This was the first article I wrote for Oxford United's matchday programme, published on August 13th 2011, about a week in the club's press office
I’ve been a football fan for as long as I can remember. It wasn’t really an option to be anything else at home, with my Dad being a staunch Middlesbrough fan and my Mum being able to understand the old offside rule! As I’ve grown older and became more and more interested in football, I found I became keen on writing about the game and the stories surrounding it.
It always sounded like the ideal career for me, so after gaining some writing experience for my university newspaper, I applied for work experience with Oxford’s media department completely on the off-chance, and they offered me some experience in August, probably one of the busiest times of the year. In my first week, I did just about everything from proofreading to meeting England legends and even managed to take in the Cardiff City game at the Kassam from the relative comfort of the press box.
My first day was relatively sedate, however, as the reaction from the Rotherham defeat was the primary focus in the press office. I also transcribed an interview with new signing Michael Duberry from Yellow Player for the club website, which is something I had only had limited experience of doing previously. In the afternoon, I helped proofread the programme for Wednesday night’s Cardiff game and also a leaflet designed by the Commercial department for potential corporate sponsors.
Tuesday continued in much the same vein, although the loan signing of striker Lewis Guy from MK Dons caused some excitement in the press office as we tried to find out as much information as possible about him for when the story was released. This was also a good insight into how club’s communicate with each other, as our Head of Communications was on the phone to his MK Dons counterpart over the nature of Guy’s loan deal and also when it would be possible to release news of his transfer officially.
Tuesday also saw the press conference in the lead-up to the Cardiff game, with three players and the manager Chris Wilder being interviewed by members of the local press and also by the website for Yellow Player. This also gave me a good insight into the nature of interviewing, and the levels of preparation required so that the players and manager let the fans know what is going on within the club.
On Wednesday, we welcomed Cardiff City for the first round of the Carling Cup. However, before we could even think about the game, the Kassam played host to two England goalkeeping legends, Gordon Banks and Peter Shilton, who were here on behalf of MusicMagpie. Naturally, as someone who follows football closely and is very aware of its proud history in this country, I was very excited to meet these two greats of the game and watch them advertise MusicMagpie’s new initiative Freekits with the help of youngsters from Garden City FC.
Then came the evening of the game, and I was very privileged to sit in the press box, feet away from BBC Oxford’s Jerome Sale, a man who I’ve been watching and listening to for a number of years. I was given the opportunity to provide live text updates for fans on the club’s official website, something we were trialling in parallel to our very popular Twitter feed. The game itself, as everyone knows, was a heartening yet disappointing 3-1 defeat for the U’s, but the general consensus in the press box was that Oxford could take plenty of positives.
Thursday was another press day as we got reaction from the previous night’s game from players and the manager. The general vibe around the club was that we could recover from two defeats on the bounce and defeat Bradford. Can we? Let’s hope so!
Looking back at my first few days in Oxford’s press office, I feel like I’ve learned a lot about what it’s like to work in the media and the work that goes in day-to-day in the running of a football club. Of course, given the current job climate, getting work experience, even for a few days, is not easy. However, I would say that working in a football club’s press office is probably one of the best starting-points for any budding journalist. And it’s turned me in to a bit of an Oxford United fan!