Parker wins Writers' Association prize

LONDON - West Ham United midfielder Scott Parker was named England's Footballer of the Year on Friday after one of the closest votes for years.

Parker topped the Football Writers' Association poll of journalists to win the oldest award of its type, which dates back to 1948 when Stanley Matthews was the first winner.

He finished ahead of Gareth Bale of Tottenham Hotspur, who was named the Professional Football Association's Player of the Year.

Parker, who has been inspirational in West Ham's fight against relegation, is the first West Ham player to win the award since Bobby Moore in 1964.

FWA chairman Steve Bates will present the award at a gala dinner in London on May 12.

"He has been the most consistent player in the Hammers team fighting against relegation from the Premier League this season and has forced his way back into the England team," Bates told Reuters.

"He has been an inspiration for the Hammers and that tipped the vote his way in one of the closest polls for many years."