The decision to form the FWA was made by four journalists on board a ship in the middle of the English Channel on September 22 1947. The four were returning from Brussels, where they had seen England beat Belgium 5-2 in a friendly international, and are listed as Messrs Cole, Roy Peskett, Archie Quick, and Charles Buchan. The latter was the most famous of the four, having been an England international before becoming a successful journalist and founding the legendary Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly.
Within a month they had formalised some of the rules and regulations for the fledging association, membership would be invitation only, to “working journalists who are accredited football correspondants for newspapers and agencies.” Headquarters were to be in London with the initial membershp fee set at five guineas for the first year, and two guineas annually thereafter – with an FWA tie included!
Photo courtesy of The Times/NI Syndication
Sir Stanley Matthews
It was also decided to hold an annual vote of members for their Footballer Of The Year, still the oldest and most prestigious individual award in the domestic game. The award would be presented at the annual dinner, which was originally held on the eve of the FA Cup final – this has long since settled into the Thursday before each Cup Final.
The first winner, in 1948, was arguably the greatest footballer England has produced, Sir Stanley Matthews, and he won this coveted title again in 1963.
Sir Stan embodies everything the cup stands for – not just footballing ability, but for behaviour on and off the pitch. Membership grew to around 200 by the 1960s and is now around 400, with regional branches in the Midlands, North and North-East all thriving.
Membership of the Football Writers Association has continued to grow steadily, to around 400 with regional hubs in the north-west, north-east, Midlands and London. With the changes in modern-day journalism, FWA members now come from more diverse backgrounds rather than the once traditional newspaper reporter.
The Association has also needed to develop quickly in recent years, with on-line voting for Footballer of the Year now also available to members, while in 2011 the FWA relaunched our website to incorporate new social media platforms all of which help improve communication.
We remain proactive in taking up members issues with both clubs as well as the Barclays Premier League and Football League, whether it be over disputed access or press facilities, and the FWA also acts to guide clubs who are looking to redevelop their own stadia, with recent improvements at Brighton a case in point.
The FWA continues to openly recruit new members and welcomes any input as to how to make covering the beautiful game a smooth working environment for all.