Sunday, 31 January 2010


Mr Jobsworth is alive and well and has moved to the DW Stadium in Wigan. I had the pleasure of making his acquaintance after spending several hours in sub-zero temperatures reporting Everton's 1-0 win.

When a match is over at Wigan Athletic, they close the public gangways and the press have to make their way to the press room, on the ground floor, by walking down the stand to pitchside. Once there, the press room is easily reached by going down the players tunnel and from there it is a few paces along the corridor.

This simple route is however off limits. Mr Jobsworth, in his lovely pink dayglo tunic, informed me that press were not allowed to go through the double doors across the tunnel. Instead I was to walk down the side of the pitch the length of the stand to the far end, do a u-turn, and retrace my steps the same distance inside the stand. This brought me out on the other side of the same double doors.

Well done Mr Jobsworth!

Saturday, 30 January 2010


I've launched a new blog for TT and Manx Grand Prix news, chat, pics and other bits and pieces. It's at i-ontheball will continue to rambl;e on about sport annd sports journalism, so don't go away!

Thursday, 21 January 2010


A thrilling League Cup semi-final at Villa Park with a two-goal lead being wiped out. Last night's seesaw action between Villa and Blackburn had my mind whirling back to the same stadium, same competition, same stage, 35 years ago. On that occasion it was my club, Chester City, who came from two down to level at 2-2. We had drawn the first leg 2-2 at Sealand Road. At Villa Park we looked down and out, as everyone had predicted, when the home team went 2-0 ahead. Then the late and much lamented Stuart Mason slammed home a Steven Gerrard-style rocket. Soon afterwards Jesse James turned in a loose ball from close range. I was in the press box and turned to the Liverpool Daily Post's veteran writer Horace Yates and said "I don't believe what I'm seeing here." Horace smiled indulgently, knowing that it would end it tears. It did. Ten minutes from time Brian Little snaffled a winner for the Villa. Even then Norman Whitehead went incredibly close to a third goal for us.

That season I'd spent a fair amount of time covering Chester's exploits and I'd been in the dresing room with the players after some fantastic wins. This time I went into the dressing room expecting a hubbub of activity and it was like a morgue. No-one was saying anything. The lads were sat on the benches, heads down, in total silence. The fact that they were devastated showed how close they'd been to Wembley and how realistic their chances of winning actually were. They had played superbly - a Fourth Division team defying all the odds.

A few weeks later the smiles were back when they clinched promotion - the least they deserved.

We had a great team, clever management in Ken Roberts and coach Brian Green, and a sensible board led by local florist Reg Rowlands.

The club today is unrecognisable. League position dire, finances worse, reputation shot to pieces, owners discredited, players unpaid and defecting, fans disillusioned.

Today the supporters' group City Fans United announced an overwhelming vote in favour of an official boycott of home games until the club is back in the hands of reputable locally-based owners. Well done the fans! Enough is enough, a stand is being made, and maybe, one day, we can start building a club which is again worthy of respect.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010


What was conspicuous by its absence throughout Sky's live coverage of Liverpool v Tottenham? Any mention of the parallel drama developing at Villa Park. No infobar, no updates, despite the Villa v Blackburn game in the Carling Cup turning into a 10-goal thriller. So far as the Sky viewers were aware, there was nothing to report.
This of course was the result of the Villa game being shown on the BBC. Sky were not going to publicise the offering of a rival channel, especially when the goals were flying in.
Gives the term "info bar" a whole new meaning really, doesn't it?


Forget the bidding for the players. By far the most interesting outcome of the auction of cricketers for the Indian Premier League is the signing of a deal to stream live coverage of the matches on YouTube.
Last year it was Setanta who carried live pics of the IPL. Their demise has left the door open and it is intriguing that it should be Google, YouTube's owners, who have marched right in. Until now YouTube has been regarded as a cheap, cheerful but not necessarily serious player in the world of moving pictures. That is about to change. And if they can attract an audience for the IPL, how long before they join the contest for horse racing, boxing, and even the Premier League?

Friday, 15 January 2010


Tuned in to Citytalk this morning to see how it sounded having persuaded Ofcom to allow them to play music on an all-speech station and having also shed a number of jobs. Oh dear oh dear. In the 40 minutes I was listening I heard a news bulletin, a sports bulletin, a music track, some celeb gossip (not local), adverts, the identical news bulletin again, identical sports bulletin again, same celeb pap again, couple of tracks - no presenter in sight, and all in all the most repetitive listening experience imaginable.

Better news is that Central Radio in Preston has escaped closure. Its owners UTV have sold the station to Niocom, a company based in Middlewich which also owns Dune FM in Southport. Hopefully it will prosper, if it avoids Citytalk's formula of guranteed switch-off after 15 minutes.

Sunday, 10 January 2010


Condolences to the family and friends of Stan Ocloo, the media officer who died in the Togo football ambush.

Thursday, 7 January 2010


With football matches being called off left, right and centre it is not a good time for freelances.

For me, January is turning into the bleakest of months. No game last Saturday because Setanta don't have rights for the FA Cup. I can't see my game this weekend, Burnley v Stoke, going ahead, thanks to the icy weather. Next Saturday I was down for Blackburn v Fulham but that has been pushed back to the Sunday when Setanta don't have a programme. The week after that it's the FA Cup again, so another blank week. So it looks like Wigan v Everton on the 30th will be my only action.

Fortunately I have other sources of income but the month demonstrates that bad weather and contractual issues, over which a reportEr has no control, count for as much as experience and ability when it comes to making a living.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010


The people who pull the strings behind the media activities of football clubs do not like making headlines themselves. So I doubt if Vicky Kloss, Manchester City's communications chief, is ecstatic to find herself top of the Charles Sale column in the Daily Mail today.

Charlie reports that Vicky was on the receiving end of one of Sir Alex Ferguson's infamous 'hairdrier' tirades after United beat City in September. Fergie was apparently ignited by City's 'Welcome to Manchester' advert featuring Carlos Tevez.

The column adds that Fergie chose the wrong target because the attention-grabbing advert was the inspiration of City's marketing department and nothing to do with Vicky. That is par for the course with Fergie. On the two occasions he shared the hairdrier with me it was not because of anything I had done personally; I just happened to be the next BBC person to come into range after Sir Alex had taken exception to reports by some of my BBC colleagues.

As Charlie also notes, Vicky is a former inspector with the Metropolitan Police so I doubt if she was unduly fazed by the encounter. Beyond perhaps wondering what Fergie would have done if United had actually lost the game!