Chris Byrne wins top gong at FA Community Awards

Sunday 10 Aug 2014
Chris Byrne receives his award from Sir Geoff Hurst

Ribchester Football Club coach Chris Byrne has scooped the big prize at The FA Community Awards presented by McDonald's at Wembley.

The ceremony took place ahead of kick-off in Sunday's FA Community Shield and Chris was crowned this year's winner of the People's Award.

Now in its fifth year, The FA Community Awards shine a light on the tremendous efforts of the 400,000 volunteers who make grassroots football what it is. 

Chris Byrne

Chris Byrne coaches at Ribchester

The People's Award, one of eight honours handed out at Wembley, gave the power to the public who voted in their thousands for their chosen grassroots hero from an eight-strong shortlist. 

Selected as regional winners for their ‘Outstanding Contribution to Community Football’, Chris picked up the most votes to become the winner. 

He received his trophy from England's World Cup winner and McDonald's director of football, Sir Geoff Hurst, ahead of Arsenal's 3-0 victory over Manchester City.

Chris has been an inspirational member of Ribchester Football Club, based in Lancashire, for over 12 years and has been instrumental in the club’s development. 

He single-handedly re-launched the club after the senior team had folded and helped the club grow to over 80 members. He hosts weekly training sessions and regularly organises club tournaments. 

In addition to being a brilliant coach, Chris uses his motivational skills to mentor and encourage junior members to volunteer at the club.

Chris Byrne

The goals don't put themselves out

As well as the People's Award, their were seven other prizes presented at the national stadium. 

Sir Geoff said: “Volunteers and clubs like these are what keeps the grassroots game alive. 

“Their efforts give children and adults of all abilities the opportunity to enjoy and participate in a safe environment, and without them the game we know and love couldn’t exist.” 

National Award Winners

FA Charter Standard Development Club of the Year
Castleford White Rose FC 
Castleford completed their three-year development plan in year one, increasing football opportunities for women and locals. All coaches now have FA qualifications and the club is taking steps to secure a permanent home in the Leeds area. 

Coach of the Year
Allan Lambourne
Lambourne has coached youngsters at Selsey FC for seven years, increasing the number of players and teams, starting girls’ sides and recruiting new coaches.

FA Charter Standard Community Club of the Year
Berkhamstead Raiders

Founded in 1996, Berkhamstead Raiders now have 700 young players on their books. The club works closely with local schools over pitches and encourages coaches and referees to take qualifications and actively participate in running the club. 

Volunteer of the Year
Sue Bonnington
Bonnington has dedicated 17 years to Heanor Juniors FC, helping the club grow from three teams to 11. She covers numerous roles from training to sponsorship and welfare. 

Charter Standard League of the Year
Lancashire Sunday Football League

Formed more than 40 years ago, this league has more than 90 teams and is still growing. It ensures all matches are officiated by qualified referees and has high quality administration. 

Young Volunteer of the Year
Jakub Matweijszyn

A Hanwell Town player, Matweijszyn is also a Level 2 qualified coach who manages a school team, officiates at games, tends pitches in his lunch break and runs a homework club for players while studying for his A Levels.

FA Charter Standard Club of the Year
Bodmin Youth

The club has 200 members. It launched two girls’ sides and has plans for affiliation with Bodmin Town FC and to become an FA Community Charter Standard club.

By FA Staff