Sunday December 11th
After a good Saturday night out socialising, it’s time to catch up on the weekend’s football action. I have recorded all the highlights and goals from the Barclays Premier League and Championship so I sit down to watch them. Contemporary football fans no doubt take this extensive television coverage for granted. But when I was a kid growing up in London, things were much simpler. We only saw two games on Match Of The Day on a Saturday night back then. Then on the Sunday afternoon, ITV’s The Big Match had a main London game plus two regional fixtures. And Wednesday night saw a cup tie (European competition, League Cup or FA Cup replay) screened by either BBC1’s Sportsnight With Coleman or ITV’s Midweek Sports Special. If you watched all that – which I did – then you knew everything about football for the week. It is all so different nowadays.
Monday December 12th
I am working on a history feature for the QPR club programme. It concerns a couple of fixtures from the great 1975/76 season where Rangers missed out on the League title by a point to Liverpool. So I dig out the scrapbooks that I kept at that time and read a number of match reports. I find 35 year old articles by the likes of Brian Madley in the Sunday People, Alex Montgomery in The Sun and Jeff Powell in the Daily Mail. When I was at school, other lads used to laugh at me because I diligently kept football scrapbooks. Now the cuttings are invaluable to me. I also have all but 10 QPR home programmes dating back to the Second World War, which I am constantly referring to as research tools. This football archive has taken over my house. Four of the spare bedrooms are stuffed full of memorabilia. I wonder how much a loft conversion will cost as I am desperately running out of space.
Tuesday December 13th
I put the finishing touches to a 5,100 word focus on Queens Park Rangers for the AirAsia in-flight magazine. This airline company are one of QPR’s new sponsors and so they want to introduce their passengers to the club. It is an interesting project for me as it is not aimed directly at football fans. So I have to write in a way that will hopefully interest a broad spectrum of people sitting on a plane. I outline the history of Rangers, the players’ pen pictures, reports on three of the club’s greatest matches, a focus on the Loftus Road stadium, plus interviews with Neil Warnock and Stan Bowles. Bowles is my favourite all-time player. I idolised him when I was a child. I find it amazing that I can now ring him up for a chat and he is always pleased to hear from me.
Wednesday December 14th
More programme articles today – this time for Watford FC. I compile a two page Diary Of A Groundhopper for all their home games. This focuses on my visits to football grounds around the country. Recent columns have varied from reviewing Brighton’s new stadium to attending a fixture in the London Airport Midweek League. I have watched matches at 1,736 football grounds to date so it is quite a passion of mine. The Groundhopper feature seems to be well received by Watford’s supporters and a couple of other clubs have already contacted me about including it in their programmes for next season.
Thursday December 15th
Today I am working on an article for FC Business Magazine about AFC Totton’s new stadium. This venue was showcased on ITV recently for a live FA Cup Second Round tie against Bristol Rovers. I interview Totton’s chairman to find out the benefit of their ground relocation and type up 1,500 words.
Friday December 16th.
I awake to see three inches of snow settling in my garden. My first thoughts are on how this will affect the forthcoming football fixtures. But I have to be prepared – come what may. So it is my stats day and I thoroughly immerse myself in the two matches I am scheduled to cover at the weekend. I plonk myself down in front of the computer and research goalscorers, appearances, past meetings, bookings, red cards, suspensions and quirky links between the teams involved. All this information is readily available on the internet of course. How did we ever survive before the world wide web? The only team news back in the old days was on Ceefax, Clubcall or in the papers.
Saturday December 17th.
I am booked to report on Swindon Town versus Morecambe for Sky TV’s Soccer Saturday programme. I set off for the West Country by train and arrive early so have time for a lovely pasta lunch in the hotel restaurant opposite the railway station. The match itself sees Swindon comfortably win 3-0 and their manager Paolo Di Canio gives an entertaining press conference afterwards.
Sunday December 18th.
I set off for Shepherd’s Bush with the trembling anticipation of a young child on Christmas Day. It is Queens Park Rangers versus Manchester United – probably the biggest game at Loftus Road for 15 years – and I am the touchline reporter for talkSPORT. But a Wayne Rooney goal in the opening minute dampens the home crowd’s excitement and United are worthy 2-0 winners at the end. This is the 986th consecutive QPR home game I have attended (League, cups, friendlies and testimonials) dating back to April 1973.