British Sports Journalism Awards: shortlists

The stage is set: Jim Rosenthal will again be the SJA's master of ceremonies, this time at the Grand Connaught Rooms on March 12, for the British Sports Journalism Awards

And they’re off!

Monday March 12 is the eve of the National Hunt festival at Cheltenham, but the race to be named as Britain’s top sports writers at the SJA British Sports Journalism Awards being staged that night is now well under way, with the “runners and riders” completed with the naming today of the shortlisted candidates in the writing and cartoonists’ categories.

The winners will be named at a gala dinner at the Grand Connaught Rooms in central London next month, alongside the outstanding entries in the photography and broadcasting categories (the shortlists for which have already been announced).

“I don’t recall a time when so many of our judges have commented on the high quality of the entries,” said Jon Ryan, the chairman of the writing judges, who pulled together around 40 volunteers from the upper echelons of the media and sport to help scrutinise this year’s entries.

“I am also delighted that the number of entries kept up during what has not been the easiest time for newspapers.

“If you want to show anyone why newspapers are important, why they matter and why journalists should be respected for their writing, news reporting and investigative skills then you need to look no further than the SJA awards. I would like to thank our team of judges for their thoroughness and diligence in reaching their decisions,” Ryan said.

And just as at Cheltenham, where the big race runners keep coming back year after year, the 2011 sports writing shortlists include several thoroughbred past winners, such as the Daily Mail’s Martin Samuel, the four-time Sports Writer of the Year, shortlisted in a couple of categories, as is Patrick Collins, from the Mail’s Sunday stablemate, whose five wins of the John Bromley Trophy as Sports Writer of the Year stretch back to 1989.

Other multiple nominees include a pair of former sporting champions from The Times, Matthew Syed and Michael Atherton, the 2009 Sports Writer of the Year, who also has a chance of winning an award in the broadcast categories.

The Mail's Neil Ashton, left, received last year's Sports News Writer trophy from doyen John Jackson

There are writing champions stoutly defending their titles in several categories, too, including Nick Harris for the Internet Sports Writer award, Neil Ashton in the very competitive Sports News Writer category, and Ed Hawkins, in the SJA/BetVictor Sports Betting Writer Awards.

As well as long-established star names from the back pages, these awards will also be unearthing some bright new talent.

The Young Sports Writer of the Year is held in the memory of one of our first winners, Ian Wooldridge, while the David Welch Student Sports Writer of the Year Award, is being presented for the first time this year to commemorate the former SJA stalwart and Daily Telegraph sports editor.

The organisers for the latter award received hundreds of entries, and they will be inviting the three top candidates for the first Student Sportswriter award along on March 12 as guests of the SJA.

This will be the 35th time that the SJA has presented the ultimate individual prize, the Sports Writer of the Year, which was first awarded in 1976. The winner for 2011 will determined by a poll of national sports editors and other senior figures and will form part of the climax of the evening’s events.

Equally sought-after is the SJA’s newest prize, the Sports Newspaper of the Year, first awarded for 2010 and this year generously sponsored by Laureus. This is determined by a vote of leading journalism figures from across the country, and will also be presented on the night by the SJA’s President, Sir Michael Parkinson.


Writers’ and Cartoonists’ shortlists

Young Sports Writer – The Ian Wooldridge Trophy

  • Julian Bennetts (Hayters)
  • Alex Kay (Daily Mail)
  • Jonathan Liew (Telegraph)
  • Jack Pitt-Brooke (Independent)
  • Laura Williamson (Daily Mail)

Sports News Reporter

  • Neil Ashton (Daily Mail)
  • Robert Beasley (The Sun)
  • David Conn (The Guardian)
  • Nick Harris (Mail on Sunday)
  • Paul Kelso (Telegraph)
  • Martyn Ziegler (Press Association)

Sports Scoop

  • Manchester City CEO’s emails – Shaun Custis (The Sun)
  • Football match fixing – Paul Kelso (Telegraph)
  • English rugby’s World Cup reports – Mark Souster (The Times)
  • Rugby league betting scandal – Geoff Sweet (The Sun)
  • First interview with Stan Kroenke – Jeremy Wilson (Telegraph)
  • Bribes paid to FIFA officials – Martyn Ziegler (Press Association)

Sports Feature Writer

  • Simon Briggs (Telegraph)
  • Patrick Collins (Mail on Sunday)
  • Donald McRae (The Guardian)
  • Owen Slot (The Times)
  • Matthew Syed (The Times)

Specialist Correspondent

  • Paul Ackford (The Sunday Telegraph)
  • Mike Atherton (The Times)
  • Matthew Lawton (Daily Mail)
  • Mark Souster (The Times)
  • Daniel Taylor (The Guardian)
  • Henry Winter (Telegraph)

Sports Interviewer

  • Matt Lawton (Daily Mail)
  • Donald McRae (The Guardian)
  • Martin Samuel (Daily Mail)
  • Owen Slot (The Times)
  • Matthew Syed (The Times)
  • Brian Viner (freelance)

Sports Columnist

  • Mike Atherton (The Times)
  • Simon Barnes (The Times)
  • Patrick Collins (Mail on Sunday)
  • Oliver Holt (Daily Mirror)
  • James Lawton (The Independent)
  • Martin Samuel (Daily Mail)

Regional Sports Writer

  • Jon Colman (Cumbrian Newspapers)
  • Paul Fergusson (Sunday Life, Belfast)
  • Amanda Little (Cumbrian Newspapers)
  • Mark Taylor (Cambridge News)
  • Chris Wathan (Media Wales)
  • Richard Wilson (freelance)

SJA/BetVictor Sports Betting Writer

  • Chris Cook (The Guardian)
  • Ed Hawkins (The Times)
  • Simon Milham (freelance)
  • Steve Palmer (Racing Post)
  • Kevin Pullein (Racing Post)
  • Greg Wood (The Guardian)

Sports Cartoonist

  • Kerber and Black (Sunday Mirror)
  • Andy Davey (freelance)
  • Nick Newman (freelance)
  • Steve O’Brien (Mail on Sunday)

Internet Sports Writer

  • Matthew Christie (Boxing News)
  • Ben Dirs (BBC Sport)
  • Tom Fordyce (BBC Sport)
  • Nick Harris (
  • Patrick Kidd (The Times)

Tickets for the SJA British Sports Journalism Awards dinner in central London on Monday, March 12 can be ordered by clicking here.

Ticket booking enquiries to Start2Finish Events, 020 8916 2492

Follow news and developments in the awards on this website, or on Twitter, through the SJA feed @SportSJA, and remember to use the hashtag #SJA2011


Tue Mar 6: SJA Ladbrokes Lunch with former England rugby star Simon Halliday. Click here for booking details.

Mon Mar 12: SJA British Sports Journalism Awards in London. A gala dinner celebrating our colleagues work. For ticket details, click here.

Mon Apr 16: SJA Spring Golf Day, Surbiton GC. Watch the SJA website for booking details.

Thu Apr 19: SJA Annual General Meeting. Details to be announced on the website and in members’ emails.

Thu May 10: SJA Ladbrokes Lunch with former England cricket captain Alec Stewart. Booking details to be announced.