What’s in a name? Everything when it’s your byline

By Ronnie Aitken

By Rod Atkin

By Dorothy Atkin

By Ron Atkinson

By Ronald Attkini

By Ron Hatchkin

By Ron Atkins

By Ronald Atkin

That great American humourist and songwriter, Loudon Wainwright III, offers an hilarious ditty titled “They’ve Spelled My Name Wrong Again”. At the Croydon concert I attended a couple of years back, it was his first offering after the neon sign outside the Fairfield Halls announced the presence of “Louden Wainright”.

Boy, do I know how Louden (sorry, Loudon) feels. Asked by SJA chairman Barry Newcombe (or should that be Bryan Newman?) to provide a tribute to the late Laurie Pignon, my emailed piece and the correspondence surrounding it between me and Steven Downes (Stephen Downs?) carried the names of Ron Atkins, Ron Aitkin and then the full, four syllable, 11-letter byline I prefer – Ronald Atkin.

It’s been going on ever since my first titled piece in the Nottingham Evening Post back in 1948. Lovingly preserved on our kitchen notice board are the originals of letters and memos addressed to Ronald Gutkin, Roy Atkin, Rod Atkin and even Mr Dorothy Atkin. There is an invoice to Mr R Hatkin and an accreditation to the Tennis Masters Cup made out to Ryes Atkin.

The Raffles Hotel in Singapore reserved me a room in the name of Ronald Attkini, Scotland Yard issued my security pass to Ron Atkine and the reservation slip on the table of a Paris restaurant was made out to Mr Hatchkin. The ones awarding me the “Atkins” plural are so numerous as to be not worth preserving.

I am known as Ron to my mates, Ronald to my wife and to God and my diminishing readership, and Ronnie to a very few chosen acquaintances. I am certainly not that famous football manager Ron Atkinson, though I have been asked for an autograph or two in Europe – and eventually supplied it so as not to disappoint.

And finally…I am, sadly, neither Scottish nor related to the Aitken family which once made Express Newspapers great.
This was an error I had to point out to my employers at The Observer when in March 1984 I became the SJA’s Sports Writer of the Year. That great publication, run in the main by a tight bunch of Oxbridge chums in those days, announced the award in one paragraph and called me “Ronald Aitken”.

  • Do you have any horror tales of byline cock-ups? Post your story in the comments section below


Mon Apr 16: SJA Spring Golf Day, Surbiton GC. Click here for booking details.

Thu Apr 19: SJA Annual General Meeting, Fleet Street, 12.30pm. Click here for details.

Thu May 10: SJA Ladbrokes Lunch with former England cricket captain Alec Stewart. Booking details to be announced.

Mon Sep 24: SJA Autumn Golf Day, Muswell Hill GC. Booking details from Paul Trow at

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