Thursday, 26 June 2008

Toseland's Tumble Doesn't Stop Him Being Top

Ever since England were knocked out of Euro 2008 I've been racking my brains for something to do while Town are on their summer break...

This weekend I think I found a replacement, the Moto GP.

I've been watching it for a while now, every Sunday I pop on BBC 2 and wait for Suzi Perry to take me through the race track.

This week it was the British leg of the Championship at Donnington Park... and my god am I in love with this sport.

It's kind of like going to see the Blues at an away game - you travel up with fellow fans, stopping at packed out service stations for brekkie and feeling like you're part of one big family.

Except this family has 100,000 people in it and they all love the same thing!

We sat at McCleans corner (the one before the Coppice hairpin), surrounded by blue and yellow '52' flags - the colours and number of British rider James Toseland.

You know, with the footie not doing anything for national pride this summer I'd have thought JT would have got more attention than he has.

His first year in the best league of the sport and before the race he was 7th in the championship, had finished all but two of his races in the top ten and is a shining example of British pride.

Despite some poor warm up sessions, James was determined to do well for the British fans that had turned out to see him - and so, with his bike suit emblazoned with the St George's cross, he went into the race willing to except nothing but his best.

So the race began and all our heads turned to the big screens. You can imagine the collective gasp when, at the first corner, that red and white suit rose above the others and then came tumbling down underneath its bike.

To say I was gutted would be an understatement.

But the super-boy got up, dusted himself down and jumped back on the bike.

He was over half a lap behind the pack and as that gap grew it was clear that the bike had taken a battering - along with his ego.

I was so proud of him for carrying on, and clearly all the other fans were too. Each of the 29 times he rode past there was a round of applause and lots of cheers.

He knew we were there to see him and he didn't want to let us down.

What a boy.

So I'll be sticking with this new found passion for a little while longer - if only for the pictures of Mr Toseland.

Who knows what I'll do when the football season starts again and the two sports clash....

.... Maybe one day I'll be rolling up to Portman Road on the back of James' bike!!??

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Legalisation: The Right Solution To Prostitution?

Eighteen months ago two young girls were reported missing by their worried families.

They were Tania Nicholl and Gemma Adams, sex workers from Ipswich.

In the following month their bodies and the bodies of three girls like them were found, strangled and dumped. The Suffolk town would never be the same again.

Today the East Anglian reported that, thanks to the work of the Police and local Community projects in Ipswich, there are now NO girls working on the streets of Ipswich.

I recently made a Radio Documentary about what has been done in there to eradicate prostitution. In light of today's news I wanted to share it with you:

The government are yet to consider the Prostitution clauses of the Criminal Justice and Immigration bill.

It’s a debate that attracts a lot of attention and could see the UK move to either decriminalise sex workers, or completely outlaw the industry.

So what did Ipswich do that worked so well?

But that's obviously not the ONLY way to deal with the issue. What else has been done around the world?

So what do you think? It's such a complicated issue but it's so important that we make our minds up and decide on a course of action to help these girls.

Genuinely, everyone I met when I was making this documentary really believed in what they are doing.

The girls that have been helped by the Iceni project had absolutely no hope in life. They were desperate, at absolute rock bottom. Suzannah would probably have gone the same way as her parents if she hadn't had Brian and Co. to save her.

What if it was you, your Mum, your sister, or your DAUGHTER? Wouldn't you want to do whatever you could to get them out of this life?

No girl WANTS to be in this life, so lets help them get out of it.

May it one day not even be an option.

Monday, 9 June 2008

It's a Mann's World

This weekend I went to Silverstone to support a local World Renault Series driver...

Pippa Mann is from Ipswich, she's 23 and she's the only woman driver in the league that feeds into the Formula One championship.

I covered the race for Town 102 because she's a local girl... plus, it was a nice chance to report on something other than football.

Here's the package I put together for them which went on air today:

Pippa's been driving since thirteen, when she competed in Go-Karting competitions. By the age of nineteen she was driving for one of the top karting teams.

In 2007 she joined the Renault World Series and became the first female driver to earn points in that league.

This weekend she started the first race from 23rd place. As she says in the interview her tyres weren't right and it was a struggle for her to keep the car on the track at all.

But she managed to overtake one driver and with others dropping or crashing out of the race she finished 19th, leaving her 20th on the grid for the second race.

That's the one I attended.

Silverstone was not what I expected at all.

Being a seasoned football fan I thought it would be a beautiful, modern circuit with modern stands around it and maybe some hospitality suites for the VIPs.

But the seating areas... were the grass. And the VIP bit was a tent connected to her truck.

And do you know what? I think it was great!

There were so many people around (10, 000 apparently), and I started to feel bad for my stubborn addiction to the beautiful game. I'd never heard of the World Series before I was offered the opportunity to go there, but its worth a peep trust me.

Its an open race, no driver has won more than two races so far this season, and with less money than the Formula One the teams have to work even harder on their cars.

Its free to go and see, so check it out!

Anyway, back to the race.

Pippa spent her time battling with Brit Duncan Tappy. He was on her tail for the most of the race but she held him off well.

At one point she actually managed to lose him, catching up with the 19th place car. But another fault with the car saw her drop back.

Actually, it meant the dying seconds were the most exciting part of the race as she pulled right over to the inside to stop Tappy nipping past and held him off as she headed over the finish line.

The reaction at the camp was one of pride for her. She'd raced well, especially considering the severe heat yesterday.

She's now 25th in the league (of 26....) but it's only half way through the season so I'll be rooting for her to pick up a few more points.

I talked to her for a bit about my favourite topic, the treatment of Women in Sport. She says she's used to being the only girl in a man's world:

Pippa's next race is in Hungary on the 5th July, so good luck Pippa - give me something to think about while there's no footie!

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Becoming a Sports Journalist....The Next Chapter

This Tractor Girl has been away from the scene a little, but she's back for good now!

I have been completing the 'TV News' module of my MA, as part of which I have produced some bulletins for our three weekly shows on 'Westminster News'.

The best and most popular pieces of work have been used for our Website Westminster News Online.

I'm also going to be putting my favourites on our joint Blog 'The Word From Westminster'.

Anyway, heres the interesting bit......

I've recorded a Newsreel that we have produced, it showcases the best work from the module and gave me a turn at presenting:

Monday, 28 January 2008

Captain Fantastic

I was trying to think today of all the Ipswich Town Captain's I have seen in my lifetime.

Of course there's Mattie Holland...

Our very own Jim Magilton...

Legwinski, Wilnis and Naylor in recent years...

And now Jason De Vos.

On the pitch he seems to have such a presence, and it's no different when you meet him face to face.

He is absolutely HUGE - and I was in heels!

He's very knowledgable of the game, the club and how to handle the media. But at the same time he came across as relaxed which helped me to do the same.

Reminded me alot of Jim in that way!

Whilst I was setting up he told me how wierd it was for him sitting at home watching the football on Saturday when he would normally have been playing.

It was like me telling my friends how wierd I felt staying in on Wednesday night when I'd normally be out with them.

Except this was Jase...

And he obviously wanted to be playing football as much as I wanted to be in the SU bar last Wednesday!

As for the game, well I think they are looking forward to it.

The captain feels confident that the boys have made the most of their time off over the weekend.

He told me that the schedule is so jam packed they don't really have the time to practice whats going wrong and iron out the creases.

This week gave them an opportunity to do that.

Also, of course, it gave them a chance to rest their bodies a little.

I had been dying to ask him about David Norris playing at Portman Road and how he thought he'd cope with it.

Its the thing I've most been looking forward to about tomorrow night.

I figured it would be our chance, as fans, to make him feel welcome and encourage him to pick us as a future team.

But their boss, Paul 'I'm too scared of loosing my best player to a better team' Sturrock, has decided to leave him out.

He feels that Norris would be under too much pressure and cannot risk him being distracted.

Thing is, I said this to Jason and he said that that wouldn't happen.

(Just want to point out he said this before we heard the news on the Plymouth team so he wasn't being rude or anything!)

He said that as a player, once you are on the pitch you forget about everything else. All that matters is the game and getting a win.

I think Sturrock should have given Norris the chance to prove his worth, personally.

Listen to the De Vos interview:

Quick note on those transfers - Jim seems to think it'll get busy again on Wednesday and Thursday with regards to our plans so hopefully by the end of the week we'll have some newbies on board.

Finally, the Sturrock article also included accusations that Ipswich have not handled the transfer very well.

Jim actually alluded to something along these lines in his interview. Saying that he felt we had been patient and fair.

But Mr Sturrock seems to think we have created a bit of a media circus.

Thing is I don't think the club have ever said any more than 'We have offered a million for him'.

As my very knowledgable Daddy pointed out: The biggest point for gossip was a Derek Davis article saying Norris had not been to training - which of course led us to think he might be on the way out.

But where did he get that information from? I don't think he decided to spend the day on the south coast watching a mid-table Championship team go through training, do you?

Maybe the Plymouth camp isn't as inaccessible as we seem to be finding it when it concerns transfers, eh?

Favourite line of the day:

Jim Magilton: "I couldn't care less who's playing for them to be honest... I just want to win".

Well said!

Dream Come True

Ever had one of those weeks where you just feel like things could be working out just perfectly?

This week I began a four week work placement at Town 102 Radio, in Ipswich.

Everybody has said to me: 'Wow you'll be covering the Prostitute Murders Court Case'.

Thing is, that wasn't what was exciting me...!

In September my Dad and I went on the Portman Road Stadium Tour. We saw memorabilia from the glory years, walked through the players tunnel and best of all we visited the media centre.

Sat in seats in the press room I looked around and realised how 'at home' I felt. I really could see myself in the same seat in a few years time asking Jim how it feels to be top of the Premiership!!

Ok so I haven't managed that just yet but as you've seen I did get to enjoy an interview with him.

The highlight of that morning though was the fulfillment of one of my life-long dreams - interviewing an Ipswich Town player.

Interviewing Owen Garvan has been the best part of my placement so far.

He was very very sweet, VERY very cute and VERY VERY Irish. Which makes him perfect in my eyes!

We spoke mostly about the lack of away wins for Town.

You get the impression that they want the win just to relieve some pressure. As Owen says, it would be nice to get it off their minds.

He was also very sweet about the new signings - considering Jim is aiming for midfielders which would bring competition in against him.

He said it could help us and that he's looking forward to it.

But one very good comment he did make was that he doesn't feel it is new tactics or new players that will help us pick up the points on the road.

He believes it is all down to the mentality of the team. They want it so bad but they need to show it and work hard to get it.

What a sensible boy!

Listen to the interview in full.

So there we are, item number one on my list of 'Things to do before Im 30' can be ticked off...

...Next up, get one of them to marry me!

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Town to illuminate Blackpool

As part of my placement with Town 102 I have finally been given the chance to visit Portman Road in the guise of a Journalist.

Yesterday morning I battled through the poor weather traffic on the A14 to attend the weekly Ipswich Town Press Conference.

I was so nervous... but it was sooooooo good!!!

Town travel up North to Blackpool today, a team they haven't played in the league since the seventies.

The league newcomers currently occupy 16th place, 9 places but just 7 points behind us.

They have made a good impression in the Championship, loosing only three of their games at Bloomfield Road.

Jim Magilton, the most laidback guy I think I've ever met when it comes to dealing with the media, explained that the style of the ground - i.e. the lack of roofs! - will affect the way the game is played:

DivShare File - blackpool.wav

He paid particular praise to midfielder Wes Hoolahan and manager Simon Grayson:



But what about our team? Gary Roberts makes an unexpected return to the squad.

Gary has had a bit of a bad start to the season, making mistakes all over the field but Jim has decided he has earned a second chance.

The only injury worry we have is Gavin Williams, the boss doesn't want to risk making him play when he's not fully fit.

DivShare File - squad better.wav

All the local papers seem to be talking about is the transfer window.

With the club actually having money this year everybody is getting a little over-excited about who we can buy.

18 days in, the pressure is beginning to build on Jim to make a purchase, but he insisted he will not panic buy:

DivShare File - transfers.wav

On my way home after work it suddenly dawned on me that I had been sitting opposite the man that has more influence on my life than any other person.

Every decision he makes at Ipswich can potentially lead to me being very happy, or completely distraught.

It was surreal to be around him in his world... but then I realised - It's my world
now too!

Apologies for the late publishing of this article - am having problems with my computer!

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Spotlight on Ipswich

I have been a bit distressed this week to see my rolling news board on this page has been filled with stories of Steve Wright.

The trial of the man accused of killing five prostitutes began on Monday and every news department in the country appears to have moved into Ipswich.

For the next eight weeks our humble town will provide the leading story for the whole world - if only it were for something happier, eh?

I am lucky enough to be on month long placement at Town 102 Radio in Ipswich at the moment and it is fascinating watching them handle this major incident.

What is interesting is the difference between the small local stations (like Town) and bigger national organisations.

BBC Look East had three reporters at the court yesterday - they even went as far as presenting the evening news from outside.

Our station had a lovely reporter down there - and then rushing back to work through her lunch break on other local stories.

It just seems an injustice to me that the local journalists who have been there from the beginning, who have held campaigns to make women in Ipswich safer, are missing out on the big interviews to news producers that would not normally give two hoots about Ipswich.

In time people will start to forget what has happened but Ipswich will be forever stained with the events, just as Soham was.

I have no doubt reports of Ipswich Town games will all start with the line: The atmosphere in the ground was sombre because of what was going on down the road...

Anyway, back to the real world - The Blues have Blackpool on Saturday and they still haven't been able to get Norris...

...I'm sorry but it's what I've been thinking about this week!

Monday, 14 January 2008

Bright spark on the field

Danny Haynes showed the Portman Road crowd why he has made eight starts in the last nine games.

The youngster has previously impressed Ipswich Town fans, and indeed many others around the country but has found it hard to shake the 'Super - sub' label.

He told the website that he believes this is down to the tactics he has had to learn from his new playing position.

Along with Jonnie Walters and Billy Clarke, Danny has moved from up front to the wing - a job that entails much more defensive work.

I have always liked Danny - if for nothing else but his pure desire to score goals.

He has been increasingly impressive during recent games, and more notably for setting up chances on goal and doing his bit for the defence.

He is growing up and I have a feeling he will prove the doubters that he can make it as a first team regular.

(Sorry Daddy - I know you are one of them!)

His performance was rewarded with a special mention by the man who has held of giving him that place.

Jim Magilton called him our most dangerous player - and on a day when Alan Lee was in surprisingly good form that is a compliment!

When you draw 0:0 with an unglamorous team like Stoke its easy to feel a little hard done by - but I have to keep reminding myself Stoke are fourth.

Had the game lasted thirty minutes we would have secured a victory to be proud of.

We were fantastic - strong chances up front, solid defence and some good looking passes across the field.

But their goal from Ricardo Fuller (what is it with Ex-Ipswich players scoring against us) seemed to wash away our superiority and the rest of the game was much tougher.

Jim told the EADT the scoreline was'about right' for both teams.

But Stoke boss, Tony Pulis, felt the visitors deserved a penalty courtesy of Neil Alexander.

The popular keeper did appear to catch the boy but I think Pulis' accusation that Alexander 'took his legs away' was an exaggeration and a grab for an excuse for Fuller not converting more chances.

BBC Radio Suffolk again provided me with the best summary of the game saying that it was a hard fought point.

Well deserved, for both sides.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

New Year, New Leaf?

I woke up on Wednesday morning worn out from working at a nightclub on New Years Eve, and ever so slightly hungover from the champagne.

The prospect of West Brom at home did not encourage me to get out of bed!

Since Charlton away we have drawn at home to Scunthorpe and Burnley, the latter being the most dismal game I have seen in long while, and lost away in two equally appalling performances at Leicester and Coventry.

Add to that the fact the Baggies are top of the league and one of the favourites to go up this year, I was not hopeful for a happy result.

But I love my boys so I dragged myself over to Suffolk and I am so glad I did.

Give them their dues, West Brom are the best team I have seen play this season – they possess far more Premiership class than the likes of the inconsistent Watford.

Had it ended 0:0 I would have been really proud.

As for our boys, the lacklustre team that I saw at Leicester last week was long gone.

My man of the match was Alex Bruce, he was solid and professional and barely made a mistake all game – although if he is going to continue clearing the ball with his head he would do well to practice a bit!

David Wright turned in another fine performance, and was deservedly rewarded with the goal that broke the deadlock.

That goal was set up by EADT Man of the Match, Liam Trotter. I felt the youngster did have a fantastic game – creating play and passing the ball well. But after 70 minutes he looked shattered and had to be substituted.

My man Jonnie Walters had another good game, although he was very quiet. I would prefer to see him play on the right with Wright (!); but he did his job as a striker and missed a number of good chances on goal.

One other person I wanted to mention was Danny Haynes. He had another superb game, looking energetic and confident. Many other young players would look out of depth with such quality opponents but he upped his game and I was impressed – a permanent first team position could soon be his perhaps?

Ipswich are one of those teams who always benefit from playing against ‘better’
clubs. Following some recent awful performances, Town gave 24,000 fans an enjoyable afternoon at last.

And so with the New Year we turn over a New Leaf and hopefully will be able to build on this result to start securing that Play-Off position.

As a Radio Suffolk listener reminded us:

‘Ipswich haven’t lost away this year…’!