Outstanding Awford given FA youth honour

Andy Awford. Picture: Barry Zee
Andy Awford. Picture: Barry Zee
Enda Stevens won The News/Sports Mail Pompey Player of the Year award last season

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Andy Awford has been recognised for his superb Academy work after receiving a Football Association award.

The Blues’ youth manager was presented with Outstanding Contribution in the Football League (16-21 year olds) during a gala dinner at St George’s Park last Friday night.

Presented by the national football centre’s chairman, David Sheepshanks, the FA Licensed Coaches’ Club Awards honoured excellence in the game.

Awford had the nod ahead of fellow nominees Neil Woods from Walsall and Wolves’ Mick Halsall in front of a 300-strong audience, which also contained Alan Knight.

FA coach educators had been impressed with the Pompey Hall of Famer’s tireless work in youth football during troubled times off the field of play.

The past year has also seen Jed Wallace and Adam Webster make the England under-19 squad, while last week Jack Whatmough received a call-up to an England under-18 training camp.

And the Academy manager was quick to praise the influence of his Fratton colleagues who have also contributed.

Awford said: ‘It was a nice surprise and I was really pleased to accept it, not just for me but it is good recognition for club.

‘It shows we are getting some respect for what we have been through as a football club in recent times and I would not have been able to receive the award without the support of everyone there.

‘I mean that sincerely, the people in the Academy have done a fantastic time through the last two years.

‘On a personal level, my most treasured award is my Pompey Hall of Fame and this one is alongside that now.

‘I have nothing around my house, I don’t show off trophies, that is not me – but the pair of them are sat on top of the television in my lounge.

‘I’ve invested a bit of time on courses, the lads take the micky and call me ‘Mr Course’ and to be fair the club have invested in me as well and allowed me to go on these courses, a couple quite expensive.

‘Over the last two years I have taken the Elite coaching course, all the youth modules, the FA Youth Award and am now doing the Advanced FA Youth Award.

‘I suppose it is recognition for me having worked hard and been through the mill, as well as stepping into the first-team breach during two different periods and kept the Academy going to a decent level.

‘But I could not have done it without the help of the staff at the club who have pulled together in adversity.’

It was only fitting for Awford to drive back to the south coast straight after the awards with an Academy game in the morning.

And the Blues went on to beat Dagenham & Redbridge 3-1 at Furze Lane.