Trippier wins NE FWA Player of the Year

By Colin Young, North East FWA Chair

Newcastle United and England defender Kieran Trippier collected the North East Football Writers’ Association player of the year award at the annual awards dinner in Durham this week.

Trippier, 33, pipped Sunderland winger Jack Clarke and his Newcastle team-mate Joelinton to become the 45th winner of the award and 22nd from the club since its inception in 1980.

Middlesbrough midfielder Hayden Hackney joined Trippier to collect his young men’s player of the year award from Boro boss Michael Carrick along with Northern Ireland centurion and Durham’s Sarah Robson, who won the women’s award for the third year running, and Sunderland’s Katy Watson, winner of the inaugural young women’s player.

Trippier said: “It’s amazing. To be honest it could have been any of team-mates but I am absolutely delighted. You’ve got to cherish these moments.”

Although Newcastle manager Eddie Howe was unable to attend the event, he did send a message to Trippier as he collected his silver trophy, sponsored by William Hill, from FWA chairman John Cross.

In a video recorded after Newcastle’s win over Wolves the previous day, Howe said: “I wanted to say what a fantastic choice you’ve made in picking Kieran to be your player of the year. 

“He has been absolutely outstanding in every phase of play, whether that be creating goals or helping us not concede, not only that he also led the team incredibly well during different elements of the season and was always an inspiration off it to help the younger players as they develop in their careers.

“Congratulations to you Kieran, fully deserved in my opinion.”

Redcar-born, Hackney, a near ever-present since Carrick’s appointment last season, is the 16th winner of the young player award and the fifth from Middlesbrough’s impressive academy production line.

After Sunderland youngster Katy Watson had been presented with the first women’s young player of the year award by Sunderland Echo football writer Phil Smith, NEFWA chairman Colin Young handed over the women’s player of the year trophy to Durham Women’s Sarah Robson for keeps after her third successive win.

Northern Ireland international Robson said: “After the first year I really wanted to win it again and when I won it a second year, I thought, that’ll do me, I’m 36 now and I don’t think I’ve another chance but when it came to Christmas I thought, I’ve had a decent year. And it’s just amazing, I’m really proud.”

The North East annual awards night, hosted at the Ramside Hall Hotel and Spa in Durham by BBC Radio 5 Live chief football reporter Ian Dennis, would not be complete without its surprise element, and the personality of the year award, held in conjunction with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

Sunderland legend Gary Bennett MBE added the joint award to his long list of achievements in recognition of his achievements as the club’s record appearance holder, media pundit, a surviving prostate cancer campaigner and one of the founders of Show Racism The Red Card.

Each year the North East FWA branch recognises outstanding contributions to North East football with awards in memory of founding members Bob Cass and John Fotheringham.

Bob’s grand daughter Olivia Hayes presented the ‘Cassy’ award to long-serving scout Alex Smailes, who has served clubs and the Northumberland FA for more than 50 years and Alan Shearer sent a message of congratulations.

But for many in a packed Ramside Bishop Suite, the look on former FWA chairman and North East stalwart Paul Hetherington’s face when he realised he was in fact presenting the Fotheringham award to himself was the highlight of an enjoyable night.

And it was Peter Reid, the man who Paul played such a leading role in landing the Sunderland job, who happened to be on hand to present the John Fotheringham bowl.  

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