While this season’s football story is still being written, on 24th February the region’s clubs will be putting differences to one side and coming together to celebrate the top performances of the previous year.
Sponsored by Barclays, the North East Football Writers’ Association Awards Dinner at Ramside Hall Hotel in Durham is an annual highlight in the local football calendar.
It is an opportunity to showcase the best in north east football and will be attended by a star-studded guest list including players, managers, directors and officials from all of the region’s clubs.
Once again, the dinner will raise money for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and over the last three years the event has raised more than £12,000 for the north east cancer charity.
Sir Bobby was a regular guest at the dinner and last year a new award was introduced to recognise those individuals closely connected to north east football that, like the former Newcastle united manager, had also made a significant contribution to the wider community.
This year the recipient of the North East Football Writers’ Association’s Personality of the Year, in association with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, will be former Newcastle United, Sunderland AFC and Hartlepool defender Robbie Elliott.
Robbie received a landslide vote in recognition of his great efforts raising money to fight cancer through Bike For Bobby, a 3,500 mile cycle ride between all the clubs managed by Sir Bobby.
Robbie says: “I’m really honoured to be chosen for this award. In fact, I was blown away when I was told about it.
“I’d like to thank the North East Football Writers’ Association for thinking of me. Bike for Bobby is something I’m personally very proud of but it really was an amazing team effort.
“Phil Gray who cycled every mile with me, my trainer Nick Grantham and the support team on the road and back at home, all volunteered their time to help make Bike For Bobby a success. They were amazing. So really, this award is for them as much as me and I’m pleased to say thanks from all of us.”
Awards for performances on the pitch were more tightly contested than the Personality of the Year. After a close vote, the North East Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year for 2012 will be awarded to Sunderland AFC goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, while the Young Player award will go to Middlesbrough FC’s Jason Steele, also a goalkeeper.
Colin Young, secretary of the North East Football Writers’ Association, says: “It’s inevitable that there are disagreements about who should win which award, that’s what makes the night so special.
“We’re football journalists so we all have strong opinions but there were no disagreements about selecting Robbie. His efforts raising money to fight cancer were absolutely remarkable. He deserves this recognition and more.
“This is always a special night and it’s good to look back over last season and take a break from what’s happening this year. It’s also one of the rare occasions when all of the region’s clubs come together and it seems very fitting to be raising money for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.”
The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation funds projects within the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust that directly benefit cancer patients from across the north east and Cumbria, and which contribute significantly to research into the disease.
In the last year, Lady Elsie officially opened the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation PET Tracer Production Unit, which was jointly funded by the charity and Newcastle University. The charity also announced it was contributing £850,000 towards life-saving new cyber surgery equipment at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.
Both of these major advances in treatment and tumour detection for cancer patients will work in tandem with the clinical trials of new drugs within the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre.