Stelling starts Countdown for Broadcast awards

Voting has opened for SJA members to choose their Sports Broadcaster and Sports Programme of the Year.
Here, PETER WILSON marks your card on the likely runners and (Steve) Riders for the 2008 honours

There must have been a huge sigh of relief among sports broadcasters when it was announced that Jeff Stelling would replace Des O’Connor as the presenter of Countdown, Channel 4’s programme for those who, quite frankly, haven’t got much else to do with their lives.

That, though, would have been followed pretty swiftly by a very loud groan when the diminutive Hartlepool supporter confirmed that he would continue hosting Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday programme.

That is because Stelling has won the SJA’s Sports Broadcaster of the Year Award for all three years since it was introduced (pictured above receiving the award from David Morgan), and he will no doubt be well-backed to make it four in a row at the SJA’s British Sports Journalism Awards on March 9.

Stelling takes over at the quiz show in January and will have a new sidekick far more attractive than Chris Kamara, as Rachel Riley, a 22-year-old maths graduate, replaces Carol Vorderman, who stands down today after 26 years with the show.

In an interview Stelling did with the SJA Bulletin last spring, he said he was “quite knackered every Saturday night” and turned into a couch potato. Heaven knows what he will be like after that and recording a week’s worth of Countdown. Still, at least he will be working with grown-up on the Channel 4 show.

Stelling is not the only journalist going for a record. Martin Samuel, whose decamping from The Times to the Daily Mail will earn him a reported £400,000 a year, will be attempting to win the Sports Writer of the Year Award for an unprecedented fourth time in a row.

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2008 SJA Sports Broadcast Awards – prompt list

Here are a few suggestions of worthy candidates for your votes, for broadcasters and programmes – you are free to vote for others not included here

Adrian Chiles, Match of the Day 2 presenter

Olympic Grandstand, BBC

Brian Alexander, Radio 5 Live investigative reporter

Clare Balding, versatile frontwoman for racing and much more

Steve Bunce, boxing pundit who pulls no punches

Channel 4 Racing

Stan Collymore, a football pundit with something worth saying

Andy Gray, Sky Sports No1 analyst

John Inverdale, always calm interviewer

David Lloyd, lynchpin of Sky’s cricket coverage

Cricket on Sky

Matthew Pinsent, oarsman with deft touch on TV

Garry Richardson, Today programme’s tipster and host of ever-excellent SportsWeek

SportsWeek, Richardson’s Radio 5 show that sets the week’s agenda

Shirley Robertson, out of her boat, a broadcasting discovery

Jim Rosenthal, class will out

Jeff Stelling, “I’ll have a P , please, Jeff”

Adrian Warner, BBC London’s story-breaking Olympics reporter

Soccer AM, on Sky, not as good as it used to be?

Helen Chamberlain, still a weekend highlight

Place your vote by clicking here now

This year’s SJA British Sports Journalism awards will again be sponsored by UK Sport, along with our new supporter Sky Bet, which will be associating its name with a new award, the Sports Betting Writer of the Year. This will be awarded to the writer who informs and entertains on issues relating to all types of sports betting.

Chris Smith, three-times Sports Photographer of the Year, heads the judges in the photographic awards.

This will again have six categories, with the judges then picking their top snapper. Last year’s overall winner was PA Sport’s Gareth Copley, who was then just 27. This year he could also win the Young Sports Photographer of the Year because, along with the Young Sports Writer of the Year, the age limit has been raised to 30.

With so much money invested in the internet nowadays, that should be a keenly fought category, while the cartoon entries will again show high standards.

First posted Dec 12

â–¡ UK Sport is the longest standing lead sponsor of the Sports Journalists’ Association, with a partnership that goes back more than a decade. Sky Bet is the SJA’s newest partner, the sponsorship being announced in October 2008.

Both partners support the SJA’s two prestigious annual awards events, including the presentation of a special UK Sport Award for excellence at the SJA’s Annual Sports Awards and the sports betting writer of the year at the SJA’s British Sports Journalism Awards.

The SJA Annual Sports Awards are the longest established of their kind in the United Kingdom, having been first staged in 1949. The 60th SJA Sports Awards were staged in London on November 26.

More sports journalism links

Enter the 2008 SJA British Sports Journalism Awards – for further details, click here