‘Tight battles’ to decide SJA British Sports Journalism Awards’ Written shortlists show industry’s strengths

Section’s chair of judges hails quality of entries during “tough times”; contenders in 15 categories announced ahead of gala ceremony on March 25; debut for Women’s Sport Journalist, and returns of Cricket and Rugby awards; book tickets now!

By Jon Holmes

After careful deliberations and several difficult decisions, the shortlists have been settled for the Written section of this year’s SJA British Sports Journalism Awards.

Chair of judges David Walker says the outcome demonstrates the consistently high standards in this part of the British sports media, despite ongoing challenges for the industry.

Fifteen category rundowns are announced here by the SJA, including the new addition of Women’s Sport Journalist – one of three categories that is also open to members of broadcast media, the others being Scoop and Social Media Journalist.

Dedicated awards for both Cricket and Rugby Journalists make their returns to the gala ceremony, which will be held in London on March 25.

David Walker

“We have an array of awards that reflect the excellence of writing in the British media,” said former SJA chair Walker.

“The past year has been a tough time for many sections of the written media but that has not impaired the quality of the entries our judges had to mark.

“There are one or two runaway winners but overall there are far more categories where we were waiting for the final votes to be cast to decide who won some tight, hard-fought battles.”

The two publishers with the most nominations are The Times & Sunday Times and the Daily Mail stable. They will go head-to-head for Digital Sports Publisher and the Newspaper award.

The Athletic won the Digital Sports Publisher category last time out

In the case of the latter category, both of the Times titles are in the final six. Similarly, the Telegraph – bidding for five consecutive wins – will vie with the Sunday Telegraph.

Mike Dickson, who died in January aged 59

There will be a poignant moment when the names are read out on the night for the Specialist Journalist award. Mike Dickson – the Daily Mail’s ‘Mr Wimbledon’ – will be among them, just a few weeks after the tennis writer’s tragic death.

Meanwhile, several other sportswriting greats will target repeat victories, such as Michael Atherton (Cricket Journalist), Jonathan Liew (Columnist), Donald McRae (Feature), Henry Winter (Football Journalist) and Matt Lawton (News Reporter).

The consistency of Newsquest Cumbria’s Jon Colman continues as he is shortlisted for Regional Journalist for a remarkable 14th straight year – he has eight career wins in total, going back to 2008. Portsmouth News’ Neil Allen, a two-time former winner, is in the regional running for the seventh time in a row.

The Ian Wooldridge Trophy goes to the winner of ‘Ones to Watch – Writing’. Six of the eight young sportswriters are brand new to this shortlist, an encouraging sign for those looking to the next generation of talent.

The line-up for Social Media Journalist is entirely fresh following the category’s debut last year, while after a Rugby World Cup year, two writers each from the Mail, Telegraph and Times stables are in the pack for that award.

Nine stories have been selected by the judges for the annual Scoop showdown, including Dele Alli’s deeply emotional interview with Gary Neville for Buzz 16’s The Overlap and the in-depth reporting of ‘The Concussion Files’ by The Sunday Times’ chief sportswriter, David Walsh.

David Walsh won his fourth SJA Feature Writer award last year – he was Sportswriter of the Year in 2000

The act of whittling down the numbers in each category is never an easy task, as Walker notes.

“As well as congratulating the shortlisted journalists on their abundant abilities, the SJA must also salute the judges who worked so hard to help decide who merited special mention among so many excellent entries.”

The winners will be announced at a gala ceremony, sponsored by The National Lottery, taking place at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge in London on Monday 25 March, 2024.

Tickets and tables are available to purchase now via the awards website.

Riath al-Samarrai won the John Bromley Trophy last time out


Sportswriter of the Year is chosen by a vote of national and regional sports editors.

This category does not require a submission, however to be eligible, journalists must be shortlisted in one of the other writing categories.


(Scoop, Social Media Journalist and Women’s Sport Journalist categories also open to broadcast media)


Alyson Rudd – The Times & Sunday Times
Jonathan Liew – The Guardian
Matt Dickinson – The Times & Sunday Times
Matthew Syed – The Times & Sunday Times
Oliver Holt – Mail Sport
Owen Slot – The Times & Sunday Times
Sarah Shephard – The Athletic
Sean Ingle – The Guardian


Ali Martin – The Guardian
Dean Wilson – Freelance
James Wallace – Freelance
Lawrence Booth – Mail Sport
Mike Atherton – The Times & Sunday Times
Nick Hoult – Telegraph Media Group
Paul Newman – Mail Sport
Steve James – The Times & Sunday Times


Mail Sport
The Athletic
The Guardian
The Telegraph
The Times & Sunday Times


Daniel Storey – The i newspaper
Don McRae – The Guardian
Ian Ladyman – Mail Sport
James Gheerbrant – The Times & Sunday Times
Jessica Holland – Freelance
Katie Whyatt – The Athletic
Riath Al-Samarrai – Mail Sport
Stuart James – The Athletic


Adam Crafton – The Athletic
Alyson Rudd – The Times & Sunday Times
Henry Winter – The Times & Sunday Times
James Olley – ESPN
Jason Burt – Telegraph Media Group
Jonathan Liew – The Guardian
Jonathan Northcroft – The Times & Sunday Times
Nizaar Kinsella – Evening Standard


David Conn – The Guardian
David Ornstein – The Athletic
John Percy – Telegraph Media Group
Matt Hughes – Mail Sport
Mike Keegan – Mail Sport
Rob Draper – Freelance


David Ornstein – The Athletic
Heather Dewar – Daily Mail
Martyn Ziegler – The Times & Sunday Times
Matt Hughes – Mail Sport
Matt Lawton – The Times & Sunday Times
Matt Slater – The Athletic
Rob Harris – Sky News
Sean Ingle – The Guardian


Daily Mail
The Daily Telegraph
The Guardian
The Sunday Telegraph
The Sunday Times
The Times


Aadam Patel – Mail Sport
Alex Pattle – The Independent
Art de Roché – The Athletic
Elgan Alderman – The Times
George Simms – The i newspaper
Katherine Lucas – The i newspaper
Malik Ouzia – Evening Standard
Um-E-Aymen Babar – Sky Sports / BBC Sport

The winner of the ‘Ones to Watch – Writing’ category will be announced on the SJA website on March 11. All those shortlisted in this category will be contacted shortly and invited to attend the awards as a guest of the SJA.


Chris Wathan – BBC Sport Wales
Ciaran Kelly – The Journal/ChronicleLive
Dafydd Pritchard – BBC Sport Wales
Danny Hall – The Star, Sheffield
Jon Colman – Newsquest Cumbria
Neil Allen – Portsmouth News
Phil Smith – Sunderland Echo – National World
Steven Chicken – Freelance


Alex Bywater – Mail Sport
Alex Lowe – The Times & Sunday Times
Daniel Schofield – Telegraph Media Group
Gavin Mairs – Telegraph Media Group
Nik Simon – Mail Sport
William Kelleher – The Times & Sunday Times


2030 World Cup would be held in several countries – David Ornstein (The Athletic)
City’s 115 Charges – Martyn Ziegler (The Times & Sunday Times)
Dele Alli interview – The Overlap (Buzz 16)
England men’s cricket team ripping up selection – Will Macpherson (The Telegraph)
Gianni Infantino leaves Women’s World Cup after less than a week – Rob Harris (Sky News)
Manchester United told senior staff that Mason Greenwood will return – Adam Crafton (The Athletic)
The Concussion Files (Concussion in Rugby Union) – David Walsh (The Times & Sunday Times)
The hidden truth behind Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea FC empire – Rob Davies, David Conn and Simon Lock (The Bureau Of Investigative Journalism / The Guardian)
US Ryder Cup Team Tension – Jamie Weir (Sky Sports News)


Aadam Patel – Mail Sport
Charlotte Daly – Mail Sport
Conor McNamara – Freelance
Milly McEvoy, Katy Hanscomb, Abi Curran and Megan Armitage – SPORTSBEAT
Rio Rosenberg – Hayters TV
Rob Harris – Sky News
Sanny Rudravajhala – Freelance


Dave Lockwood – BBC Sport
Dominic King – Mail Sport
Don McRae – The Guardian
Mike Dickson – Mail Sport
Sean Ingle – The Guardian
Tom Cary – Telegraph Media Group


Betty Glover – BBC Sport
Charlotte Harpur – The Athletic
Emma Sanders – BBC Sports News
Faye Carruthers – talkSPORT
Fiona Tomas – Telegraph Media Group
Kathryn Batte – Mail Sport
Nick Hope – Freelance
Suzanne Wrack – The Guardian

Take a look at some of the highlights from last year’s SJA British Sports Journalism Awards ceremony

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