Empathy, excellence and realism: SJA awards night

The day after the night before and all our 2016 SJA British Sports Journalism Award winners have had time to let their success sink in. Committee member JON BATHAM reflects on a gala occasion.

Empathy, excellence and earthy cold-nosed realism – all part of an SJA awards evening without an Oscars-style faux pas in sight.

In the shadow of The Houses of Parliament the great and the good of the industry from broadcasting, written and photographic press gathered at a new venue for the Association, the Park Plaza for the prestigious annual soiree.

A few were waylaid by Leicester City’s first game of the post-Ranieri era, but 500 or so others were given plenty of evidence among the stunning photographic entries as to why City should have been more grateful to ‘The Tinkerman.’

FRIENDS FOR LIFE: Andy Woodward (left) and double winner Daniel Taylor (Getty Images)

On a night when individual papers, broadcasters and companies gave partisan, good-natured support for their own nominees, empathy was universal for Andy Woodward, the former footballer-turned-whistle-blower on sex abuse within the national game.

The first man to put his head above the parapet was afforded a standing ovation before and after addressing those assembled, while the journalist with whom he has now formed a lifelong friendship, The Guardian’s Daniel Taylor, won Sports Scoop of the year for his sensitive handling in writing the expose.

In such a competitive industry it was refreshing to witness other examples of empathy as some award winners used their moment of triumph to pay homage to rivals, mentors or others more deserving of attention.

Jon Colman on winning the Regional Journalist award for an incredible sixth time highlighted the plight of former footballer Tony Hopper, recently struck down with Motor Neurone Disease, pleading with the assembled gathering to Google the father of three and rally to his cause.

Matt Lawton, crowned-again Sports News Reporter of the year revealed how as a young journalist he had heeded advice to shadow  chairman of writing judges Peter Jackson and ‘do whatever you can to be like him.’

GOLDEN VOICE: John Murray (left) with idol Mike Ingham

John Murray too declared it an honour to receive the Sports Commentator award from Mike Ingham, someone he’d always seen as a giant of the art.

And Paul Hayward, the latest recipient of the John Bromley Trophy for Sports Writer of the year recorded how inspirational it had been to see The Sun’s Vikki Orvice defy the effects of incurable cancer to put in 18-20 hour shifts at her fifth Olympics in Rio, calling her ‘a benchmark for the rest of us.’

As if Woodward and Orvice hadn’t provided earthy realism enough there was a stark reminder of how tough the industry is at present from the winner of Sports Picture of the Year, Myriam Cawston.

The freelancer produced a stunning ice-dance image even a philistine wordsmith like me who doesn’t know one end of a camera lens from another could only stare open-mouthed in wonderment.

Yet she would reveal she was currently travelling to the World Ice-Dance Championships next month without the backing of a client. The need of one so talented to tout for business is a sobering thought.

LOOKING FOR WORK: Sports Picture winner Myriam Cawston (Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)

While some awards were universally acclaimed, over a post-dinner tipple in the bar, some no doubt argued the overlooking of their ‘journo’ meant the judges must have been in ‘La-La Land’.

For all that, as I ambled back over Westminster Bridge in the ‘Moonlight,’ it was possible to reflect for all its difficulties there was still plenty to be proud of in the world of British sports journalism.

Long may it be so – see you next year.

Writing chairman of judges Peter Jackson’s report

Broadcast co-chairman of judges Philip Barker’s report

Photography co-chairman of judges David Ofield’s report

  • This year, the SJA’s nominated good cause is The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.
  •  If you would like more information about The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity or to make a donation online visit their website by clicking here: 



SJA Sports Writer of the Year 2016 (The John Bromley Trophy)
Paul Hayward – Telegraph

SJA Sports Newspaper of the Year 2016 – Daily Mail

Cricket Journalist
Mike Atherton – The Times

Ladbrokes Football Journalist
Daniel Taylor – The Guardian and Observer

Investigative Sports Reporter
Telegraph Investigations Team – Telegraph

Multi Media Sports Package
Sky Sports – The Open

Regional Journalist
Jon Colman – Cumbrian Newspapers

Rugby Journalist
Stephen Jones – The Sunday Times

Caroline Searle presents Special Sports Edition award to Matt Christy of Boxing News

Special Sports Edition
Boxing News – Tribute to Muhammad Ali

Specialist Correspondent
Sean Ingle – The Guardian and Observer

Sports Columnist
Matt Dickinson – The Times

Sports Feature Writer
Oliver Brown – Telegraph


Sports News Reporter
Matt Lawton – Daily Mail

Sports Scoop
Daniel Taylor – The Guardian and Observer – Andy Woodward Sexual Abuse

Sports Website
The Guardian

Young Sports Writer (Ian Wooldridge Award)
Sam Dean – Telegraph

David Welch Student Sports Writer
Katie Smith – Leeds University


Broadcast Sports Presenter
Winner: Eleanor Oldroyd – BBC Radio 5Live

Broadcast Journalist
Winner: Paul Kelso – Sky News

Radio Sport Factual or Feature
Winner: BBC Radio 5Live – Fight to the Finish: The Story of Marieke Vervoort

Steve Morgan (left) of talkSPORT receives Radio Sport Live Broadcast award from judges’ chairman Philip Barker

Radio Sport Live Broadcast
Winner: talkSPORT – Euro 2016

Sports Commentator
Winner: John Murray – BBC Radio 5Live

Television Sport Factual or Feature
Winner: Sky Sports – Imran

Television Sport Live Broadcast
Winner: BBC Sport – Olympics



Ed Lacey Trophy (Photographer of the Year) – Alex Livesey – Getty Images

Sport Picture
Winner: Myriam Cawston – Freelance

Football Picture
Winner: Richard Pelham – The Sun

SUN-SHINE: Richard Pelham (right) receives his Football Picture award from Paul McCarthy

Sports Portfolio
Winner: Alex Livesey – Getty Images

Specialist Sports Portfolio
Winner: Alan Crowhurst – Getty Images

Rio 2016 Portfolio
Winner: Clive Mason – Getty Images

Rights-free images from today’s SJA British Sports Journalism Awards are available upon request.

For media or general enquiries regarding the SJA contact: Nick Townsend on 07801183766 or
James Green on 0208 916 2493 or