Final whistle for Northants Telegraph sports reporter Jon Dunham after 24 years service
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Today the Northants Telegraph says farewell to our longest-serving reporter – Jon Dunham – after 24 years service.
Being paid to watch sport for a living could be a dream come true for many fans, and for Jon, that has certainly been the case.
He’s hanging up his notebook and pen after reporting on the North Northants’ sports scene since a teenager on work experience.
Roped in one day by Evening Telegraph deputy sports editor Derek Waugh, who recognised Jon’s writing skills, he never looked back.
Jon said: “My first real taste of the then Evening Telegraph was back at the old site on Northfield Avenue where I did a couple of weeks of work experience on the Sportsdesk.
“Having left school and gone to college to study in media, I just got a lucky break. I got to know the late, great Derek Waugh from going to watch Kettering Town and just said to him that if he ever needed any help that I was interested in the industry.
“One day while I was having a typical student lie in, Derek rang my dad who then rang me and told me to get my backside out of bed and get to the offices in Rothwell Road because Derek just needed an extra pair of hands.
“I went in that day and, luckily for me, I was never asked to leave.”
After NCTJ training and stints as a news reporter in Corby and Wellingborough, Jon moved back to sport as soon as possible.
He said: “I worked on the newsdesk for a number of years and then managed to get back onto sport and it's just been a wild ride from there."
When it comes to the local sporting scene, he’s ‘seen it all’.
On Boxing Day 2003, Jon was handed the job of covering Kettering Town – the team he supported as a child.
He said: “I still remember my first game covering them on Boxing Day 2003, they won 3-2 at Bedford Town and it was the day Kevin Wilson was appointed as the new manager.
“Since then, the Poppies have had more ups and downs than your average rollercoaster. From Paul Gascoigne being appointed as manager for those infamous 39 days, to memorable FA Cup runs, to so nearly going into financial oblivion, to bouncing back with life at Latimer Park - it's been a great time.”
Jon, 42, has also covered both Corby Town and AFC Rushden & Diamonds extensively over the past few years as well as other sports.
Corby Town FC’s reporter Chuck Middleton said: “Jon, has been and will always be connected to Corby Town. We offered warmth in the press box whilst other local clubs gave nothing more than a cold seat in the stand. He has had some great times at Steel Park and his support and reporting will be missed.”
At Jon’s final match reporting on Kettering Town FC, he was honoured by the Poppies with a signed ball and presented the man of the match award.
But it’s not all been about football. He’s covered everything from skittles to cribbage, hockey to horseracing.
He said: “The other big thing about this job is seeing homegrown sporting talent come good. The likes of Charley Hull, Kyren Wilson, Jordan Vucenic and Ricky Evans have been a joy to cover from their early years to the high level they now perform at.
"Overall, it's just been an honour and privilege to work in my home county and deliver the news to the people.
“There can't be many people who can sit here, hand on heart, and say they have enjoyed every single second of just over 24 years of working at the same place but I really have. I am leaving happy and I am really grateful for that.”
After matches he has been known to engage in forthright Twitter (X) debates that have carried on for hours and it’s the people he’s going to miss.
He said: “It's probably the people and the characters at these clubs who I will miss more than anything, although I am sure I won't be able to stay away from local football matches for too long.
“Overall, it's just been an honour and privilege to work in my home county and deliver the news to the people.
“I have so much to be grateful for from the company, particularly from the sports editor at the time the late, great Ian Davidson, Derek and the editor at the time David Rowell because they all took a punt on a young kid who had no experience but just a burning desire to work in the industry.
“As far as this job is concerned, it’s given me everything and I feel I have given everything I’ve got to it. Trust me, I’ve lived it.
“I want to thank everyone who ever took the time to read something I wrote either in print or online.
“We’ve certainly seen plenty of ups and downs on the sporting front and it’s been a true privilege to deliver the news to you.
“To all the managers, players, local sportspeople and everyone in between, thanks for talking to me - sometimes at ungodly hours.”
Colleague Alison Bagley has worked alongside Jon for his whole career at the Northants Telegraph.
She said: “Jon has been a fantastic champion of local sport. He has put his heart and soul into every story and gone above and beyond the call of duty. I’m sure he’s looking forward to having his weekends back, but knowing Jon, he won’t stay away from the sidelines for long.”