The Middlesex FA Awards Evening, now reinstated as an annual event after a Covid enforced absence, was held at the impressive Brent Civic Centre on Friday, 24th September and was a resounding success. Its content was inspiring and uplifting and was thoroughly enjoyed by the sizeable audience. It emphatically demonstrated that the future of the great game in our county is in safe hands. The depth of dedication by the volunteers receiving the awards ranged from very impressive to awe inspiring.
The evening was kicked off by Master of Ceremonies, Mike Heavey who, as usual, kept things moving efficiently but with a light touch. In his opening remarks, Mike thanked Elco Building Services for their generous support of the event.
He then introduced MFA Chief Executive, Leigh O’Connor, who thanked all of the people who had contributed to the completion of a very challenging season. He felt that it was a tremendous achievement by everyone concerned, numbering thousands. It was particularly pleasing that all of the league programmes and the Adult County Cups were succesfully completed. Leigh also paid tribute to the Emergency Services.
Two slides outlining Middlesex Football’s strategic plan for the next three years (2021-2024) were then shown. The plan, entitled “Leading from the Front” is designed to enable the game to rebuild, modernise and grow, following the severe impact of Covid 19. The aim is to ensure that Middlesex FA is at the heart of the community. We will work with and support our network of clubs, leagues, volunteers. players, referees, coaches and administrators to deliver this strategy and make everyone feel a part of Middlesex Football.
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Leigh then led a round of applause for the friends and colleagues that were sadly lost during the pandemic. Their number included some of the awards winners.
We then launched into the presentation of the awards, for both seasons 2019-20 and 2020-21.
Andy Kowalski, Peter Smith, Steven Rea, Bev Newman and Dave Leigh received awards from Middlesex President John Davies to mark their impressive 20 years of dedicated whistle blowing. A sad absentee from this distinguished company was the popular Isaac Jempeji, who passed away soon after his nomination.
Roger Hazell and Hasan Ali’s even more impressive 40 years’ service was honoured next.
The respective recipients of the Grassroots Awards were introduced by a short video presentation and then invited onto the stage to receive their award.
Leigh O’Connor took over the presentation duties and stayed with the refereeing theme, presenting the 2020 award to Andy Kowalski and the 2021 award to Andy Tooley, both extremely worthy winners for their ambassadorial roles as well as for their refereeing achievements.
This was also a National Award to Harefield United FC. It recognised the magnificent manner in which all those connected with the club, especially the players’ parents, rallied around to support their sons, following a tragic event at the club.
Gareth Chendlik, who has played for Hanwell Town for 3 seasons, earned this award for his tremendous efforts for his club. He was furloughed during the lockdown and helped with renovations, including painting fences and building a new board room. He also raised £800 for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation by completing the Sir Bobby Robson Football Run 10 times.
The 2020 Award went to Elsa Jones who also won the National Award. Elsa is a remarkable influence at Hanwell Town FC. She is the U18s matchday physio, takes the gate at every home match, organises the charities at home matches and comes up with money making ideas. She never stops in her efforts to make life better for the supporters.
17 year old Devon Jay Baxter of Hampton Rangers took the 2021 Award. Devon plays, coaches, referees and generally helps out at his club. He has even taken over the maintenance of their artificial turf training facility.
The 2020 Award was won by Tony Pratt of Rayners Lane, who also took the National Award. Tony has been with the club since 1968 and has performed an impressive variety of voluntary roles since then.
Linda Fox of Actonians Ladies took the 2021 Award. She helped form the club with just one team in 1998 and this has grown to 11 teams, allowing over 200 women and girls to play football every week. She ensures that all of the teams have fully trained coaches, good equipment and facilities, while keeping net costs down by actively obtaining sponsorships and grants.
Linda Fox made an immediate return to the stage to receive her award from MFA Past President, Jim Taylor.
Sadly, Dave Reader, the recipient of this award, passed away earlier this year. Dave left a tremendous legacy and he will never be forgotten by the football and the local communities. He was a founder member of Bedfont Sports FC, having previously run the successful Bedfont Sunday side, with his son Terry. He was the figurehead of the club for nearly 20 years, during which he worked tirelessly to develop Bedfont Recreation Ground into a first class venue, with a new changing room block, a 3G main pitch, a smaller one for use by the youth players and many improved spectator facilities. To finance all of this, he raised more than £2 million in grants and funding. The Award was presented to Terry by Middlesex FA Chairman, John Taylor.
John remained on stage to present these prestigious awards. The recipients were:-
John Bond, a former referee and well known and popular administrator. He initially became involved in 1969 at Hayes FC and subsequently served in senior positions at both Hayes and Hayes & Yeading United FC. He also became a Class One referee, Chairman of Ealing Referees Society and a County Referees’ Examiner and Assessor. He is currently First Team and Match Secretary at Uxbridge FC.
Tom White, who has been involved in football for almost 60 years, playing, volunteering and refereeing. He qualified as a referee in 1979 and achieved Class One status. He has been Chairman of North Middlesex Referees’ Society for the last 20 years.
Robin Machell, also a former Class One referee, is a former President of Ealing Referees’ Society. Robin is a dedicated administrator within Youth Football and joined Middlesex County Youth FA in 1991. He was the last President of the Youth Division before it merged into the MFA.
John Jackson is another former Class One referee. John’s refereeing career overlapped his playing career, which ended when he was aged 50. He started refereeing in 1974 and ended in 2008, with the middle of the Middlesex County League’s Alec Smith Cup final. He joined the MFA Council in 2002 and has held several prominent positions within that organisation.
After a short interval, the second half of the evening’s programme commenced with an interesting contribution by Tim Ridgewell, speaking on behalf of our Charity Partner, St Luke’s Hospice. Tim thanked MFA for their support and told us about the work of the hospice, which provides free end of life care and attention, specialist advice and support in Harrow and Brent. It helps around 1800 people each year.
John Taylor recommenced the presentations with the 2020 award to Ben Payne of Harefield United FC, who coaches 2 of his club’s youth teams as well as taking the newly formed ‘Mini Hares’ Saturday morning sessions.
The 2021 Award went to Chey Thompson, a committed and hardworking member of Northwood FC, who has overcome many personal challenges to passionately coach his team for 3 seasons.
The Award for 2020 went to Tarik Kaidi, who founded, runs and coaches Minds United FC, who play in the Middlesex FA North West London Mental Health Football League and provide a key service to those who need support.
The 2021 Award went to Danny Harrigan, Coach of Actonians Ladies FC, a club which has shown a significant improvement in performance, since he took charge.
Hanwell Town FC took the 2020 Award. Chairman, Bob Fisher proudly collected it on behalf of his club, which during the season performed key work around their ground, to make the club more accessible to elderly supporters and also further increased its involvement with their community and local charities. The club organised a matchday collection for Ealing Foodbank and wrote to elderly supporters during lockdown.
The 2021 winners, Omonia Youth, also took the National Award. They provided inspirational positive support for their players during and after lockdown, with an emphasis on mental wellbeing and safeguarding.
This was the Middlesex Youth Football League in 2020. Long standing committee members, Dave Chana and Laurence Cummings stepped down at the end of the season but in their last season, they demonstrated a keenness to innovate and progress the league. They worked closely with MFA to implement monthly RESPECT awards and became our pilot RESPECT league. Sadly, Laurence recently passed away.
The 2021 winners were the Capital Girls League. This league was supported by MFA since its formation in 2011 but ahead of the 2020/21 season, full control was given to a group of volunteers, most of whom were new to league administration. They have ably navigated their first year in charge, providing football to approximately 100 girls’ teams each weekend.
Tom Duffy and Glyn Jones of Hanwell Town took this prize in 2020. This duo is the key force behind the ground workings at the Powerday Stadium. Tom takes care of one of the best natural grass surfaces in Middlesex and Glyn is in charge of improving the walkways, building ramps, repairing the car park surface and much more.
Justin Goodman, volunteer Groundsman for Denham United Ladies FC, won the 2021 Award. He does a fantastic job, working with a limited budget and equipment, providing as many as 6 games per weekend on a single pitch, which is amazing on an undrained ground.
The 2020 winner was the Forget Me Not FC project run by Mick Harvey (who was recently a recipient of the FA 50 Year Long Service Award in a surprise ceremony) and his team at Uxbridge Amblers Walking Football Club. The project used the power of football to provide a release and an opportunity to meet for those with dementia and for those to who care for them.
Another walking football organisation, Barnet WFT, won the award in 2021. They offer football to over 100 players aged over 50. During the pandemic they started a cycling and walking group to keep the team active and connected. They also helped their local community with fundraising and supporting elderly people with shopping, errands and the delivery of food.
Our sponsors presented awards to the following:
Peter Proverbs, who has been the face of Acton Ealing Whistlers for more than 20 years, from coach to club secretary and everything in between.
Minds United FC, who were founded in 2019 and have rapidly grown to over 70 players with three separate training sessions per week. They joined the Middlesex FA NWL Mental Health League in March 2020 and are now an FA Charter Standard Club.
Daniel Harvey, whose hard work as Chair of the Middlesex FA Youth Council, helped the group to become an important part of the organisation.
The final award, presented by President John Davies, provided a fitting climax to a memorable evening. It was the first presentation of the newly inaugurated Middlesex FA Fellowship. Fittingly, it went to popular and distinguished Past President Derek Mennell.
Derek joined MFA in 1972, although he was active in football long before that. He has held several committee positions within the MFA, most notably Disciplinary Committee Chairman from 1985 to 2001. He became Vice Chairman of Council in 1997 and Chairman in 2001. He was installed as President in 2005 and held that position for 6 seasons.
Derek received the FA 50 Year Long Service Award in December 2009. He was a very active President, taking a keen interest in all of the County’s activities and those involved in them. This still applies today and he is an elected member of the Board of Directors. However, he readily admits that he would not have been able to commit so many hours to the Association, without the support of his lovely wife, Sheila.
Following the drawing of the raffle for some fabulous donated prizes, including signed football shirts, match tickets and coaching courses, County Chairman, John Taylor brought the proceedings to a close.
He thanked Elco Building Services for their kind sponsorship, Brent Council for the use of their wonderful facilities and their events team for their support in arranging the event. He also thanked the Middlesex staff, including the HQ Centre staff for the sumptuous buffet, our eloquent MC Mike Heavey, our Charity Partners St Luke’s Hospice and all of those attending.
He referred to the heart-warming stories, concerning the events of the last couple of years, that we had heard during the evening. He felt that the Middlesex Football family have risen to the challenge and that we could return to normality with a smile on our faces.
The event was a credit to our operations team. Congratulations, George Wells, Jacob Ballheimer and everyone else who was involved on the night. The videos provided by Jacob were superb. Finally, it was quite an achievement winning 4 of the National Awards.
As ever we thank Chris Benn for his contribution to the night, providing his excellent services taking photos as our guests arrived and during the ceremony, the photos can be found here.
Our Award Winner Videos for 2020 can be found here.
Our Award Winner Videos for 2021 can be found here.
Middlesex FA would also once again like to share our thanks with Dave & Michelle West from Elco Building Services for attending the Awards Evening, their support made the evening possible.