Chris Williamson wins National Respect Award

Respect seeks to address unacceptable behaviour in football on and off the pitch by providing a series of tools for leagues, clubs, coaches, referees,

The Individual Award winner was Chris Williamson for his tireless passion and commitment to Cambourne FC in Cambridgeshire. He has made it his mission to raise standards across all aspects of the club – from participation to coach development with Respect at its core. He also assists in the development of other clubs by signing up to the Club Mentoring programme. 

The Respect People’s Award went to Worthing-based Heartbeat United – a group of individuals who will enter the next edition of the Guinness Book of Records having played the longest continuous football match - lasting 108 hours.  They achieved the feat with two squads of just 18 players and did so in memory of three local grassroots football stalwarts - Matt Chaplain, a local coach who died at just 37 along with Matt Grimstone and Jacob Schlit, two Worthing United players, who were victims in the Shoreham Air Disaster. 

Among clubs in the grassroots category, the joint winners were Seaton Delaval Dynamos and Notts County Ladies’ development team. Seaton were recognised for stressing the importance of team spirit, integrity, fairness and enjoyment above an over-arching desire to win at all costs. They have actively supported players and coaches in embedding Respect in everything that they do.

The Grassroots League Award also had joint winners. The Sheffield & District Junior League was recognised for its commitment to instilling the values of Respect across all its 1000-plus member clubs through its ‘Respectober’ campaign and in Lincolnshire, the Boston and District Saturday Football League was honoured for its work in uniting disparate football communities – by welcoming the East European Football Club into its ranks and helping the club integrate and form bonds with other teams through inter-club mentoring.

Sheffield was also home to the winners from the women’s game as AFC Unity Ladies were recognised for their work in developing community programmes – that impact both in terms of football opportunities and engagement with the local community. 

The National League System award was won by the Hallmark Respect Football League (formerly NW Counties League) for the establishment of an enhanced Respect initiative, which looked at every part of the match day experience and sought to enshrine the values of Respect at its core. 

The league award in women’s football went to The FA Women’s Premier League which was recognised for introducing a programme to target clubs with poor discipline and working with them to raise standards. 

The Club Award went to Rugby Town FC – who went through the entire season without receiving a booking for dissent and earned the least bookings overall – just 35 yellow and 1 red card across 51 games.

From the professional ranks, Bristol Rovers were Fair Play Awards winners for League 2  and in League 1 Crewe Alexandra commendably came up trumps as the Railwaymen did not allow a testing season and the spectre of relegation to impact on the importance of playing the game the right way.

At the very top of the game AFC Bournemouth were Fair Play Award winners in the Premier League and in the Championship Burnley demonstrated an ability to combine successful football with an ethos of Respect to scoop both the title and the Fair Play Award - for the second time in three seasons. Burnley FC were the Football League champions in 2015-16 and also won the Fair Play Award in their division en route to promotion

Each of the winners will collect their awards at a lunch to be staged prior to this season’s FA Community Shield between Emirates FA Cup winners Manchester United and Premier League Champions Leicester City on Sunday 7 August. 

Laurence Jones, The FA’s Head of Clubs and Leagues, said: "The winners represent the crème de la crème among an inspirational group of leagues, clubs and individuals. Each has shown determination to ensure that the game is played in the manner it should be - by instilling and maintaining Respect in the game. "Since its launch in 2007 The FA’s Respect programme has helped achieve a real improvement in behaviour on and off the pitch from the top of the professional game through to the grassroots. It is fitting that those that have excelled over the past season should be recognised for their achievements."

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