Former England Blind football captain Dave Clark presented the Respect and Fair Play Awards
Former England and Great Britain Blind football captain Dave Clarke presented The FA’s 2012-13 Respect and Fair Play Awards to football’s grassroots heroes at The FA Cup with Budweiser 2013 Final.
Clarke, who was Guest of Honour at Wembley Stadium, enjoyed an incredible international career which included 128 goals in 144 appearances, the last of which came at the conclusion of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Before Wigan Athletic’s famous 1-0 win over Manchester City, Clarke joined FA Chairman David Bernstein alongside other guests in honouring the leagues, clubs and individuals who have helped promote respect and fair play and drive up standards of behaviour whilst supporting referees at all levels of the game.
This year’s FA Respect and Fair Play Awards saw 12 winners from a record number of 470 nominations, including the Bobby Moore Individual Award winner Andy Lowe, chairman of the Harrow Youth League.
2013 is a particularly special year for The FA as it celebrates its 150th anniversary, indeed, as FA Chairman David Bernstein added: “In the 150th anniversary year of The FA, it is more important than ever that we highlight those individuals, clubs and leagues which ensure football continues to be a force for good.”
A summary of the work each 2012-2013 FA Respect and Fair Play Award national winner has carried out is below. The FA Respect and Fair Play Awards which recognise outstanding achievement in the Football League and Premier League will be announced at the end of the season following the conclusion of all fixtures.
Also, click here to see YOUR top ten Respect stories.
National League System Steps 1-4 League Award
Northern Premier League
The Northern Premier League has now won The FA’s Respect Award three times in the last four years. This is only possible because the League continues to improve standards of behaviour year-on-year. After having been pipped by the Football Conference in 2012 the League led by its Respect Ambassador Phil Bradley redoubled its efforts and this has led to further improvements – reducing dissent and dismissals for foul and abusive language offences and an increase in the number of ‘excellent’ marks for technical area behaviour. At a highly competitive level of football, four years of continuous improvement is a remarkable achievement. Within these figures there are a number of clubs which four years ago had some of the worst disciplinary records in the National League system but today are much improved.
National League System Steps 5-7 League Award - joint winners
The Northern League
The Northern League has for many years attempted to address Respect–related issues particularly regarding offensive language. For 2012/13 the League decided to introduce the use of secret shoppers. This involved the appointment of anonymous monitors to assess matches under four categories – players’ language, technical area language and discipline and spectator behaviour. Each category is marked out of five and any scores of two or lower are entered into a concerns file and immediately reported to the clubs concerned. Each club will have 10-12 shopper assessments home and away and the indications are that this approach is having a significant impact on changing behaviour. Findings are collated into a table and officials from the eight worst performing clubs were visited by league committee members and poor performance was discussed. Subsequently all but one of the bottom eight has substantially improved their average mark. The League also adopted the use of The FA’s ‘Use your Head’ campaign which focuses on the impact of bad language in small stadia with all promotional resources being customised to reflect the commitment of The Northern League.
The Somerset County League
The Somerset County League has during the past 12 months achieved Charter Standard status. The League has been committed to Respect for the last three seasons but this season has looked at ways of enhancing the relationship between clubs, club officials and match officials with four major projects. This has involved a Respect Rewards Scheme which makes presentations to clubs after 10 and 20 matches and then again at the end of the season. The league has committed £2k to this scheme. The League has sponsored referees courses specifically to provide assistants in Step 7 leagues. The league is of the opinion that having trained assistants and coaches will greatly improve poor behaviour on the touchline. To this end they have committed over £6k of their own money. The League has also organised a joint referee and managers’ forum. Although there was some scepticism the forum took place with 15 club officials and 50 referees in attendance and the feedback was so positive that the League are considering it as an annual event. Finally the League has implemented Respect monitoring with poorly behaved clubs receiving regular visits.
Grassroots Youth League Award – joint winners
Norfolk and Suffolk Youth Football League
The NSYFL is a Charter Standard League with 100% of clubs having attained this status. This league won a Respect bronze award in 2012 and have redoubled their efforts to achieve greater recognition. Having approached Howard Webb they have produced their own posters and handbook pages using Howard’s image to promote respect of referees. The Respect handshake is staged prior to games, touchline spectator areas are compulsory and the use of a fulltime match card identifies poor behaviour when it (rarely) occurs. One of the NSYFL committee members has a responsibility to follow up on poor reports. Every effort is made to visit all clubs in the course of a season and use is made of the CFA’s educational programmes. As a consequence complaints have reduced by 50% this season. A Fair Play award is available for every division and all team members receive a medal, equipment and free affiliation for the following season. The league is proud of its achievements but is driven by its desire to be the ‘safest place to play football’ for our boys and girls.
Surrey Youth League
The Surrey Youth League has always been a staunch supporter of the Respect programme. They believe that the promotion of Respect is core to the success of the League and are of the opinion that since its introduction there has been a dramatic reduction in poor behaviour. The League has already implemented many of the Respect measures but this season have added to the programme by requiring the compulsory completion of the online parents guide for clubs identified by its marking system as problematic, the establishment of a dedicated Respect Officer position on the management committee, a series of Respect day events and the requirement that every club has a designated Respect Officer so that the League can work with someone at every club to uphold the programme. The value of Respect is highlighted in virtually every aspect of the operation, management, monitoring and communication of the League and the results of this can be seen in the enjoyment of its participants every weekend.
Grassroots Adult League Award
Stockton Sunday Football League
Sunday morning football can be a difficult place for young referees to gain experience and develop their skills. However, the situation for referees in Durham is made easier thanks to the efforts of the Stockton Sunday League which takes referees from the local junior league and supports their introduction into senior football. League Committee members regularly attend games to watch and support and this has contributed to two referees gaining promotion to Level 4. Every game in the League is covered by a qualified referee and excellent relationships have evolved with the local referee’s society. The league also runs a ‘Good Conduct’ fund which all clubs achieving marks over an agreed threshold benefit from.
National League System Steps 1-4 Club Award
Nantwich Town were one of the first football clubs in the country to be awarded Charter Standard Community Club status in 2003. The club prides itself on a youth section of 25 teams feeding into its senior team who play in the Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division. What is particularly impressive about Nantwich is the adoption of a philosophy that the senior team and management set the standard in discipline and behaviour. At the time of nomination Nantwich had achieved 32 excellent and no ‘poor’ gradings for its technical area behaviour, not a single dissent caution or dismissal for foul and abusive language. As a consequence Nantwich top a very competitive Fair Play Table for the Northern Premier League. The club’s embrace of Respect is embedded in its approach to coaching and this has been identified by the FA previously as good practice.
Women’s Pyramid league Award
Midland Women’s Combination League
The MWCL have sought to embed Respect into the operation of its leagues. Respect is a permanent agenda item at all league meetings and the approach is taken forward by the use of codes of conduct, a club marking scheme, referee awards, support for new referees, a Fair Play Award and the targeting of poorly performing clubs via a direct approach to Club Chairman and managers. The impact of this approach can be seen in an improvement in the League’s disciplinary position. The MWCL has seen yellow cards reduce by 36%, red cards 77% and a 50% reduction in the League’s collective disciplinary points.
Women's Football Pyramid Club Award
Yeovil Town Ladies Football Club
Yeovil Town Ladies won this award in 2012 and have continued to set standards in Women’s football. The club have adopted a very businesslike approach to their promotion of Respect . For instance they have introduced the use of a ‘Visitor’s Respect and Customer Care form for their opponents to complete after each home game. This asks visiting teams to score the club on matters such as ‘How did you rate our hospitality for your fans?’ and ‘How well did our players adhere to the Respect Code of Conduct? To date the club have averaged 4.5 out of 5 and achieved maximum marks for 75% of fixtures. Yeovil have strengthened the ‘Club Fans Bill of Rights’ and responded to the challenges and opportunities presented by Social Media by the implementation of a policy which promotes – even in the face of provocation – the responsible and respectful use of Twitter and Facebook.
Grassroots Club Award
Hebburn Town Junior FC
Hebburn’s promotion of Respect began with a focus on its 40 voluntary coaches. Following a Coaches workshop there was recognition that ‘behaviour breeds behaviour’ and those coaches have a responsibility as role models for children. The club also held a Respect week, the highlight of which was the staging of a ‘Role Reversal’ match every evening for a full week. Parents and spectators became the players whilst the children and adult spectators demonstrated various types of non respectful behaviour that is regularly witnessed such as booing, vocal criticism, ridicule and pitch invasions. After the match parents were debriefed and for some this brought about ‘light bulb’ moments as to what it can be like to be a child playing football. The club concluded the evening by showing The FA’s online film and handing out specially made Respect cards that can be carried in wallets as a reminder. Hebburn have also introduced a ‘Club Welcome meeting ‘for new parents where they are introduced to the clubs policies and rules.
Bobby Moore Award
Andy Lowe is the driving force behind the Harrow Youth League and the Harrow Soccer 7s Combination. What marks Andy out is not only the size of these leagues which involve 600 teams and 10,000 players in the age range seven to 18 but the way in which the League and clubs have embraced Respect. In the last five years the leagues have experienced growth of 11-13% year-on-year and the positive way in which the leagues operates the Respect programme is frequently cited as the reason that clubs wish to join or remain in the League. This ethos has only been achieved through Andy’s voluntary commitment of 45–50 hours a week to ensure the close interaction of those that manage the league, its member clubs, managers, players and referees. This results in Andy attending up to eight games every weekend. He does not however shy away from dealing with difficult matters. For example in January this year after reports about the behaviour of the parents of a particular team Andy attended their next match and asked to meet with all parents before the game to reinforce the requirements of the league. Andy’s work is well received by the 250 referees of the League which results in 98% match coverage - a remarkable figure for such a large youth league. Andy’s achievements are also attracting attention elsewhere and he recently hosted a Dutch camera crew keen to take lessons from Middlesex back to the Netherlands.
County FA Respect Award
This new award recognises the work of County Football Associations in the promotion of Respect. Manchester CFA distinguished themselves from other impressive entries through an approach which promotes Respect throughout the work of the Association. A Respect Working Group brings together officers with a responsibility for leagues, welfare, referees, clubs, communication and discipline. The group works collectively to embrace Respect education, delivery, and rewards. MFA have provided ambassadors with Respect kit and resources, delivered active workshops for leagues to share good practice, provided guest speakers for individual league and clubs and staged -Youth League Respect Road shows.
All, bar one, of the MFA leagues are Respect leagues and the CFA have produced a template for leagues to help monitor team behaviour, identify trends and act upon them regarding Respect. This approach is balanced by monthly rewards for those clubs and leagues that lead the way. Other examples of Manchester FA’s integrated approach are Referee Officers working with all leagues to ensure the Respect handshake is carried out at start of games and the provision of a Respect recap at the pre-season Referee’s development evening. MFA also incorporated Respect into their Manchester Youth Development Event, highlighting the importance of Respect in the youth review changes. This led to one of its youth leagues trialling 'technical areas' for coaches, as a response o poor conduct on a central venue site. MFA have a monthly award for Respect sponsored by GMPA, this can be awarded to any club, referee, player, volunteer, league, parent nominated for good practice. MFA’s Charter Standard working group also champions Respect in its work and ensure that standards are being maintained in its key clubs and leagues.
Full List of Winners
|Northern Premier League||National League System Steps 1 - 4: League|
|Ebac Northern League||National League System Steps 5 - 7: League|
|Somerset County Football League||National League System Steps 5 - 7: League|
|Nantwich Town Football Club||National League System Steps 1 - 4: Club|
|Midland Women's Combination League||Women's Pyramid: League|
|Yeovil Town Ladies Football Club||Women's Football Pyramid: Club|
|Stockton Sunday Football League||Grassroots Adult League|
|Norfolk and Suffolk Youth League||Grassroots Youth League|
|Surrey Youth League||Grassroots Youth League|
|Hebburn Town Juniors FC||Grassroots Club|
|Andy Lowe||Bobby Moore Individual Award|
|Manchester FA||County FA Award|
|Tbc on completion of fixtures||Premier League|
|Shrewsbury Town FC||FL 1|
|Crewe Alexandra FC||FL 1|
|Bradford City||FL 2|