FWA Q&A

FWA Q&A: JAMES NURSEY

JAMES NURSEY of the Daily Mirror on a bad gag at Peterborough…the hairdryer from Bruce and O’Neill…and being on the bleach in Bulgaria

Your first ever newspaper?
The Argus in Sussex in 2001. I had a job covering Non-League football for the paper and various other sports.

Have you ever worked in a profession other than journalism?
No, apart from the odd student or holiday job working behind the bar as a teenager.

What was your finest achievement playing football?
Err, rather limited, probably captaining Loddon Grasshoppers U-12s B team to a 5-a-side youth football tournament trophy presented by then Norwich striker Robert Rosario.

Most memorable match covered?
As a new sports reporter at The Birmingham Post in March 2003, attending Aston Villa 0-2 Birmingham in the Premier League was a definite eye-opener. The match was a feisty affair as Dion Dublin got red carded for head-butting a certain Robbie Savage and Joey Gudjonsson was also sent-off. But the red-hot atmosphere in the stands was what I remember just as much and it served as a real education as to the Second City rivalry. I recall the press were told to stay in the ground long after the match as the streets outside were so dangerous!

The one moment in football you would put on a DVD?
I’ve had the hairdryer off Steve Bruce and Martin O’Neill. That would be worth watching but would have to be an 18-certificate!

Best stadium?
Wembley. It was late and very expensive to build but at least we have ended up with a world-class stadium once more now they have sorted the grass out.

…and the worst?
Peterborough’s London Road, visiting the antiquated toilet facilities there are enough to make you gag.

Your best ever scoop?
Being invited around Carson Yeung’s house near Wimbledon a few years ago for his first interview when he was buying BCFC. I remember at the time being told he paid for the property in cash, which on reflection says a lot.

Your personal new-tech disaster?
Dropping and breaking my Blackberry was pretty expensive and stressful. I hated being unreachable for the office and potential stories. Thankfully the Daily Mirror kindly replaced it quickly.

Biggest mistake?
Err, a few to chose from. Mixing up twins Dean and David Holdsworth a few years ago certainly cracked a few journalists up. I’ve also had my share of bans but none are still outstanding or in force.

Have you ever been mistaken for anyone else?
A few journos have said I look like Thomas Sorensen.

Most media friendly manager?
I really rate Chris Hughton who, while not controversial, is a very likeable, decent person – not to mention fine coach. But for box office value you cannot beat Jose Mourinho, who continued to fascinate and entertain on his recent UK appearance for United v Real.

Best ever player?
Cristiano Ronaldo was always exhilarating to watch when he was at Manchester United. Most people, especially the press, have missed Ronaldo since he went to Spain.

Best ever teams (club and international)?
Club…The Arsenal Invincibles were literally unstoppable in the Barclays Premier League. A fantastic achievement by Arsene Wenger who I admire greatly but his halo has slipped considerably since. Perhaps he should step aside soon with his pride and dignity relatively intact? International….I am enjoying watching the current Spain side a lot. It is great to see a side prevail simply by passing the opposition off the park – and is definitely preferable to the Germans winning.

Best pre-match grub?
I enjoy the mussels and prawns at Stamford Bridge on the odd occasion I am sent.

Best meal had on your travels?
I remember eating at a restaurant called the Cafe de Paris which was very classy and buzzing…even though it was in Hamburg

…and the worst?
I find increasingly stale sandwiches and dodgy pies wheeled out for the press, the lower down the leagues you go. But the friendliness and player access usually makes up for it and is a refreshing antidote to the sometimes sanitised world of the Barclays Premier League.

Best hotel stayed in?
The Radisson in Frankfurt before Germany v Wales in 2007 was very good. It had a relaxing indoor pool on the top floor. But I gave decided against the sauna when I opened the door and a couple of people were letting everything hang out.

…and the worst?
An Eastern-Bloc style place in Bulgaria ahead of Litex Lovech v Villa in the Uefa Cup in 2008. All the rooms stank of strongest detergent imaginable.

Favourite football writer?
Mike Walters of the Daily Mirror. Mike has a unique perspective on the game and personalities which always informs and entertain. His witty style is also very original.

Favourite radio/TV commentator?
I enjoy listening to John Murray’s football and golf commentaries. He gives a good perspective on what is going on with plenty of colour on the surroundings too.

If you could introduce one change to improve PR between football clubs…
Urge football clubs/managers to be more honest and not to lie to the press and dismiss stories which turn out to be true.

One sporting event outside football you would love to experience?
As a golf fan, The Masters.

Last book read?
All Hell Let Loose by Max Hastings. The world at war 1939-1945

Favourite current TV programme?
Sherlock

Your most prized football memorabilia?
Still have my programmes from Norwich’s UEFA Cup games against Bayern Munich and Inter Milan which were great times to experience as a fan.

Advice to any would-be football writer?
Don’t give up. Take any rejections or criticism on the chin and get up again.

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