Net gains - who will win in the North West Football Awards?
They think it is all over-but not quite yet!
After all the most momentous year for North West football deserves extra time. Call it ‘Fergie Time’ if you will.
So, before the football family heads for the beaches or after recent events, a darkened room, there’s one last piece of any other business to attend to.
And that’s to officially launch the 2013 North West Football Awards; a chance to commemorate, celebrate and even commiserate the region’s great, good and not so good.
Lancashire Cricket Club’s spectacular Point conference centre will again host proceedings on November 4. BBC Television’s Football Focus host, Dan Walker, has been ‘appointed’ master of ceremonies for a second successive season.
Over the summer, the judging panel, including Gordon Taylor OBE, chief executive of the PFA, and former Football Association chief executive, Mark Palios, will draw up nominations for an extensive range of categories.
Indeed, for the first time and to recognise the growing popularity of women’s football, there will be a female player of the year.
Online voting opens on August 3 to coincide with kick-off for the new Football League season. A shortlist will be announced in mid-September and voting will continue until early October.
The NWFA is one of the must attend events on the football calendar. And if you thought last year was good, 2013 promises to be the best yet.
In a football season that has seen Britain’s most successful manager-Sir Alex Ferguson of Manchester United’s retirement after 26 trophy-laden years - the sports story of the year.
United’s record extending 20th top flight title and Wigan Athletic’s historic FA Cup triumph plus subsequent relegation from the Premier League were not far behind.
Last year’s NWFA quite rightly feted Manchester City’s inaugural Premier League success. So, what a difference 12 months makes.
Second best in league and cup, City parted company with manager Roberto Mancini after three years in charge. Well, that scarf needed a wash!
‘Bobby Blue’ was held in high esteem by City fans but so too were a host of frontline players who will also be missing from the game next season. So, take a bow: Paul Scholes, Jamie Carragher, Phil Neville and Michael Owen who also followed ‘Fergie’ into retirement.
Mark Halsey won’t be back either. One of football’s most popular referees hung up his whistle for the final time after City’s end of term home game against Norwich.
But the circle of life rolls on. And as one manager leaves the profession another slides in behind an office desk for the first time. With all the drama being played out in Manchester, former England striker James Beattie’s appointment as Accrington Stanley chief almost went unnoticed.
Lower down the football food chain still there were tears as Stockport County plunged to their lowest position in their history after relegation from the Conference. But the Hatters shouldn’t lose heart.
Chester City fell even further down the pyramid, went out of business but are now very much alive and kicking. Re-formed as Chester FC, they have just won a third success league title and will begin 2013/2014 in the Conference.
Cheshire rivals, Crewe Alexandra, also had plenty to cheer as goals from Luke Murphy and Max Clayton helped them lift the Johnstone Paints Trophy with a 2-0 victory over Southend United.
The NWFA also highlight work done off the pitch with awards for best club marketing campaign, best use of social media, business services to football and even journalist of the year.
Whether it is on the pitch or in the boardroom, the NWFA recognises the region’s finest contributors to the beautiful game. And Lancashire CCC on November 4, 2013 will be the place to rub shoulders with football royalty.