Newcombe takes the chair

Report by Ian Cole

Barry Newcombe is the new chairman of the SJA.

In the chair: Barry Newcombe
He was elected unopposed at the Association’s Annual General Meeting, held at the offices of Sport England on April 27. Newcombe succeeds Peter Wilson, who stood down after three years in the chair.

Newcombe is a widely respected sports journalist who has made his career in rugby union and tennis. He is president of the Rugby Writers’ Club and chairman of the Lawn Tennis Writers’ Association for a second time.

He has reported four Olympic Games for the London Evening Standard and two for the Sunday Express and is currently the SJA’s Olympic press attache and delegate to AIPS Congress.

In accepting his election, Newcombe told the AGM that the Association and its members faced challenging times in an era in which sport and entertainment were frequently intertwined.

He said: “It is my wish as chairman to maintain and uphold the highest traditions and standards of those of us in the sports writing sphere.”

Former SJA chairman Ian Cole, who had introduced Peter Wilson to the Association 20 years previously, proposed a vote of thanks to the outgoing chairman for his “sterling work and loyal commitment to the interests of the Association”.

Two current national newspaper sports editors were elected to the general committee – Jon Ryan of the Sunday Telegraph and David Walker of the Sunday Mirror – together with Craig Lord, swimming correspondent of the Times, and Leo Mason, who had been co-opted to the committee as a photographic representative following the death of Phil Sheldon.

Stuart Robinson, Daily Express photographer, will be Newcombe’s vice-chairman.

Fred Harris stood down from the committee and Peter Wilson thanked him for his enthusiastic support. Trevor Bond (social secretary) and Paul Trow (year book editor) remain as ex-officio members. Wilson stays on the committee as Immediate Past Chairman.

In his final report Wilson said there had been fruitful meetings with Seb Coe and organisers of London 2012 and that Coe had promised three briefings a year right up to the great day.

Wilson also announced that the SJA’s two flagship events, the Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year lunch and the Sports Journalism and Photographic Awards dinner, would be moving to the Brewery in Moorgate. David Welch would continue to chair the sub-committee charged with organising those events. With the support of Rolex, an exhibition of winning and highly recommended photographs from our competition would be on show in London for a week before going on display around the country.

Secretary Steven Downes said that these were important and exciting times for sports journalists in Britain. He revealed a two-year trial agreement with the Football Writers’ Association to encourage FWA members to join the SJA to facilitate their membership of AIPS and he thanked Keir Radnedge of the FWA for his support.

Treasurer Bill Colwill reported that membership last year had risen to 568, the highest in his ten years in office. The Association’s funds were healthy – but not as healthy as they would be with an overall sponsor.

Sponsorship of the two awards events, principally from UK Sport but also from Laureus, offset losses at both functions.

The meeting stood in silence in memory of Phil Sheldon and other members who had passed away during the previous 12 months.