Hugh McIlvanney, one of the great sportswriters of this or any other generation, has been honoured by the National Football Museum by being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Hugh, a proud FWA member, became the first football writer to enter the Hall of Fame, which includes some of the greatest names in the history of English football. He was inducted, along with players such as Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, at a gala dinner at the National Football Museum in Manchester on September 21st.
Hugh was unable to attend because of a surgical procedure, but his wife Caroline accepted the award on his behalf from FWA Chairman Paddy Barclay, who said: “In the 1950s and 1960s there were giants all over the world stage. Elvis Presley in music, in politics John F Kennedy and the latter day Winston Churchill. In sport we had Muhammed Ali and Pele, still considered the two greatest sportsmen of all time, and football management’s contribution to this generation of giants was Sir Matt Busby, It was Sir Matt’s great friend Hugh McIlvanney who was journalism’s contribution. That is the level that he reached, and that is why when the FWA was lucky enough to enter into a partnership with this fantastic institution, our choice as our first journalist to enter the Hall of Fame was an easy one.”
Hugh sent a recorded message of thanks to the event, which was also honouring Bob Wilson, Rachel Yankey, Kelly Smith and Gary Speed among others. He said:” It is a matter of deep regret to me that the need for some running repairs at the hands of the medical profession is preventing me from being with you tonight.
“I am particularly saddened to find myself denied the chance to convey in person the scale of my appreciation of the honour that comes with being inducted into the National Football Museum’s Hall of Fame. There are two strands to that appreciation; it is of course gratifying to know that enough people associated with the `Hall of Fame took a favourable – or at least tolerant – view of what I have written about the game over the years.
“But far more important than any individual induction is the fact that a basis seems to have been created for the establishment of a journalist category in the Hall of Fame. Before television ruled football, there was for generations a constantly fraught but mutually beneficial relationship between the sport and the print media, one that was unquestionably vital to the development of the professional game in Britain.
“The influence of newspapers in this, and other, fields may be shrinking fast but is still significant and in any case, the papers’ historical impact on the story of football makes a strong case for recognising in the Hall of Fame the unruly brotherhood of press box scribblers. If I’m seen to be representing them tonight, that makes me very proud.”
You can see a video Paddy’s speech, and Hugh’s acceptance speech, on our YouTuibe channel here: https://youtu.be/zuwultF0z9A
You can find out more about the National Football Museum’s and the Hall of Fame inductions over the years here: http://www.nationalfootballmuseum.com/news/ten-new-stars-added-to-the-hall-of-fame-in-2017