Refresh deliver sold-out Football Black List show at Battersea Arts Centre

THE Football Black List made a triumphant return with a star-studded celebration evening at the historic Battersea Art Centre where the first Black Lioness, Kerry Davis, was honoured with a Keith Alexander Award. 

The event, proudly supported by the Premier League, is an initiative shining a light on the most influential Black people in British football, founded by sports journalists Leon Mann and Rodney Hinds.

Returning to Battersea Arts Centre in London for the second time after a successful 2022, the night was hosted by ESPN presenter Alexis Nunes and TNT Sports presenter JayDee Dyer, with a special performance from Grime Violinist to open up the show. 

The evening also included a performance from the talented House Gospel Choir. 

Premier League star Trent Alexander-Arnold, WSL heroes Nikita Parris and Jess Carter and Burnley manager Vincent Kompany were among the names on the list. 

The first creative director appointed by a Premier League Club Kenny Annan-Jonathan, the first Black presenter of a live Premier League game Ade Oladipo and the second-ever Black referee in Premier League history Sam Allison also make the list. 

The first Black Lioness, who made her England debut in 1982, Kerry Davis was presented with a Keith Alexander Award for her achievements as a pioneer in women’s football. Meanwhile Akil Howson, the first Black person to be a permanent official in the top-flight for 15 years, along with referee Sam Allison were honoured with a Cyrille Regis award. 

The Football Black List also featured an LGBTQ+ award and this year it was awarded to Huddersfield Town midfielder Caz Fields for their work in educating others on gender identity. Caz’s TikTok account, where they post powerful content, has over 70,000 followers. 

Attendees on the night included former Premier League title winning captain Wes Morgan, Brentford star and active campaigner Ben Mee, professional striker turned manager Troy Deeney and Olympic Champion Denise Lewis, plus a host of other figures from across the sport and entertainment sectors. 

The next generation of Black excellence was highlighted through the Ugo Ehiogu Ones to Watch awards. This year, Khadidia Timera, the only Black judge of FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber and William Bitibiri, founder of Manchester United account Down The Wings with over 130,000 followers were among the winners of this category. 

2023 marked 15 years of the Football Black List, which was first published in 2008, and aims to amplify the incredible work of those across all areas of the beautiful game while also helping to inspire the next generation to follow in their footsteps.

Co-founder of the Football Black List, Leon Mann MBE, said: “The Football Black List just keeps growing and growing, we see the numbers in the room just really swelling and it’s reflecting the huge interest and support there is for this movement. I’m really pleased with the support that the community gives this event. Without their support we have an empty room, with their support we can really move forward and do things.

“The collaboration with the Premier League is absolutely huge. It enables us to be able to get the message around Black excellence out to a much wider audience than if we were to do it without a partner like them. We’re really pleased with the collaboration and we’re working together in terms of how we help to diversify football, and this is one part of that. 

“The fact that we had the first Black Lioness on stage is really special, and something which we’ve tried to do for a number of years, so I’m so pleased that we had Kerry on that stage and she got a rousing round of applause because she has opened the doors for the incredible Black women that have followed her, and the many that will follow in the future, not just on the pitch but off the pitch as well. 

“We need to see more Black women involved in football in all areas from the media to the dugout, right across the game and I hope that by having Kerry on that stage we’re sending that message to the industry.” 

Fellow co-founder, Rodney Hinds, added: “It was another night which all concerned should take credit for. To see the Black football fraternity and allies in the room was heartening.

“The event grows every year which is great to see and indicates that the Football Black List is playing a positive role and is here to stay! Moving forward, collaboration has to be at the heart of progress.”

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