Graham Wilson, who has just left the Daily Express sports desk after having written on the sport for the paper since the 1986 World Cup at Willesden, is the new chairman of the Hockey Writers’ Club. He takes over from Peter Luck, who had held the post since 2009.
Wilson presided at the HWC’s annual lunch and awards, held at the Royal Thames Yacht Club in Knightsbridge last week. Like many of the club’s members, Wilson has concern for the sport’s coverage.
“Our main problem for members, I believe, stems from the lack of coverage in the printed word of our beloved sport in England’s national press and around the world,” Wilson said.
“My own newspaper, the Daily Express, where I worked for 30 years, has just finished another painful reduction in overall staff of 200. I am one of those. Coverage of the minor sports everywhere has been affected. Though competition for newspaper readership has never been greater, I believe the fall in newspaper circulation can be put down to reduced coverage, the reduced employment of news and sports journalists and the increasing demands and costs on newspapers for covering news issues and worldwide sport. In short, we have been struggling to make a living.
“But, as the irrepressible England chief executive Sally Munday of English hockey said at our awards lunch, I believe we are coming to a tipping point in our sport. Increased television coverage, new technology, online investment, Twitter and everything else that can be dreamed up, has given us a way of communicating with hockey fans everywhere in an instant. This has opened up a whole new field of play and, like the FIH’s innovation with new rules to keep the game fast and exciting, we have to adapt.
“This takes up a huge amount of time and involvement and in a bid to do that, we have increased the numbers on the HWC executive committee. The Daily Telegraph’s Rod Gilmour has joined us, which has given us a huge boost. We have our stalwart Peter Savage back on board plus Ken Wilson, formerly of the BBC. There is a lot of work to be done.”
At the awards lunch, Holcombe’s Iain Lewers and Canterbury’s Susannah Townsend were named players of the year, following the annual poll conducted among British members of the Hockey Writers’ Club.
Lewers, 31, was an outstanding performer at the heart of England’s defence during 2014, while Townsend, 25, took a leading role in England’s midfield as the women’s side won silver at the Commonwealth Games, including scoring the vital second goal in the 2-1 win over Scotland that secured a semi-final place.
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UPCOMING SJA EVENTS
Mon Mar 23: SJA British Sports Journalism Awards, sponsored by BT Sport, at the Grand Connaught Rooms.
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