Benny's boys are reunited

Whatever the collective name for sports journalists is – a squad, a scrum, or something a bit more esoteric like a cardus – there was certainly one in a Sheffield pub on the day former Morning Telegraph sports editor Benny Hill invited ex-colleagues to celebrate his 80th birthday.

He brought together from around the country more than 50 journalists who had contributed to the sports pages during his 26 years on the city’s daily morning paper until its closure in 1986.

People travelled from far and wide to an event, unlikely to be repeated – from London, Edinburgh, Sussex, Surrey, Newcastle, and various parts of the north and Midlands.

Hill was a familiar figure in press boxes around the country – he claims to have been to every Football League ground while covering Barnsley, over 50 years in journalism. He said he was touched by the turnout for the ‘remarkable gathering’at The Three Merry Lads, near his home in Lodge Moor.

‘Many started as youngsters and went on to be successful and highly influential figures and plenty still are,’said Hill. None more so than BBC football commentator John Motson whose stint in Sheffield in the late Sixties was his last in print journalism before moving into broadcasting.

‘I was the only person there who knew them all,’Hill said, ‘and I went round the various groups – some hadn’t seen each other for more than 20 years – and they were talking about different matches and players from their time working in Sheffield.’

In addition to Motson – who had rearranged his schedule to make the trip – others of Hill’s ‘old boys’included Sun sports editor Edward Chadwick; Andy Elliott, now director of sports content at the Press Association; Simon Pearson, executive editor of The Times; Peter Ferguson, leading football writer on the Daily Mail; Howard Wright at the Racing Post; Jon Culley of The Independent, and Jim Ferguson, now on The Scotsman.

Many former national newspapermen such as Peter Cooper and David Moore, along with David Jones, former sports editor at Granada TV, chatted over old times and noted that Hill’s way of ordering and organising in his inimitable, plain-speaking Barnsley manner had not diminished over the years.

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