New faces, familiar faces, and the year of the dinosaur: 2018 writing awards highlights

The prizes have been collected, the hangovers receded, mortgage taken out for the bar bill and now it’s time to look back at the highlights.

There were 1822 articles to read this year in the writing section of the British Sports Journalism Awards sponsored by Canon and European Professional Club Rugby – it’s hard work being a judge, you know – which made it a hugely difficult job to whittle down entries into shortlists.

While it is always nice to see familiar faces, it is also encouraging when ‘newcomers’ join the SJA’s big-hitting roll of honour.

And we are delighted to call 2018 The Year of the Dinosaur, after Sunday Mirror’s John Richardson proved that age is no barrier to story-getting, while also flying the flag for the tabloids. He broke the news that Steven Gerrard was to be the next manager of Rangers, as well as predicting the appointment of Mark Hughes at Southampton and his submissions earned him SJA Sports News Reporter of the Year award.

Ricco’s speech turned out to be a winner too.

Talking about speeches, big hand for Neil Allen of the Portsmouth News, who scooped the regional award and then made a staunch and impressive case for the role of local newspapers covering their local team.

As he said: “That’s what local papers do. We are here for the good times and we are here for the goddam awful times.”

Paul Hayward of The Telegraph sets the bar high. Very high. He is the SJA British Sports Journalism Awards Sports Writer of the Year for the fifth time – voted for by a panel of professionals including sports editors.

But the younger generation is knocking on the door too with Jonathan Liew of The Independent certainly making himself heard.

The sports columnist category is high-profile and populated by the likes of Hayward, The Mail’s Martin Samuel and Daniel Taylor of the Guardian. Yet is was Liew who was judged the winner and he reacted in amazed delight. 

Liew receives his award from Karthi Gnanasegaram

Owen Slot of The Times is a prodigious winner at the SJAs in a variety of different categories and he now has made rugby writer his own preserve. European Professional Club Rugby’s chairman Simon Halliday presented the EPCR Rugby Journalist of the Year award  too him for a second successive year.

There was another new name in the specialist correspondent category, The Mail’s Jonathan McEvoy producing an impressive F1 submission to win the top prize.  Talking of The Mail, they were also voted sports website of the year and newspaper of the year but, despite  having four of six stories in the scoop category, James Olley of the Evening Standard’s ‘Wembley for sale’ entry won on the night.

From left: Presenter Seema Jaswal and Mail Online team Charlie Skillen, Pete South and sports editor Mike Anstead
Mail head of sport Marc Padgett receives paper of the year award from Patrick Collins

Alastair Cook’s final Test turned out to be extra memorable for The Telegraph’s Scyld Berry,  who ended Michael Atherton’s amazing run for The Times in the cricket writer category thanks to his reporting of that finale. Berry generously acknowledged the contribution of colleague Nick Hoult as he collected his award.

Guardian and Observer columnist Daniel Taylor received praise for his exclusives as he once again won the SJA Football Journalist of The Year for the fourth successive time.

Boxing News continues to punch above its weight, sports broadcaster Jessica Creighton (below) presenting the Special Sports Edition award to editor Matt Christie.

The biggest cheer of the night was reserved for the final recipient. Legendary broadcaster and commentator Barry Davies had the whole room at the Westminster Bridge Park Plaza on their feet when he was given the Doug Gardner award for services to journalism and to the SJA. Former chairman David Walker presented the award.

There were more than 600 guests at the gala occasion, hosted by Jim Rosenthal, including 10 next-generation writers, broadcasters and photographers as guests of the National Lottery. Canon hosted young photographers who made the shortlist.

We also had three more winners, the Young Writer, Young Photographer, and Young Broadcaster categories were decided in advance of the evening and invited to the Westminster Bridge Park Plaza.

From left: Daniel Matthews (Mail), Jasper Taylor (Sky) and Naomi Baker (Getty) with president Patrick Collins.



Doug Gardner Award for Services to Sports Journalism and the SJA
Winner: Barry Davies 

SJA Sports Writer of the Year 2018 (The John Bromley Trophy)
Winner: Paul Hayward – The Telegraph

SJA Sports Photographer of the Year 2018 (The Ed Lacey Trophy) sponsored by Canon
Winner: Mark Thompson – Getty Images 

SJA Sports Newspaper of the Year 2018
Winner: Daily Mail
Highly commended: The Telegraph
Highly commended: The Sunday Times

Broadcast Sports Presenter
Winner: Ed Chamberlin & Francesca Cumani – ITV Sport
Highly commended: Adrian Durham – talkSPORT
Highly commended: Hazel Irvine – BBC Sport


Cricket Journalist
Winner: Scyld Berry – The Telegraph
Highly commended: Paul Newman – Daily Mail
Highly commended: Michael Atherton – The Times

Football Journalist
Winner: Daniel Taylor – The Guardian
Highly commended: Jonathan Northcroft – The Sunday Times
Highly commended: Sam Wallace – The Telegraph 

Regional Journalist
Winner: Neil Allen – Portsmouth News
Highly commended: James Olley – The Evening Standard
Highly commended: Jon Colman – Cumbrian Newspapers

Rugby Journalist sponsored by European Professional Club Rugby
Winner: Owen Slot – The Times
Highly commended: Mick Cleary – The Telegraph
Highly commended: Stephen Jones – The Sunday Times

Special Sports Edition
Winner: 100 Greatest Heavyweight Boxers – Boxing News
Highly commended: Lev Yashin: From bullet maker to Balon d’Or Winner – BBC Sport
Highly commended: World Cup 2018 – The Telegraph

Specialist Correspondent
Winner: Jonathan McEvoy – Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday
Highly commended: Ewan Murray – The Guardian
Highly commended: Matt Majendie – The Evening Standard

Sports Columnist
Winner: Jonathan Liew – The Independent
Highly commended: Daniel Taylor – The Guardian
Highly commended: Marina Hyde – The Guardian

Sports Feature Writer
Winner: Donald McRae – The Guardian and Observer
Highly commended: Alex Mead – The Rugby Journal
Highly commended: Neil Squires – Daily Express

Sports News Reporter
Winner: John Richardson – Sunday Mirror
Highly commended: David Conn – The Guardian
Highly commended: Neil Ashton – The Sun

Sports Scoop
Winner: James Olley – The Evening Standard – Wembley for Sale
Highly commended: Every Premier League club asked to cough up £250,000 in golden handshake for Richard Scudamore – Matt Lawton – Daily Mail
Highly commended: Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona – Lee Clayton – Daily Mail

Sports Website
Winner: MailOnline
Highly commended: The Independent
Highly commended: The Times

Young Sports Journalist of the Year (Ian Wooldridge award)
Daniel Matthews (Daily Mail and Mail Online)
Highly commended: Luke Brown (Independent


Broadcast Journalist
Winner: Rob Dorsett – Sky Sports News
Highly commended: Des Kelly – BT Sport
Highly commended: Richard Conway – BBC Sport

Broadcast Production Team
Winner: Bobby Robson: More than a Manager – Noah Media Group
Highly commended: World Cup 2018 – BBC Sport
Highly commended: Leicester City Helicopter Crash – Sky Sports News

Radio Sport Factual or Feature
Winner: Football Forum – BBC Radio Leicester
Highly commended: Pep Music – BBC Radio 5Live
Highly commended: Super G: How Geraint win the Yellow Jersey – BBC Sport Wales

Radio Sport Live Broadcast
Winner: Sri Lanka Cricket Tour – talkSPORT
Highly commended: World Cup 2018 – talkSPORT
Highly commended: World Cup 2018 – BBC Radio 5Live

Sports Commentator
Winner: John Murray – BBC Radio 5Live
Highly commended: Guy Mowbray – BBC Sport
Highly commended: Mike Costello – BBC Radio 5Live 

Sports Pundit
Winner: Osi Umenyiora – Whisper Films
Highly commended: Alex Scott – BBC Sport
Highly commended: Nasser Hussain – Sky Sports

Television Sport Factual or Feature
Winner: Bobby Robson: More than a Manager – Noah Media Group
Highly commended: McAteer: Through the Storm – Liverpool Football Club
Highly commended: Shoulder to Shoulder – TBI Media and 3 Rock Productions for BT Sport

Television Sport Live Broadcast
Winner: Cricket – Sky Sports
Highly commended: Royal Ascot Gold Cup Day – ITV Sport
Highly commended: Winter Paralympic Games for Channel 4 – Whisper Films

Young Sports Broadcaster of the Year
Jasper Taylor (Sky Sports News)
Highly commended: Michael McCann (Freelance)


Away from the Action
Winner: Eddie Keogh – Freelance
Highly commended: Edward Whitaker – Racing Post
Highly commended: Marc Aspland – The Times

Sport Picture
Winner: Mark Thompson – Getty Images
Highly commended: Richard Pelham – The Sun
Highly commended: Anna Gowthorpe – Freelance 

Canon Sports Portfolio
Winner: Julian Finney – Getty Images
Highly commended: Alex Livesey – Getty Images
Highly commended: Clive Mason – Getty Images

Specialist Sports Portfolio
Winner: Mark Thompson – Getty Images
Highly commended: Alex Whitehead – SWpix
Highly commended: Edward Whitaker – Racing Post

Football Portfolio
Winner: Julian Finney – Getty Images
Highly commended: Eddie Keogh – Freelance
Highly commended: Michael Regan – Getty Images

Young Sports Photographer of the Year
Naomi Baker (Getty Images)
Highly commended: Jack Thomas (Getty Images)