Saturday, 15 November 2014

Awards, Speeches and Blogs

The last four weeks have been something of a whirlwind.

Following on from the fantastic experience of seeing the network feature in the NME & the article on Brian Johnson's support for the network on Ultimate Classic Rock's facebook page gaining over 62,000 likes, November hasn't slowed down!

On the 6th November I headed down to London to Chelsea's Stamford Bridge stadium for the Football Business Awards. Safe to say we are working flat out on projects and bids at the moment, so co-founder Chris Wilkins stayed up in Scotland to carry on rolling out the weekly groups North of the Border (up to 31 weekly groups now & still rising).

The Football Business Awards

I hadn't quite realised just how big the Football Business Awards (@footiebizawards) are now. Over 600 people including many CEO's of Premier League Clubs,  the Chairman of the FA and non other than Sir Bobby Charlton were there. If the night couldn't get more exciting, one of the guests on the table I was allocated to just happened to be the man I watched from behind the goal at Highbury put my beloved QPR into the FA Cup final in 1982. An evening with Clive Allen!

The awards went by in something of a blur, with great company, excellent food and a few enjoyable beers. I was busy debating QPR's proposed stadium move with a fellow guest as Paul Thorogood, CEO of the Football Foundation announced the award for excellence for Best Football Community Scheme, which went to Crystal Palace Community Foundation. Thinking that was the top prize I turned back to start up the debate again as I heard the words 'and the overall winner is Sporting Memories Network'. Hopefully the spotlight and camera that suddenly appeared at the table didn't catch my initial verbal response at the shock!!

A brilliant night was topped off with an invite to pop into the talkSPORT studios the following day to appear on the Hawksbee & Jacobs show (@tshandj). It was a great chance to talk about the network, but also to voice some of the frustrations we face in encountering government agencies and Ministers who continue to choose not to engage with our work, let alone give it any backing. The guys kindly gave us a copy of the rather excellent Shirt Tales and Short Stories by Derek Hammond and Gary Silke, who had been in the day before to launch the book that examines the lost world of football kits.

The next six days were filled with project work, some excellent evaluation meetings, feedback sessions and evidence gathering for further developments across the existing and planned projects before we then headed across to Manchester for the next event.

The Football Blogging Awards 2014

Seven days later it was time to head to the National Football Museum for the Football Blogging Awards 2014 . The FBA's (@theFBAs) had very kindly nominated Sporting Memories as their partner charity and it was a real honour to be given the chance to hand out a couple of the trophies on the night.

Over 300 people packed into the National Football Museum (@footballmuseum) to eagerly await the winners of 11 categories that included Best Young Football Blog, Best Social Account and Best Video Football Blog. The quality of the work produced by the finalists really was eye opening, as was the impact they are having in the way football fans access news 24/7. Host for the evening was Sky Sports News presenter Kate Riley (@SkyKateRiley)

Congratulations to Paddy Power (@paddypower) and Unibet (@unibet) on their awards

After the final award had been handed out, the FBA's founders Anthony Cooper (@Cooper_FBAs) & Richard Green (@greenrichard87) kindly gave me time to introduce the work of Sporting Memories Network to the audience, to play Bill's Story and explain how those gathered could help out, influence and raise awareness of the project. There was a wonderful response from the room, truly humbling experience.

Final word goes to the guys at Campo Retro (@CampoRetro) who have kindly donated one of their brilliant shirts as a prize this month (Details here) and to Emma Wright (@emmabethwright) & Catherine Bayley (@CSBayley) from Clifford French for some great @Carlsberg moments!

Congratulations to all the shortlisted finalists, the trophy winners and all involved in a vibrant event.

Don't forget bloggers, all articles are welcome to be submitted to Replay Football!!

Thanks to all the folk I got to chat to at the awards and for the very kind offers of help, looking forward to catching up with you all!

Let's see what next week brings