Melling steals awards show

L-R: Melling won sports news reporter award; Jenkins (right) picked up top photography award; and Jones (middle) scooped journalist of the year

Stephen Jones of The Sunday Times and Tom Jenkins of The Guardian took the top honours at the Sports Journalism and Photography Awards on Monday, but the night belonged to Joe Melling.

The veteran The Mail on Sunday journalist, who is suffering from cancer, received an emotional standing ovation from colleagues at London’s Radisson hotel as he stood up to collect the award for sports news reporter of the year. He had been the most authoritative journalist on the David Beckham to Madrid transfer saga, the judges felt.

Surrounded by his wife, three daughters, his 86-year-old mother and big-name friends from the world of football – including former managers Ron Atkinson, Peter Reid and Jim Smith – Melling paid tribute to those who have helped him during his career and his battle with the illness.

“I don’t know if this is the beginning of the end, or the beginning of something new,” he told the audience.

But then the straight-talking Melling added with a note of defiance that he shouldn’t be written off from returning to reclaim his trophy in 12 months’ time. “I’ll tell you this: I might just come back and piss it again next year.”

Jones, the Sunday Times rugby correspondent, was named sports journalist of the year for his coverage of the England World Cup win and excellence throughout the year. Jenkins was named sports photographer of the year for his images in The Guardian and The Observer.

Jones was one of four writers from The Sunday Times to win an award. Andrew Longmore was named sports feature writer of the year, Brian Doogan collected the specialist correspondent award and David Walsh was the winner in the sports interviewer category.

Other winners in the journalism categories were Brian Reade of the Daily Mirror (sports columnist); Martin Smith of The Star, Sheffield (regional writer) and Charlie Sale of the Daily Mail (diarist). Team of the year was The Daily Telegraph for its London Olympic bid coverage.

The photography winners were dominated by Getty Images which won best sports portfolio (Clive Mason), sports action picture (Shaun Botterill), sports news picture (Dave Rogers) and sports feature picture (Scott Barbour). Sports picture of the year went to The Sun’s Mark Robinson, while freelance Geoff Waugh took the David Worthy Award for cycling photography. The Doug Gardner Award for services to sports journalism went to veteran photographer Monte Fresco.

By Ian Reeves

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