Michael Atherton was tonight named as the first winner of the SJA’s Cricket Writer of the Year Award.
Atherton’s award came early in the evening at the SJA British Sports Journalism Awards, sponsored by BT Sport, at the Grand Connaught Rooms in London’s Covent Garden.
The Times’s cricket correspondent is a past winner of the Sports Writer of the Year Award and Specialist Correspondent prize, and remains in the running for the former, which is among the last awards to be announced at the ceremony.
This year the SJA’s judges looked separately at the work of football, rugby and cricket writers as well as specialists in other sports, in an effort to broaden the recognition of the work of sports reporters.
For the cricket award, Atherton saw off challenges from the highly commended Vic Marks, of The Guardian, and the Telegraph’s Scyld Berry.
The judges declared that Atherton’s work “consistently exudes authority, with balanced informed opinion and has the ability to give closure to a story in a way that few others can. His article telling the story of the Leeds pals in the trenches during World War 1 was head and shoulders above anything else”.
Cricket writer was not the only new award presented tonight, as the SJA also introduced a tranche of new Sports Broadcasting Awards this year.
The Radio Sport Live Broadcast award went to BBC Radio 5Live for its coverage of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Highly commended were TalkSport’s coverage of the football World Cup in Brazil and BBC Radio Leeds’s presentation of the Tour de France’s Grand Depart.
The Television Sports Documentary prize was awarded to The Crazy Gang, the film about unfancied Wimbledon’s 1988 FA Cup final victory over Liverpool, shown on BT Sport. The judges described the programme as “a revealing and insightful portrait of a unique football club and one of the great stories of football history, beautifully filmed and skilfully edited.
“It was absolutely riveting.”
Highly commended were Match Of The Day at 50 from BBC Sport and An Ordinary Hero, also produced by BT Sport.
A fourth new award presented tonight went to the Specialist Sports Website, for those online organisations with 10 or fewer staff or contributors. The prize went to Sporting Intelligence: “The verve in which this website digs away at hot topics suggests a forceful operation,” the judges said, giving it the prize “for its break-out stories, depth of research and variety of subject matter”.
In other, longer established awards, freelancer Steve Etherington and Trinity Mirror’s James Maloney’s work was highly commended in the Sports Picture of the Year category, which was won by Getty Images’ Matthew Lewis, while the David Welch Student Sports Writer of the Year, for those aged 16 to 24 and in full-time education, went to City University’s Mark Critchley, ahead of Peter Fielding (Pates Grammar School, Cheltenham) and Alex Walker (Edinburgh University).
The three short-listed students will be recommended by the SJA for selection for an all-expenses-paid work experience placement at the European Games in Baku this summer.
- Further reports from tonight’s SJA British Sports Journalism Awards, sponsored by BT Sport, will be published on sportsjournalists.co.uk through the evening, or you can follow proceedings on Twitter via the #SJA2014 hashtag or @SportSJA
- Click here to see the short-lists for the SJA Sports Photography Awards
- Click here for the short-lists for the SJA Sports Writing categories
- Click here for the short-lists for the SJA Sports Broadcasting Awards
- The SJA is the largest member organisation of sports media professionals in the world. Join us: 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