The annual North East Football Writers awards bash at Ramside Hall took place on Sunday night.
I’ve always thought it strange to give out football awards for a calendar year; essentially you are measuring achievement from January to early May.
The ceremony was presented by Five Live’s Ian Dennis, who was firstly tasked with giving the range of apologies from North East Football’s glitterati.
A message from Rafa to say he was sorry he couldn’t make it as the fixture list hadn’t been kind. It’s a long way to Norwich but surely he hadn’t set off yet?!
The NUFC table was gifted to the NUFC foundation as seemingly not a single representative from the club attended. This did seem like poor form as both Sunderland and Middlesbrough sent along their Chief Executives and a first team representative.
Mark Clattenburg was the recipient of the award for services to North East Football but the presenter was left somewhat embarrassed, as he had been told just before going up that Clattenburg couldn’t make it either, his excuse was a missed flight from London. Again this seemed a bit strange given he had the Saturday lunchtime game at the Emirates, a stone’s throw from Kings Cross station. Maybe he only travels by jet nowadays, or maybe he was booked in for a new tattoo to commemorate his latest honour?
Middlesbrough won the team of the year award for coming 2nd in the championship, time for a highlights reel of their season which culminated in them holding aloft that 2nd place trophy on the last day of the season. I hadn’t realised you got a trophy for 2nd place in the championship.
Maybe it would have been nice to give the team award to Morpeth Town for their against the odds upset win against Hereford in the FA Vase final. Although having said that Whitley Bay, Dunston, Spennymoor and North Shields have all ensured the Vase has stayed in the North East for 7 of the last 8 years, a remarkable feat. Anyway, I digress.
Back to the awards and Steve Harper picked up North East Man of the year. He gave a genuine and heartfelt acceptance speech which was warmly received and which touched upon his experiences of depression within the game and the lack of support for players once they’ve finished.
Steph Houghton, the England Ladies skipper, deservedly won the Women’s player of the year but again, wasn’t on hand to collect the award personally.
Jordan Pickford won the young player gong and went up on stage to a chorus of “Jordan Pickford get the rave on” from his well-oiled friends and family members. I’m not quite sure what Jimmy Montgomery who presented the award made of it all.
Jermaine Defoe picked up the Player of the year award and attended with his Mother and other family members. He spoke genuinely about Bradley Lowery when asked and made sure everybody was obliged for an autograph and/or photograph before he left. He had an early flight to New York on Monday morning. A team bonding trip for David Moyes and the players it would seem.
As the night drew to a close I saw on the back of the programme the list of previous recipients of the main award.
I was astonished to see Alan Shearer had only won the award once, in 2003. Sir Les had beaten him out in 1996 despite the Euro 96 golden boot and that year spanning his second and third Premier league golden boots.
Maybe he wasn’t the preferred choice of the predominantly Sunderland supporting press corp of the time, or indeed in the years that followed?
All things considered it seemed most people had a good time, even if it was a school night. The event raised money for the Sir Bobby Robson foundation and some video footage of the great man was a moving tribute to a true North East legend.
(NB With it being the North East Football Writers do, maybe somebody would have wondered who (2013) Yohan Kabaye and (1987) David McCreary were…)