The Mail on Sunday’s Mark Pain has been crowned the inaugural Vauxhall Home Nations Football Photographer of the Year for 2011.

His England portfolio enabled him to beat the cream of English, Scottish, Northern Irish and Welsh sports photographers in an eagerly-contested competition.

Pain’s reward is to win the use of a Vauxhall Astra Sports Tourer, SRI Ecoflex, 1.7 CDTI (125ps) car for one year.

He also collects a £500 cheque for winning the English heat. In the final, Pain beat off the challenge of other national winners William Cherry (Northern Ireland), Craig Williamson (Scotland) and Andrew Orchard (Wales).

In the individual best photo category, the winners were:

England (Tom Jenkins, The Guardian/Observer)
Northern Ireland (Darren Kidd, Press Eye)
Scotland (Laurence Griffiths, Getty Images)
Wales (Andy Couldridge, Action Images)

Chris Hornbuckle, Vauxhall Head of Sponsorship, said; “Our intention with these awards is to celebrate and reward the art of football photography.

“We have been truly overwhelmed and stunned by the quality of the entrants and the substantial interest our awards have created within the photography profession.

“Mark Pain was the unanimous choice of our panel to win the top award. His portfolio captured the very essence of international football.

“He delivered an extremely impressive selection and combination of action and portrait imagery which conveyed the excitement, drama and passion of this sport at international level.

“The competition for these awards was extremely fierce and our judging panel felt the overall standard was incredibly high.”

Mark Pain said: “It’s a great honour to be crowned the first Vauxhall Home Nations Football Photographer of the Year.

“I speak on behalf of all sports photographers when I say a big thank you to Vauxhall for introducing this competition and I know that it has stimulated a great deal of interest.”

Vauxhall introduced the new Home Nations Football Photography Awards to celebrate the skill of international football photography.

Vauxhall, proud sponsors of the England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland national football associations, will be unveiling details of the 2012 Awards later this year.

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