2018 FA Women’s Football Awards: Special Award winners

Tony Leighton and Sue Lopez MBE were both awarded the prestigious ‘Special Award’ at The FA Women’s Football Awards in London on Friday night, due to their dedication to growing the game.

Tony Leighton at the FA Women’s Football awards, The Brewery, London, UK – 01 Jun 2018
(Kate Green for FA)

After more than two decades covering the women’s domestic and international game (and contributing countless articles and interview features for She Kicks magazine and website), Tony retired in December 2017. Tony started his career in local newspapers and went on to become an authority on women’s football, working for numerous national newspapers. Throughout his time covering the national team Tony travelled to 28 different countries, amassing more than 180 games. He has been highly regarded by players and coaches at the top level of the women’s game for more than 20 years and will be remembered for having had a major impact on raising the profile of the game through his work. Listen to the podcast SK editor Jen O’Neill recorded with Tony in December, about his time in the women’s game:

Sue Lopez (Kate Green for FA)

Sue Lopez’s contribution to women’s football has been incredible, both as a player, coach and manager in a career spanning five decades. Sue was the first English woman to play semi-professional football as an overseas player in Italy in 1971 before she returned home to help establish the first ever officially sanctioned England women’s team. Sue played a major role in organising the first England women’s international to be played on a Football League ground and over a period of seven years she won 22 caps for her country. She also wrote one of the most important books about the women’s game and its development in the UK and across the world (Women on the Ball (1996), a MUST for any students, looking to write projects or dissertations on the sport). Sue has been a friend and supporter of the our titles since the outset in 1996, a columnist, advisor and friend.

We were delighted that both were recognised for their tremendous commitment and impact on the women’s game and congratulate them on their deserved awards.

On receiving the award (presented by Jordan Nobbs, following a video tribute including words from Casey Stoney, Jacqui Oatley & SK Editor Jen O’Neill) Tony Leighton, who amazingly hadn’t twigged, said: “It was a massive surprise but a great honour to receive this award tonight, probably the greatest honour I’ve had in my 40 year career in football.”

On collecting the award from her long time friend and early supporter of the women’s game Lawrie McMenemy (who was a manager of many teams in the emn’s game, including time as Graham Taylor’s assistant with England), Sue Lopez said: “I’m still in shock at the minute but I’m very proud and pleased, I’ve worked hard to push the women’s game forward.”

(Featured image: BBC’s Shelley Alexander with Sue Lopez & Lawrie McMenemy, photo by Catherine Etoe)