Biography

Born and brought up in the Leeds suburb of Horsforth, Jonathan was probably introduced to sport before he was old enough to walk. Certainly, by the age of two, he claims that his love of horse racing was fostered in unusual circumstances, getting lost among the crowd at Ripon racecourse.

Cricket was always a great love, engendered by his dad’s involvement at the local club Horsforth Hall Park and so summer Saturday afternoons were usually spent pitchside with bat or ball in hand and two brothers to play against.

Being brought up in the era of the great Leeds United team headed up by Don Revie, it is no surprise that Jonathan supported his home town club and also played football himself from the age of seven.

With no cricket, winter weekends were usually spent watching Grandstand, World of Sport (in particular, the ITV Seven!) and Match of the Day. By the age of seven, his dad Peter had conveniently moved his business to St Michael’s Lane, Headingley and so introduced Jonathan and his brothers to rugby league and Yorkshire County Cricket Club, which was just over the road.

Apart from wanting to emulate his boyhood heroes such as jockey Jonjo O’Neill, rugby league star John Holmes, footballer Peter Lorimer, cricket legend Sir Ian Botham and athlete Steve Ovett, Jonathan always loved to mimic commentators such as David Coleman, John Motson, Eddie Waring and Michael O’Hehir and had a burning ambition to commentate on the Grand National or a Wembley final.

At the age of 15 he was featured in the local newspaper for having written and chaired his own sports quiz, where the contestants were adults, to raise funds at the club he then played for, Pudsey St Lawrence.

After an initial career in financial services, he took advice from friends Sid Waddell (yes, the late, great darts commentator) and his wife Irene and was encouraged by both to pursue that long-held media dream.

To help facilitate the career change, Jonathan studied for a degree as a mature student, taking a joint honours degree in Media and Sport, at Leeds Trinity University, graduating in 2001 with a first and receiving the John Newsome Award for excellence.

While doing that, the door opened on a new career and after learning his trade with Leeds Hospital Radio, he moved to BBC Radio Leeds, where he was offered weekend work reporting on rugby league and football, before becoming a regular member of the sports department, producing the Night Sport programme for John Boyd and presenting sports bulletins.

He also spent many happy hours covering his beloved Yorkshire CCC and whenever he could, persuaded his colleagues that it would be a good idea to get out with the ISDN kit and broadcast some racing!

In 2001, at the recommendation of then colleague Ian Dennis (these days doing a brilliant job on BBC 5 Live), Jonathan moved to TEAMtalk where he both wrote for the website and then broadcast on their 24-hour sports radio station TEAMtalk 252 LW.

Jonathan presented the weekly rugby league show “League Talk” on the station alongside friend and media colleague Phil Caplan, while he also produced and co-presented daytime programming and commentated on rugby league, racing and football’s 2002 World Cup.

On the demise of the station, he returned to freelancing for several years, during which time he co-wrote Super League: The First 10 Years http://www.thehistorypress.co.uk/products/Super-League-The-First-Ten-Years.aspx with Phil Caplan.

Having presented Sky’s “Sportslive” sports betting radio show as a freelance for some years, Jonathan was then contracted full-time by the company. During that period, he was the voice of rugby league for the station, while also commentating on Test cricket, football, rugby union, and both horse and greyhound racing.

Highlights included being on-course presenter at the Cheltenham Festivals of 2010 and 2011, when his feel for the history of the event was abundantly clear, and also doing the same at the Epsom Derby meeting, plus numerous other racedays.

Continuing to write as part of his role, he also had regular stories, previews, reviews and opinion pieces on renowned websites www.skysports.com and www.sportinglife.com.

Jonathan returned to freelancing, although continued to work for Sky both on TV and radio, appearing in-vision as a regular rugby league reporter and also broadcasting on cricket and football.

He also made his debut as commentator on Premier Sports in 2013.

In addition, he has been working on online guides to sport with Wiremill Publishers, broadcasting for Betfred, William Hill and writing for League Weekly and occasionally both Forty-20 and League Express. More recently, he has become a regular contributor to the Jockey Club Racecourses podcast #Lovethejumps, assisting TV channel Racing UK, Independent Content Servcies and undertaking sports digital consultancy work.