Cumberland FA award winner

Cumberland's shining stars of 2023 celebrated at awards evening

Cumberland FA recently hosted an evening of celebration for the 2023 Grassroots Football Award Winners in Cockermouth.

Each year, these Awards are another opportunity to celebrate the people who make grassroots football great for everyone across Cumberland – fantastic volunteers take on a variety of roles to enable grassroots football to be played for so many across the county, making a positive difference.

In  2023, more than 5000 nominations were made across the country, Cumberland were one of the County FA’s who surpassed their ‘personal best’ of nominations received for the categories. We rely on the grassroots community to nominate those who they think have made an impact, and we also thank all those who take the time to make a nomination.

We were delighted to welcome England Amputee International Thomas Atkinson as our special guest to the Grassroots Football Awards evening and present our winners with their Awards.

Thomas, with 26 England Caps plays his football for Portsmouth FC and Legia Warsaw. Starting as a youngster playing outfield for Carlisle City and then Northbank, Thomas was signposted to an England Amputee session and made his England Under 21 debut at 15 as a gaolkeeper before a full call up at 17.

At only 20 years old, Thomas has already achieved so much, including these accolades:

1 Nations League Winner 2023, 1 Nations League Best Goalkeeper 2023, 1 Champions League Best Goalkeeper 2023, 3 League Cups, 1 EAFA Premiership Title, 2 EAFA Premiership Golden Glove

This weekend, Thomas will captain Portsmouth against Everton in the FA Cup Final at St George’s Park! Everyone from the Cumberland football community wishes Thomas the best of luck for this game which takes place on Saturday 29 June (live on TNT Sports at 10am). 

Following Thomas’s inspirational football story, our guests enjoyed food from Tilia Restaurant, before receiving their Awards.


Coach Of The Year – Female Pathway - Katie Adams (Gillford Park)

Katie has made a huge impact supporting girls football in Carlisle for a number of years, including leading the Weetabix Wildcats sessions which have seen more than 160 taking part since it began in 2020. Having led a number of Gillford Park JFC teams and coached at Cumbria Football Academy delivering on the girls pathway, Katie’s positive impact has been seen on many female footballers across the county.

On the nomination form, one comment included “Katie is an amazing coach, she puts the girls first and foremost in her sessions, she definitely wants the girls to achieve their potential and for girls football to improve and grow in Carlisle and the surrounding areas.”

Cumberland FA award winner

Coach Of The Year – Male Pathway - Damon McRea (Aspatria JFC)

Damon has been a key driver of Aspatria Junior Football Club since it restarted following the pandemic. Prior to the restart, children in the town had to travel elsewhere to play football or simply miss out. As well as coaching a number of teams, the award winner is also the club secretary role.

His passion, dedication and desire to educate not only the children on the game of football, but also the parents, carers and club coaches too. He makes it his mission to ensure the children have a safe space to learn, make mistakes and have fun with no pressure from the side lines.

A comment on the nomination stated “The whole town is thriving when there are matches on and they are so well attended. It’s more than football it’s a community. Damon made this happen.”

Cumberland FA award winner

Coach Of The Year – Disability Pathway - Roman Todd (Windscale Pan Disability)

Roman has been running the Windscale disability team for a number of years and has been a fundamental reason for their continued growth, from sorting kits to organising training and matches.

Roman is a fantastic role model, who’s hard work and commitment has had a positive impact on so many players in the grassroots game.

On his nomination, we were told “I would love for him to get this Award to show that his hard work and commitment has not gone unnoticed and to show how much he is appreciated” 

Cumberland FA award winner

Grounds Team Of The Year - Raymond Patterson (Cleator Moor Celtic)

Ray is a retired volunteer who cuts 3 pitches week in week out and keeps the Cleator Football pitches in top condition. 

Not only does he use his time to look after the pitches, he sorts the waste, toilets, organises the seeding, fertilising and basically has a hand in everything to provide children with the safe space to play football.

According to the nomination form, the surfaces have improved dramatically because of Ray and therefore the experience for the children has hugely improved. 

Included in the nomination was the comment: “We cannot play and have the exceptional surface like we do without Raymond's outstanding dedication.”

Cumberland FA award winner

Club Of The Year - Workington Diamonds FC

The growth of the Club has been plain to see. Starting with girl’s teams, in 7 years, Workington Diamonds FC have grown from having just 7 girls interested to providing 21 teams with regular playing opportunities with girl’s teams, boys (mixed) teams, disability teams as well as a women’s team linked to the Club. 

Around 400 players were involved in the Club at the end of the 2023 season.

The Club now have their own place to train and play football with home and away changing rooms along with toilet facilities and a cafe area.

Diamonds consider themselves as one big football family, making everyone feel welcome.

Cumberland FA award winner

Match Official Of The Year – Georgia Vyse

Georgia was promoted twice during the 2022-23 season, going Level 7 to Level 6 on the Men's Referee Promotion Pathway and 4w to 3w on the Women’s Referee Promotion Pathway. Her determination saw her develop considerably, from starting her referee course to refereeing an England Women’s U15 game at St George’s Park in March 2023.
Georgia is really keen to learn and has benefited from being in the County CORE and National CORE Groups seeking out opportunities and has signed up for the FA Women’s Referee Emerging Talent Programme. 

Georgia officiated the Cumberland FA Women's Cup Final in 2023.

Unfortunately, Georgia was unable to attend our Awards Evening 

New Volunteer Of The Year - Robyn Jewell (Clear Your Head Kick About)

With initial support from Cumberland FA, Robyn set up a free football session on a Wednesday evening at Cumberland Sports Stadium. Robyn continued the ‘Clear your Head Kickabouts’ giving up Wednesday evenings to enable opportunities for the turn up and play sessions.

Robyn ensured the sessions were welcoming for all and provided a safe environment for people to come along for a kickabout.

On the nomination form, we were told: “It’s an environment where you aren’t judged and don’t feel pressured to talk about your feeling or problems. The sessions are something to look forward to during the week and is an escape from the stresses of work and home life. It also a good excuse to get out the house and exercise.”

Cumberland FA award winner

Young Volunteer Of The Year – Ben Welsh (Langwathby FC)

Ben has been nominated for a number of years in the Ground Team category and was once again nominated this year. As a 21-year-old, Ben has volunteered tirelessly for a number of years with Langwathby FC gaining funding from the Football Foundation to support the upgrade of the pitches and continued maintenance. 

Ben maintains three pitches supporting both adult and junior teams. He also supports the maintenance of stadium pitches at Penrith AFC and Carlisle United FC and we’re told he lives for pitch work!

The number of hours Ben puts in to maintain the pitches is commendable and is appreciated locally and across the county when opposition teams play on them. He is constantly looking to learn and improve. The fact that Ben is still in the young volunteer category is testament to the amount of years he has put into the grassroots game, he seems to have been around for many many years!

One comment on the nomination form said: “Our pitches have improved enormously since his input. We are always complimented on how good they play and well they look.”

Cumberland FA award winner

The Lioness Award – Whitehaven AFC

The Club have completed a 12-13 year project to have a full Girls & Ladies Football Pathway offering an inclusive opportunity to local girls to join the Club from Under 6s all the way to a Senior Ladies Team. At the end of 2023, with 15 teams, the impact is huge for the local area with those at the club proud to be part of such an inclusive and fun environment with opportunities to progress further for players. However, there are many other girls who love the game for the social and health reasons and it’s given them huge amounts of self-esteem, confidence and life skills.

It has been a huge team effort to get the Club to where they are now, from a handful of girls of mixed ages, to now having every year group covered, most with multiple teams. All coaches are qualified and it’s opened up so many doors to so many people as well as giving so many great memories!

The Club also hosted The FA’s Stepping Over the Sidelines workshop supporting female volunteers by bringing parents on board to build their confidence to support the girl’s teams in the future.

Cumberland FA award winner

Positive Football Environment Award - Rob Fowler

Rob supported his team at St Bees from Under 7 to Under 13. During this time wins were in short supply, however they managed to fulfil pretty much every fixture and have healthy numbers at training.  

The nomination told us, this is testament to Rob, his approach and his personality.  He is only ever positive with his instructions and behaviours and created an excellent atmosphere and culture within the team.

Rob has never turned a player away and has ensured that all players who are available have the chance to play. Being part of a team has clearly positively impacted the players well-being and friendships across different schools and social groups have been made that will last forever and this is all due to the fact that they feel comfortable and know that no matter what or how they play or if they make a mistake they will not be shouted at or made to feel worse as this is just not the coaches style. 

The nomination form said: “There won’t be many people who deserve an award more than Rob. In fact the only person who would say they didn't deserve it would be Rob and that tells you everything you need to know about him.”

Cumberland FA award winner

Highly Commended

The quality of the nominations was so great, that there were a number of nominees shortlisted who we feel deserve recognition for their work and dedication in the grassroots game and have been given a Highly Commended Award. 

Once again, we would like to offer our congratulations and say Thank You to the Nominees who were given the Highly Commended Award:

Coach Of The Year – Female Pathway
Mark Ewing (Northbank JFC)
Dave Lace (Whitehaven AFC)
Patrick Malkinson (Bransty Rangers JFC)
Mark Nichols (Whitehaven AFC)
Jamie Reay (Allerdale Girls)
James Telford (Whitehaven AFC)

Coach Of The Year –Male Pathway
Mark Blaylock (Warwick Wanderers JFC)
Dan Percival (Warwick Wanderers JFC)
Steven Stoddart (Maryport Athletic JFC)
Lee Tedford (Northbank JFC)
Anne Taylor (Silloth JFC)
Shaun Todhunter (Carlisle Centurions JFC)

Coach Of The Year – Disability Pathway
Paul Allen (Carlisle Reivers)
Andy Rush (Workington Super Diamonds)

Club Of The Year 
Allerdale Girls
Silloth Juniors FC

Grounds Team Of The Year
Tom Banks (Kirkoswald FC)
Geoff Turrell (Windscale AFC)
Ben Welsh (Langwathby FC)

Match Official Of The Year
Andrew Carruthers
Joe Fell
Alex Kitchen
Seb O’Reilly
Jackson Slack
Lee Tedford

Young Volunteer Of The Year
Erin Duffy (Whitehaven AFC)
Jasmin Irwin (Silloth JFC)

New Volunteer Of The Year
Gay Frankland (Whitehaven AFC)
Scott Whittle (Silloth JFC)

The Lioness Award
Allerdale Wildcats
Gillford Park Wildcats

Positive Football Environment Award
Katie Adams (Gillford Park Wildcats)
Simon McCubbing (Creighton Rangers)
Dave Lace (Whitehaven AFC)
Peter Shepherd (Northbank FC)