First of all, thank you to everyone who got involved with the Northwest Football Awards this year. You’re the reason why we are celebrating our greatest year yet.
Laura Wolfe, managing director of NWFA said: “I’m pleased to say that these awards have been the most successful in our history and I would like to thank our sponsors MBNA for helping to ensure that they get more spectacular every year. Also a huge thank you to the Northwest footballing community who help to make these awards engaging and fiercely competitive – as all football should be!”
The evening kicked off with a charismatic Dan Walker leading the 500 strong room of Northwest footballing personalities, being his usual, witty self as the first batch of community orientated awards were delivered – with Blackpool, Everton and Wigan’s community organisations picking up Community Initiative of the Year and Community Club of the Year Premier League/All Other Leagues respectively.
Everton went on to secure a calm and composed brace as they picked up the Best Club Sponsorship/Marketing & Engagement Award. This led to a huge surge in votes for Ross Barkley to win Goal of the Year to the point where ‘#NWFA2014’ began trending on Twitter in Liverpool. Barkley was neck and neck with Joe Garner for the duration of the evening, but Preston North End’s target man dramatically took home the gold by just a single tweet.
Over to the red half of Merseyside and we saw a stunning Liverpool hat-trick as England international Raheem Sterling picked up the Premier League Player of the Year award. Sterling, not 20 until next month is the third successive Liverpool winner after defenders Martin Skrtel in 2012 and Jamie Carragher just one year ago. He took the honour ahead of Everton’s Seamus Coleman and Mancunian duo, Yaya Toure of City and United’s David De Gea.
We also witnessed a heartfelt tribute to Sir Tom Finney, a touching presentation by Margaret Aspinall for Kenny Dalglish’s Lifetime Commitment Award and also a passionate video and speech from lifelong Blackburn Rovers fan and ‘Unsung Hero’ award winner, Alan ‘Birdy’ Birkbeck.
Elsewhere, we saw a double appearance from Sean Dyche, speaking twice on the night on behalf of himself and promising youngster Danny Ings as they picked up Manager of the Year and Championship Player of the Year respectively.
Joe Garner (Preston North End), Conor McLaughlin (Fleetwood Town) and Luke George (Southport) picked up the respective prizes for League One, League Two and Conference.
Marcos Lopes, Manchester City’s Brazilian born, Portuguese Under 21 international, was voted the North West’s Rising Star.
We also saw wins for Manchester City’s Steph Houghton, who won Female Player of the Year, Manchester United physiotherapist, Les Parry who was presented the Fabrice Muamba Award for Medical & Sports Science Professional by Mr. Muamba himself.
‘Business Services to Football’ was retained by Rippleffect for their high quality work within football, Mills & Reeve scooped Professional Services to Football and The Daily Mirror’s football correspondent, David McDonnel secured ‘Journalist of the Year’.
Overall, it was a brilliant night for all of us here at the Northwest Football Awards, thanks again for helping us to host our best awards yet.