Dons Trust Board member Tim Hillyer attended the annual Football Supporters’ Federation awards event, and was impressed by how prestigious an occasion it has become.
The run-up to Christmas signals the start of the season of awards presentations. The Football Supporters’ Federation kick off the annual prize-giving merry-go-round with a formal dinner interspersed with speeches. A measure of the increasing stature of this event is the number of high-profile guests in attendance this year, including such well-known names as Gordon Taylor (Chief Executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association), John Motson, Martin Tyler and Robbie Savage.
Hosted by James Richardson, the proceedings were slickly presented. Unlike the Oscars, there were no mishaps with wrong envelopes. Nor was there a precursor of the embarrassing breakdown of the live link to Sir Mo Farah at the culmination of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards.
The main awards are for the best players, male and female; the rest of the list is centred around services to supporters and from the various media, including podcasts and bloggers. The quality of the award-winners was very high – anyone looking for a template of excellence need look no further than the nominees in the appropriate category.
In recent years, the winners of the Men’s Player of the Year award have been (in reverse date order): Philippe Coutinho, Alexis Sánchez, Sergio Agüero and Luis Suárez, several of whom appeared in person to collect their trophy. Unfortunately this year’s winner, Harry Kane, was away with his team on European Champions League duty. In a pre-recorded clip, he said: “I want to say a big thank you to the Football Supporters’ Federation – it’s something I’m extremely proud to receive. To have the support of fans from all across the country is mind-blowing, really.”
Women’s Player of the Year, Jill Scott, couldn’t be there to receive her award, decided by a panel of women football journalists, but all the other winners came along to collect their prizes. Picking up his fifth successive Commentator of the Year Award, Martin Tyler recalled a telegram he received from John Motson at the start of his career. It was brief and to the point: “Talk little, but say a lot.”
While handing over the Fanzine of the Year prize, James Richardson could not resist commenting: “An Arsenal title – it’s a while since we’ve seen one of them.” Another multiple winner was The Guardian, for the fourth time in a row. Yet again, a fans’ favourite was Gary Neville, Pundit of the Year for the third time, jumping into the lead over Jamie Carragher, who has two wins. The Radio Show of the Year was, for the second time in three years, awarded to 606 on BBC 5Live. Robbie Savage accepted the trophy, citing “intelligent debate” on his show, which attracted some laughter and knowing glances.
The highlight from a Wimbledon perspective was when Martin Tyler presented John Motson with his Lifetime Achievement award. When asked which was the favourite of the highlights he had listed in various interviews to mark his fifty-year career, he said, without thinking, “But ‘the Crazy Gang have beaten the Culture Club’ after Wimbledon overcame Liverpool in the 1988 Cup Final, now that was entirely spontaneous. It just came to me.”
The winners of the 2017 FSF Awards in partnership with Virgin Media
Men’s Player of the Year
Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
Women’s Player of the Year
Jill Scott (Manchester City Ladies)
Away Day of the Year
Blogger of the Year
Kieron O’Connor (Swiss Ramble)
Club Podcast of the Year
Amber Nectar (Hull City)
Commentator of the Year
Fans for Diversity Award
Blues 4 All (Birmingham City)
Fanzine of the Year
The Gooner (Arsenal)
Newspaper of the Year
Online Media of the Year
Podcast of the Year
Pundit of the Year
Radio Show of the Year
Supporter Liaison Officer of the Year
Jason Taylor and Ian Wadsworth (Wigan Athletic)
Writer of the Year
Jonathan Wilson (various media)