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Reporter slams critics of local sports journalism after winning national honour

Neil AllenA daily journalist has highlighted the value of regional sports journalism – and criticised those who fail to appreciate it – after winning a prestigious national honour.

Neil Allen, chief sports writer at Portsmouth daily The News, won the Regional Journalist prize at the 2018 British Sports Journalism Awards, held in London last night.

Both James Olley, of London’s Evening Standard, and Jon Colman, of Cumbrian Newspapers, were highly commended by judges.

Neil’s acceptance speech won praise from Sky Sports home page editor Jon Holmes.

Jon described it is a “great speech” on the “value of regional sports journalists, often underappreciated by clubs they cover”.

In a post on Twitter, he quoted Neil as saying: “They can ban us, they can try to discredit us, they can try to get us the sack – but we’ll always be there, after those people have gone.”

Neil told HTFP he had been inspired to make the speech after recalling an incident in which Portsmouth FC’s former press officer had told him in 2008 that the club “no longer needed the local paper” after their FA Cup win.

He said: “Quite a lot of people came up and shook my hand as I left the stage. There were so many great and talented people in that room, and a lot of people at various stages who have been banned by football clubs.

“Nearly every person on the regional shortlist had suffered that. They can try and silence us, but we’re always there.”

More than 600 guests were at the gala dinner at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, hosted by Jim Rosenthal.


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  • February 26, 2019 at 10:39 am

    Congratulations Neil – not only on your very well-deserved award but also on what you said.
    I loved my days as a regional sports editor/sports reporter but I know I had it easy compared to the guys who do it so well now. In the ‘old days’ we only had to worry about the odd spat with a manager, a grumpy club official or one of those irritating fans you get everywhere who seem to read every word you write (result!) just so they can find you out at a match to attack every one of those words.
    Now it seems clubs seem to treat regional journalists as the last people who actually need to know things while some fans have turned journo-abuse into a vicious blood sport online.
    So, to all those who are left working ridiculously hard to feed our 24 hour need for sporting nonsense in print and online I salute you. You deserve our every credit and I take my hat off to you Neil and all those who sail with you at the back of our beloved titles.
    Keep the back page faith.

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  • February 26, 2019 at 3:36 pm

    Sport is still a big selling point for papers, though at weekly level the quality is often pretty poor with lots of unedited sent-in and badly written material. Well done him though,

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