THE car park steward at Oxford United’s Kassam Stadium just wasn’t having it.
“Can you just tell me if there’s anywhere for the press to park?”
“Well you can’t park here.”
“I’m a local radio journalist from Macclesfield.”
“No you’re not.”
“I’ve got my radio kit in the boot. Do you want me to get it out and show you?”
Never mind. I often can’t believe I’m a sports journalist either. But it’s more or less the only proper job I’ve ever had.
Oh sure, I did various odd holiday jobs which I was a student – which included, hilariously, cleaning at a nuclear power station. Only the offices, though, not the reactors. (The temp agency who gave me that job also once offered me £7 a hour to clean a prison on Christmas Day, which makes me wonder now if they were trying to tell me something. I said no.)
And I also spent the first three months after I graduated putting my degree to full use by working in a call centre.
But really, I only ever wanted to be a journalist. More specifically, I only ever wanted to be a sports journalist. And for most of the last decade, that’s what I’ve done – covering cricket, rugby (league and union), boxing, tennis, motorsport, golf and squash, but mainly covering football.
I’ve watched a lot of football in the course of doing my job during the Noughties, from major international matches to North West Counties League fixtures. I’m pretty sure I’m the only journalist ever to have watched both Hartlepool reserves and Deportivo La Coruna live in the same day. (For the record, one of those sides was playing against Macclesfield reserves at the Moss Rose, the other was facing Manchester United in a Champions League match at Old Trafford. If you can’t figure out who was where, you really shouldn’t be reading this blog.)
And so to me, it seems the best way to look back over the decade as it draws to a close. (I’ll leave the Bush/Blair/Saddam/Bin Laden/Brown/Obama stuff to people with half-decent political analysis skills, if you don’t mind.) Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll go through the Noughties, one year at a time, picking out a match that was memorable to me, and explaining why.
It may not be a classic match in the conventional sense (in fact, I’ll warn you now that two of them are goalless draws), but in each case, it will be a game that has stuck with me for a particular reason. Those reasons might tell you more about me than they do about the games, but that’s the risk of writing a blog.
And before you ask: Yes, I did nick the idea from Fever Pitch.