Neil Allen has been honoured with a prestigious journalism accolade.
The News’ chief sports writer was crowned Regional Journalist of the Year at the British Sports Journalism Awards.
The annual event brings together the most distinguished names in sports journalism, with more than 600 present at Monday’s gala dinner held at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge.
And Allen fought off stiff competition on a shortlist of six to be recognised in the regional category.
In his acceptance speech (which you can watch at the top of this page), Neil spoke about the importance of local newspapers in covering football clubs.
His entries included Pompey footballer Dion Donohue’s heartbreaking account of the day he thought he had lost his son and partner during childbirth, and Ronnie Saunders’ moving memories of his dad and Pompey Hall of Famer Ron, who now resides in a nursing home with Alzheimer's unable to recall his great accomplishments as a player and manager.
Completing the portfolio was an interview with Blues fan Lucy Oliver, wife of Premier League referee Michael, who candidly revealed her social media torment having been targeted for threats and abuse after her husband sent off Gianluigi Buffon in the Champions League.
Speaking to The News, Allen said: 'It's a tremendous honour which I would like to dedicate to all those hard-working local and regional sports reporters out there.
'As mentioned in my speech, we are here to report on the good times and, vastly more often than not, absolutely awful days.
'The hierarchies at football clubs can ban you, they can discredit you, they can attempt to get you the sack.
'But we will always, always outlast these people.'
Allen emerged ahead of the Evening Standard’s James Olley, who later in the evening would claim Sports Scoop for his Wembley for Sale exclusive.
Olley was highly commended alongside five-time winner Jon Colman, from the Carlisle News and Star.
Also shortlisted was reigning holder Chris Wathan (BBC Wales) along with two reporters from our sister JPIMedia tiltes: Danny Hall (Sheffield Star) and Phil Hay (Yorkshire Evening Post).
Allen also earned praise for his speech on the night, addressing the importance of local media and reflecting on his difficult Pompey experiences.
With the event hosted by Jim Rosenthal, other awards went to the Guardian’s Daniel Taylor (Football Journalist), the Telegraph’s Paul Hayward (Sports Writer of the Year), and BBC Radio 5Live’s John Murray (Sports Commentator).
In addition, legendary commentator Barry Davies was honoured with Services to Sports Journalism.
Allen’s work was last year highly commended at both the British Sports Journalism Awards and the Regional Press Awards.