SARAH JUGGINS reports on the stellar night at the BT Sport-sponsored SJA British Sports Journalism Awards
“A broadcaster with a wonderful range and a champion of lesser known sports.”
The judges were generous in their praise of the winner of the Broadcast Presenter of the Year, Eleanor Oldroyd, as she scooped one of the major awards at the annual Sports Journalism Awards held at the Grand Connaught Rooms in London on Monday night. The audience was equally generous, as Oldroyd attracted one of several standing ovations on the night as she took to the stage.
The broadcast categories for 2014 were, for the first time, subject to the decision of a panel of expert judges. In previous years, the SJA’s broadcast awards had been determined by a vote of its members. The Broadcast Presenter of the Year replaced, to a degree, the previous Broadcaster of the Year prize, and saw Oldroyd complete a hat-trick of sorts: she is the third woman in three years to win this SJA prize, following Clare Balding in 2012 and Alison Mitchell, who was short-listed this time round, in 2013.
Oldroyd, a regular presenter news as well as sport on BBC Radio 5Live, was one of a number of household names honoured during a glittering celebration of all forms of sport journalism – print, online, broadcast and photography.
The prestigious Doug Gardner Award was won by another journalist from the 5Live stable, the hugely popular and highly respected Mike Ingham. On accepting the award, Ingham – who retired as a full-time football commentator and correspondent after the World Cup – said: “What we do is a hobby as much as a job.”
The team behind the Daily Mail, the Mail Online and the Mail on Sunday also had cause for great celebration, as they collected Sports Newspaper of the Year, Martin Samuel won Sports Columnist and Sports Writer of the Year for his “strong, fresh views… that are always backed up with factual information”, Graham Chadwick’s picture from the Ryder Cup won Sports News Picture and Matt Lawton was the recipient of the News Reporter of the Year.
There was a tinge of sadness to the evening as Sir Michael Parkinson, the outgoing SJA President, was unable to attend the event due to his wife, Lady Mary, suffering an illness while they were in Australia. But Parkinson raised a laugh as he addressed the audience via video-link, admitting that the England cricket team’s performance at the World Cup had caused him equal angst and upset to his wife’s illness. The outgoing President wished President-elect Patrick Collins well in the role. “I am delighted that an old friend and a great journalist is taking over at the helm of this wonderful Association,” he said.
The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow provided rich pickings for the BBC. Radio 5Live won the Radio Sport Live Broadcast, while BBC Sport won the Television Sport Live Broadcast for its coverage of the Glasgow spectacle. On accepting the award for Radio 5Live, Eleanor Oldroyd said: “We had a wonderful team working at the Games, but it is also thanks to the people of Glasgow. We were made to feel so welcome and absolutely loved being there.”
The SJA introduced a number of awards to this year’s celebration. Among them was the Football Writer of the Year, with the Telegraph’s Henry Winter emerging as the winner from a stellar cast of writers, and the Rugby Writer of the Year, which was won by Stephen Jones of the Sunday Times.
Television Sports Documentary was another new category this year, and BT Sport were the inaugural recipients with the documentary, The Crazy Gang, which charted the life and times of the Wimbledon football team which won the 1988 FA Cup. Presenting the award, Mike Ingham said: “The SJA should be praised for introducing this new award, the entries were all wonderful and the winner is a riveting documentary.”
The evening’s proceedings were played out to a backdrop of wonderful sporting film footage and photography and the awards for visual imagery highlighted the quality of work in this field. The big winner of the night was Adrian Dennis, who was crowned Sports Photographer of the Year for a second time in three years.
The entire evening was a celebration of, in the words of David Welch’s daughter, Jessica, “a flair, a curiosity, a fearlessness and a wide knowledge about a range of sports”.
Two awards that deserve special mention are the Sports Broadcast Journalist of the Year, which was won by 5Live’s Mike Costello and Sports Documentary of the Year, won by Kick Off Mental Health, produced by TalkSport’s Mark Saggers and featuring the former footballer Stan Collymore.
On presenting the award to Costello, Sir Nicholas Lloyd spoke of: “Fearless reporting, and a use of style that is an object lesson in producing the right comment at exactly the right moment.” In turn, Costello thanked his cast: Jo Pavey, Carl Froch and Geroge Groves for the “wonderful material they presented me with”.
Martin Kelner, the writer and broadcaster, returned to duties after a year out during cancer treatment, as was his usual corruscating self, posing the question of our Specialist Sport Website winner: “Sporting Intelligence? Isn’t that an oxymoron?” The research for a cure for cancer was the nominated charity of Sir Michael Parkinson at the event, with nearly £2,000 being raised for Men United, the Prostate Cancer campaign.
Among the other award winners were: the Daily Mirror’s Cheltenham Guide for Best Special Package; the Regional Sports Writer Award, which attracted a record number of entries and was won by Jon Colman of CN Group. Sports Feature Writer of the Year was Paul Hayward of The Telegraph and James Gheerbrant, writing for BBC Sport and The Times, received the Ian Wooldridge Young Sports Writer of the Year.
As one veteran of 22 Olympic Games – Summer and Winter – as well as 41 Wimbledon tennis tournaments, put it: “There are some damned fine journalists in this room tonight.”
- For the full list of winners and highly commended entries, click here
- VIDEO: Mike Ingham’s career’s work recognised by the SJA
- Samuel’s sixth crown caps off #SJA2014 Sports Journalism Awards
- Glittering #SJA2014 Awards night – captured in picures
- Atherton leads the way as he catches Cricket award
- Sporting night for Colman as he collects title No5
- The SJA is the largest member organisation of sports media professionals in the world. You can become a member: Click here for more details
UPCOMING SJA EVENTS
Wed, Apr 1: BT Sport/SJA lunch with Olympic champion rower Andrew Triggs Hodge. Booking details here
Mon Apr 13: SJA Spring Golf Day, Wimbledon Park GC. Booking details here
Mon Sep 14: SJA Autumn Golf Day, Muswell Hill Golf Club