On Sunday night, the region’s football community came together to celebrate the very best of the 2010/2011 football season and to raise funds for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
Sponsored by Barclays, the 2011 North East Football Writers' Association awards dinner at Ramside Hall in Durham is a regular highlight in the region’s football calendar and this year was no exception.
The event was attended by players, managers, directors and officials from all of the north east football clubs including Alan Pardew and Tony Mowbray. It was also supported by Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer, who is a Patron of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
Hosted by BBC Radio 5 Lives’ Ian Dennis, entertainment was provided by popular local comedian Josh Daniels who faced stiff competition on the laughs front from Carlisle United manager Greg Abbott.
Middlesbrough's Joe Bennett was named Young Player of the Year and there were special awards for Whitley Bay FC, Carlisle United, Hartlepool’s Ritchie Humphreys and Darlington manager Craig Liddle. Newcastle United captain Fabricio Coloccini was crowned Player of the Year.
The event was originally due to be held on 27th November and was postponed following the sudden death of former Newcastle United and Wales footballer Gary Speed. Warm tributes were paid to Gary and also to Sunderland Echo journalist Ian Laws who died recently aged just 41.
This is the third year the North East Football Writers' Association has supported the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and this year, for the first time, the Association and the charity jointly made an award to honour one of the region’s most respected football professionals.
The inaugural North East Football Writers' Association’s Personality of the Year, in association with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, was awarded to Sunderland AFC’s Niall Quinn in recognition of his five years as the club's chairman and his wider contribution to the local community.
Niall was unable to attend and sent an appreciative video message, while the award was collected on his behalf by Sunderland’s 1973 FA Cup hero Jimmy Montgomery.
Colin Young, representing the North East Football Writers' Association, said: "We're really proud of our association with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. Not only was Sir Bobby a great communicator, he was a man held in esteem by the whole of our region and beyond and that's the essence of our dinner - that local rivalry gets put to one side as we celebrate the best of each other and ourselves.
"The fact that the Foundation is raising money which directly helps cancer patients from across the whole of the North East and Cumbria is another reason why the partnership is a perfect fit.
“We're honoured that Lady Elsie and her family agreed to support our Personality of the Year award and hope that we've established a new tradition in keeping with what's always a great night."
Since Sir Bobby and Lady Elsie launched the charity in 2008, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation has raised over £3.9 million to help find more effective treatments for cancer.
It funds projects within the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which directly benefit cancer patients from across the north east and Cumbria, including the clinical trials of drugs at the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre.
To make a donation, view messages of support, or for more information please visit www.sirbobbyrobsonfoundation.org.uk or donate by sending a cheque to Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, Room 203, Cheviot Court, Freeman Hospital, Newcastle upon Tyne NE7 7DN.