out quickly.

Tickets are £70 for FWA members, £75 for non-members and guests. You can book now for Tables of 10/11, smaller groups or individuals by contacting FWA North secretary RICHARD BOTT or vice chairman PAUL HETHERINGTON.

We also have reserved a discounted rate for rooms at the Edwardian Hotel. Ask Richard or Paul or details.

Pep Guardiola to receive FWA Tribute

We at the FWA are delighted to announce that we will be honouring Pep Guardiola at our Tribute Night dinner, on Sunday January 16th.

The Manchester City manager has accepted the invitation to be our special guest of honour at the Landmark Hotel London.

FWA members can book tables or individual tickets by contacting our executive secretary Paul McCarthy.

More details to follow in due course.

FWA AGM – September 21

Dear Member,

The Annual General Meeting of the Football Writers’ Association will be held on Tuesday, September 21 at 11am at the following address.

The Devereux

20 Devereux Court


London WC2R 3JJ

Any non-National Committee members who wish to attend should contact me on
This will allow us to provide appropriate spacing at the venue.
Kind regards
Paul McCarthy
Executive Secretary
07831 650977

Football v Homophobia panel show – Monday June 14

This Monday June 14 you are invited to a panel discussion from the Football Writers’ Association and Sports Media LGBT+, hosted by Football v Homophobia streaming live from 7pm BST via Zoom and FvH Facebook

The football journalism industry is highly competitive and demanding – and it can also be hugely satisfying and rewarding.

Increasingly, efforts are being made to raise awareness about inclusion and take steps to attract a more diverse workforce. In Pride Month – an important time of year for LGBTQ+ communities – how is the industry faring on representation of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people?

As the FWA and Sports Media LGBT+ kick off a new partnership, the two groups will hold a panel event featuring guests who will discuss their experiences, assess the progress made, and identify areas for action so that everyone – whether writer, reporter, commentator, or those in other roles – feels free to be their authentic selves in football media.

Joining Sports Media LGBT+ founder and network lead Jon Holmes (Sky Sports) for this discussion will be:

  • Nicky Bandini, The Guardian, ESPN, talkSPORT, etc
  • Adam Crafton, The Athletic
  • Matt Dickinson, The Times
  • Lianne Sanderson, Sky Sports, BBC Sport and talkSPORT.

The event will be hosted on Zoom by Football v Homophobia (Pride Sports UK) and also live streamed on the FvH Facebook page.

Taking Pride in my work: Football writing and being LGBT+

By Jon Holmes

I’d been a football writer for more than 13 years before I felt confident enough to write about someone in the game who I knew was, like me, a gay man.

At the time, I didn’t mention the personal significance of getting that article published. It was a feature for the Sky Sports website about ‘Coming Out To Play’, the autobiography of Robbie Rogers who had come out publicly soon after his mutually-agreed exit from Leeds United.

The book was being released just before Rogers and his LA Galaxy team-mates would play in the MLS Cup in December 2014. It resonated with me immensely.

I quoted a passage: “Keeping such a tight lid on myself because of my sexuality made it impossible to feel the whole range of emotions that people normally feel… I wound up feeling isolated whether I was around people or not.”

That had been my experience too, throughout my 20s and early 30s. I’ve always thought the culture of a football newsroom in the 2000s would have likely mirrored that of a football dressing room of the time – male-dominated, laddish, competitive, with emotions often conveyed through the medium of the sport we all loved and covered.

Work nights out were bonding rituals, and anyone who didn’t quite fit in for whatever reason ended up feeling awkward and wary. For me, career-driven and closeted, my prevailing thought was – don’t give the game away.

Constantly checking and editing myself put enormous pressure on my mental health. I got increasingly low and lonely. I now feel immensely fortunate that before my unhappiness took a serious hold, I met a funny, handsome 28-year-old and fell in love.

Chris had none of the emotional hang-ups that I was carrying. Seeing in him and his friends what a liberated life could be like was all I needed. I rushed out of my closet in a hurry, telling all my close family and friends that I was gay in just a matter of weeks.

Some people said they weren’t that surprised and were pleased for me, which was well-meant but a little unhelpful – I wished they’d taken the time to suggest to me, however subtly, that I would be accepted. Others went out of their way to be supportive.

My parents struggled when I told them the news, confirming to me why I’d carried such heavy caution around with me for far too long. However, by that stage I was so elated to be free of the weight that I could handle their disappointment.

This all happened in the time between Rogers first sharing his truth publicly in a personal blog post in February 2013 and his book coming out late the following year. Subconsciously, I needed a real-life ‘gay footballer’ success story – and the way that the Galaxy welcomed him into their family showed you could be out and be respected in this sport I loved.

We hear a lot about ‘LGBT+ role models’ these days but the representation they provide in sport is particularly valuable. For anyone who is not yet ready to accept themselves or be visible, athletes like Robbie give you reason to believe.

As for that feature I’d written, a more experienced newsroom colleague who I respected generously told me that it was a very good article, and that I should write more.

Over the next 18 months, I took the time to educate myself by learning about different LGBT+ experiences and getting involved with our own LGBT+ network at Sky. By 2016, I was writing more frequently on the topic. It meant that when the charity Stonewall was looking for a media partner to help amplify the message of its reinvented Rainbow Laces campaign, Sky Sports was well placed to sign up. I’d found my niche – since then, I’ve written well over 100 related articles, giving a voice and a platform to people across sport who are either LGBT+ themselves or active allies.

In summer 2017, I convened a pub meet-up of other sports journalists and people working in media and comms who were interested in setting up a network group. Soon after, we launched Sports Media LGBT+ – it quickly developed further into advocacy, consultancy and digital publishing, and we now have around 35 core members and a sizeable wider community across sport, with a combined social following of over 10,000.

The support of the Sports Journalists’ Association has been invaluable and it’s exciting to now be partnering in a similar way with the Football Writers’ Association.

The aim of the partnership is simple – to ensure everyone in football media who happens to be LGBT+ is reassured that they’re not alone, and that they can find solidarity and support when and where it’s needed from within our two organisations. For all those who are allies, our link-up will hopefully encourage a more active engagement on this aspect of inclusion and a knowledge base to tap into if and when any stories or opportunities arise that may require advice or additional connections.

As I reflect on getting to this point, I appreciate that even before my Robbie Rogers article in 2017, I’d almost certainly written about several gay or bi male footballers among the hundreds of match reports and transfer lines down the years – it’s just that those players weren’t out publicly. Now of course, we have many who are out in women’s football as well as those in roles in officiating, administration, player care, and associated parts of the game. When it’s the right time for others – and we can all contribute towards the cultural shift that will help to bring that day sooner for them personally – they can arrive at that moment of authenticity too.

Whether you’re playing, coaching, supporting or writing, inclusion is a team effort with a shared goal. Let’s all take Pride in the part we play so that everyone in football can achieve their very best.

Mike Calvin in conversation with Jacqui Oatley – June 7

The FWA are delighted to announce we have joined forces with Pitch Publishing for a special interactive video Q&A event with longstanding member and multi-award winning author Michael Calvin aimed at aspiring sports journalists and broadcasters.

 The event will be hosted by FWA National Committee member and broadcaster, Jacqui Oatley and both Michael and Jacqui will be sharing lessons from their respective careers.
The event will take place on Zoom at 1.00 pm on Monday, June 7 with more information here
 As columnist and chief sportswriter for several national newspapers, Michael covered every major event, including seven summer Olympic Games and six World Cup finals. A best-selling author, he is the only writer to win the book of the year prize, at the British Sports Book awards, in successive years. His latest book, ‘Whose Game Is It Anyway?’ is a must-read for everybody in the industry.
Jacqui is a sports presenter, football commentator and podcast host, providing live match commentary on the UEFA Champions League, as well as hosting ITV Sport’s live darts coverage and a weekly football podcast for The Athletic.
She is best known for being the first female commentator on Match of the Day which she presented in March 2015. Jacqui was awarded an MBE for her services to sports broadcasting in 2016.
The free event is open to all. To register your interest, please click here.
I hope you enjoy the event.
Kind regards
Paul McCarthy
Executive Secretary

FWA Student Football Writers of the Year – shortlist announced

Student Football Writer of the Year shortlist

We have had an astonishing 534 entries for our competition, which shows the amount of talent out there in universities and other educational institutions, and also the level of competition for these amazing prizes.

As well as the two trophies, named after our much-loved and much-missed former colleagues Vikki Orvice and Hugh McIlvanney, the winners will receive the five shortlisted titles in the FWA Football Book of the Year Award, free membership of the FWA for a year, an opportunity for work experience, plus the chance to benefit from mentoring from a member of the judging panel. There will also be a £500 prize for both award winners.

Jim White, of the Telegraph and FWA National Committee, has assembled a shortlist of 10 for each prize (below) and now is the time for our judging panel of eminent football writers and broadcasters, including Henry Winter, Alyson Rudd, Paul Hayward, Jacqui Oatley and Jonathan Liew to assess the work. They will be looking for three things: originality, insight and delivery.

The Vikki Orvice Award shortlist is:

Elana Shapiro, Caitlin Bennett, Louisa Keller, Even Morgan, Ella Graunia Cook, Amy Canavan, Cerys Holliday, Maddie Reader.

The Hugh McIlvanney Award shortlist is:

Fred Waine, Jack Tooth, Jacob Tanswell, Toby Bryant, Brendan Pitcher, Elias Baillif, Edmund Brack, Cameron Ponsonby, Adam Barker.

The winners will be announced in May. Good luck to all of you.

The late Vikki Orvice was a trailblazing female football writer.

Hugh McIlvanney was one of the all-time greats of sportswriting.  Pic: John Walton/PA Wire

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

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.