Samuel’s sixth crown caps off #SJA2014 awards

Repeat winners: Martin Samuel, with the John Bromley Trophy, and Adrian Dennis, with the Ed Lacey Trophy, took the top prizes on Monday night
Repeat winners: Martin Samuel, with the John Bromley Trophy, and Adrian Dennis, with the Ed Lacey Trophy, took the top prizes on Monday night

With Martin Samuel named as Sports Writer of the Year for a record-equalling sixth time, the Daily Mail’s sports desk crowned an outstanding evening at tonight’s SJA British Sports Journalism Awards, sponsored by BT Sport.

The Mail took a total of four top prizes, including the Sports Newspaper of the Year for a second time and Sports News Picture for the work of their staff photographer, Graham Chadwick.

The Sports Photographer of the Year was named as Adrian Dennis, the AFP snapper taking the cherished Ed Lacey trophy for a second time in three years, after he had earlier been named as the winner of the Sports Portfolio Award.

And in a year when the SJA expanded its awards to include a fuller range of sports broadcasting prizes, there was widespread acclaim in the dining room at the Grand Connaught Rooms in London when Mike Ingham, the recently retired BBC Radio football correspondent, was named as the recipient of the Doug Gardner Award for services to sports journalism.

One of Ingham’s former BBC colleagues, Eleanor Oldroyd, scooped the award for Broadcast Sports Presenter of the Year, in a category where the highly commended entries were submitted by Gary Lineker and Hazel Irvine. The judges said Lineker and Irvine were “beaten to this award by an outstanding broadcaster with a wonderful range, both in the studio and on Outside Broadcasts…” whose “use of language and description is excellent and that they are a good and sympathetic interviewer who champions many of the lesser and sports but is equally adept at handling the big occasion”.

Samuel has dominated the John Bromley Trophy award for the nation’s leading sports writer over the past decade, whether working for the News of the World, The Times or now at the Mail. The winner in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2013, tonight’s win puts him on level terms with Hugh McIlvanney and one ahead of Ian Wooldridge; between them, McIlvanney and Wooldridge shared the first Sports Writer of the Year Award in i976.

Samuel capped his success off tonight by also being acclaimed as Sports Columnist of the Year, the judges choosing his work ahead of a formidable entry, saying that, “His views are strong and fresh, frequently contrary to that held by the general public, but always backed up by good factual information.”

The Young Sports Writer of the Year Award is named in honour of Samuel’s predecessor as Mail columnist, Ian Wooldridge, and in winning this prize tonight, James Gheerbrant – with a portfolio drawn from work at BBC Sport and The Times – showed himself definitely one to be watched: it is just a couple of years since Gheerbrant, then an undergraduate, was winning the Student Sports Writer prize at these awards.

India v Sri Lanka - ICC World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014 Final
The specialist cricket photography of Gareth Copley has been outstanding for years, and this year won him the Phil Sheldon Trophy. This shot from his portfolio shows Mahendra Singh Dhoni of India catching Lahiru Thirimanne of Sri Lanka in last year’s World Twenty20 finalin Dhaka, Bangladesh

The Sports News Reporter of the Year category saw three of Samuel’s colleagues short-listed, with Matt Lawton emerging triumphant ahead of the highly commended Martyn Ziegler of the Press Association and the Telegraph’s Nick Hoult. It was Lawton’s work on the emails and text messages sent by Malky Mackay when he was manager at Cardiff City which swung the prize Lawton’s way, the judges saying that it “set the football agenda for weeks and still has major ramifications for the sport, as the reporter demonstrated good, old-fashioned news-gathering by obtaining some dynamite and damning documents”.

The Laureus Sports Website of the Year went to The Guardian for “digital innovation, great journalism, industry-leading design and its approach to social media”.

Getty Images photographer Gareth Copley added to the many plaudits for his work in cricket when he won the 2014 Phil Sheldon Trophy for Specialist Sports Portfolio, ahead of the Racing Post’s Ed Whitaker and freelancer Steve Etherington.

The new, and fiercely contested, Football Writer of the Year award was won by the Daily Telegraph’s Henry Winter, with Daniel Taylor (The Guardian) and Rory Smith (The Times) highly commended.

In a year of a football World Cup and a thrilling F1 season, the award for Television Sport Live Broadcast went to BBC Sport for their coverage of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

Dylan Martinez of Reuters was highly commended in the Sports News Picture category for this image from the football World Cup
Dylan Martinez of Reuters was highly commended in the Sports News Picture category for this image from the football World Cup

The Ladbrokes Specialist Correspondent recognises excellence in coverage of a sport, other than football, rugby or circket, and this category gave the judges more than 200 articles to review each. After their careful deliberations, the winner was a freelance golf writer, Paul Mahoney, ahead of Alan Lee, the racing correspondent of The Times, and another golf specialist, James Corrigan of the Telegraph.

Scoop of the Year: the Sunday Times's Fifa files
Scoop of the Year: the Sunday Times’s Fifa files

The judges said that “the winner’s reports are full of insight and colour, making them such an entertaining, appealing read, even to the non-golfer. His turn of phrase gives him the edge in a highly-competitive field”.

The Scoop of the Year pitched two of the winners from earlier in the evening against one another, Matt Lawton against the Sunday Times’s Insight team of Jonathan Calvert and Heidi Blake, with the judges’ decision going to the latters’ Fifa Files for a “comprehensive dossier on a corruption scandal that has more legs than a centipede”, which they described as “stunning journalism – a huge story brilliantly presented and made possible by exhaustive research and relentless investigation”.


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

Tue Apr 21: Young sports journalists social event, Covent Garden

Wed May 13: SJA York Races Day, sponsored by Ladbrokes, at the Dante Festival. Click here to book your places

Tue May 26: Young sports journalists social event, Covent Garden

Tue July 14: Young sports journalists social event, Covent Garden

Mon Sep 14: SJA Autumn Golf Day, Muswell Hill Golf Club