Tuesday, 12 July 2011

How my Daddy inspired me to be a Sports Journalist

My Dad has three daughters, I'm the eldest and then there's Rebekah and Madeleine. I often wonder if he was ever a little disappointed; no boys to take along with him to the football. But he needn't have worried, because all three of us have followed in his footsteps and become avid town fans.

Growing up in Stowmarket, my Dad started supporting Ipswich despite the fact that my Grandad supports Narwich - clearly he saw sense! He's been to watch Town play all over the world; especially in their European Heydays. He also has this uncanny knack of being able to predict match results, many a time have we been driving down the A14 when he's said 'I've got a bad feeling about today' or even ' yep, we'll be ok today'.

Some of the best memories I have involve the five of us (Dad, me, Bekah, Maddie and Town): Inter Milan being the one that stands out. From the moment we left home you could see that he was so proud to be going to this history-making match with his girls. The town centre was swarming in blue and white shirts, coaches and coaches of us there were. I'll never forget sitting at a table outside a cafe, 'Winter Wonderland' coming over the speakers and every single Town fan singing 'There's only one Marcus Stewart....' at the top of their voices. My Dad was beaming, he was in his element and I'm so proud to have shared that with him.

The other greatest memory is one I'm sure you all share: May 29th 2000, Wembley. Dad made sure the whole day was amazing; walking down Wembley Way in a sea of Blue and Red, emerging from the turnstiles into this amazing ground, finding our seats were only about 10 rows from the front. But the image that I will never forget was Reuser scoring that fourth goal: my Dad was so elated, he and the two men in front were hugging! Unlike me, he doesn't often get emotional at the football and I think that was a sign of what the whole day had meant to him.

The overall feeling that I got from these days, and the many other trips we've made to watch The Blues, is that these are stories that should be told. The ups and downs a fan feels supporting their team, the unknown tales about cafes in Milan and a little man with a microphone walking around the ground chanting before every game - these are what should be being published in newspapers and online. That's why I decided to be a Journalist and I've got my Dad to thank for showing me that world.

When I was 21 I got a work placement at the BBC Radio Football department, I was so excited about it and couldn't wait to tell my Dad. Whilst I was there I was involved in some great programmes, and each night on the way home I would call Dad to tell him about it. The best moment? Then Town manager Joe Royle featured as a guest on a show I was researching for and they asked me to look after him. I went to meet him and walk him to the studio. I remember, he was trying to figure out how to use his mobile phone: so funny watching him staring at it whilst walking along and nearly bumping into people - just like my Dad does after every game!

My colleagues there teased me that the reason I got that placement was that I'm an Ipswich fan. For some reason alot of staff there support Town, and those that don't have a huge respect for what they did in the eighties. So I guess I have my Dad to thank for that!

Then a few years ago I bought my Dad what I think was the best birthday present ever! I bought him a stadium tour of Portman Road. We were shown the changing rooms, we walked up the tunnel, we were allowed to sit in the dugouts (that was cool) and then we were shown the media suite. I loved this part!

Literally four months later I was back there again, this time working as a journalist. I got another work experience placement with Town 102, in Ipswich: They knew I was a Town fan so they asked me to go along to the Press Conferences for them and I loved every minute. Steve the Press Officer introduced me to Jim Magilton as 'legs', Jim used to try and get Matt Holland into his answers just for me and straight after every press conference I would call Dad to let him know if anything good had been said. I loved being able to give him the inside knowledge!

In every day reporting on the club he helped me too, he would text me and make sure I knew all the stories that were coming. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Town 102, it was the best job I've had so far, and I think I made a genuinely good impression as a sports reporter. I reckon I have my Dad to thank for that too.

Nowadays, I am, sadly, a little further away from becoming a Sports Journalist than I would have liked: but I'm still trying to get there. When I was a teenager Dad always used to give me advice in 'Ipswich Town terms', and I'm sure there's a suitable analogy for me now too - perhaps he would say 'It took Ipswich five years to get back up to the Premier League, your time will come'.

I'm sure it will Daddy, and I have you to thank for all the wonderful experiences I have had with Town so far - here's hoping there'll be many more in the coming years too.

Happy Birthday Daddy.

No comments: