June 9th 2006. A seven year old me sits watching Germany vs Costa Rica at the 2006 World Cup. Six minutes in, Philipp Lahm scores an absolute screamer to set up a 4-2 win for his team. It’s not only the opening game of the World Cup, but it’s the first ever football game I watch, and it couldn’t have been a much better one. From that moment on, I was hooked and fell in love with the beautiful game.
It’s been a long journey since then, and now I would love more than anything to write and report about football as career. To get paid every week for doing something I love would be a dream come true. Here’s what’s happened in the past nine years in three different categories.
As aforementioned, the 2006 World Cup was when I first watched football on TV. I tried to catch every game at the tournament and persuaded my parents to let me stay up to watch the final when it went all the way to penalties. Match of the Day soon became my favourite ever TV programme, and is still something I never miss each weekend during the season.
Whenever there’s any kind of football on TV, I always want to watch it. Whether that be Premier League on Non-League, in fact I’m watching England vs Slovenia as I write. As well as writing about football, I’d also love to present and broadcast and do the job of Gary Linekar and Dan Walker every week.
But as much as watching at home is great, nothing beats being in a stadium watching the action unfold right in front of your eyes. Despite being a Reading fan, the first ground I ever went to was St. Mary’s to watch Southampton vs Burnley, with a young Gareth Bale playing for the Saints. The match finished 0-0, but I still loved the experience.
It’s an experience that you can’t beat and an experience that is still incredible wherever and whenever I watch football live. I’ve been part of a 90,000 crowd at Wembley and and one of just 100 at a Newport I.O.W, but the feeling you get is the same. The joy felt by those under the arch is matched by those sitting on broken seats in the Wessex League when a goal goes in and I celebrated the same way at each stadium. That’s why you can’t beat football. It brings people together and always provides entertainment.
As soon as I had caught the football bug, I wanted to get involved. From the age of eight to fifteen, I played for my local team, with a fair bit of success. I wasn’t much good mind – two ‘most improved player’ awards can tell you that (although I did win manager’s player once). But the chance to have the ball at your feet every week I loved, and the feeling you get when you score a goal is even better than when you witness your heroes score one.
Many lunchtimes at school have been spent kicking a ball about, as well as PE lessons and after-school clubs. It’s hard to get away from it when your friends are just as interested as you. Football is the most played sport in the world and it’s not hard to see why. You don’t even really need a proper ball, whilst the classic phrase ‘jumpers for goalposts’ remains very true. Whether it’s 20 vs 20 on the school field or a 5 a-side game at the sports centre, the enjoyment is there.
Writing About Football
Once I realised that I was never going to play football for a living, I knew I wanted something to do with the sport. A couple of years ago, some advice from my English teacher led me to journalism. It’s one of the best pieces of advice I have ever been given. I cannot envisage myself doing anything else in the future, and the thought of travelling up and down the country, and perhaps around the world, to report on football would be incredible. That’s why I write this blog. But It’s Football Not Soccer wasn’t the first.
The first ever football journalism thing I did was a blog called ‘Fanz Football’ in early 2013 – I thought it sounded cool. I wrote seven posts before stopping, but it confirmed to me that this was my future career. If you want to read Fanz Football, and relive the big news of the 2012/13 season you can do so here.
Around the same time, I started writing for Touchline Talk, where I really improved my skills, and learned the techniques that I use today. The guys gave me so much support and confidence in my writing, and I would thoroughly recommend any aspiring journalists to try and get on the site. It’s a gruelling fixed schedule (I was writing about eight articles a week, some of which were top fives or tens), but it’s definitely worth it. You get experience writing classic news stories as well as opinion pieces and match previews. I stopped after just over a year of writing for them in May 2014 for my mocks, and you can read all of my articles here. While your there, as I said go ahead and apply to write for them.
During that time writing for Touchline Talk, I decided to have a go at starting a blog again. That’s right this one. At first I thought I’d get to a few posts again before giving it up, but incredibly this is post 230 after over 1 and a half years, which I would never have imagined. I’m always coming up with ideas on what to write about, and the fun never stops.
But I wanted to make this blog for all football fans but at the same time be able to share my views and write about my own team, Reading, who, as a Championship side, were never going to get loads of coverage on It’s Football Not Soccer. First I thought about creating a whole new and separate blog, but realised that it would probably be too much work. So when the opportunity to write for The Tilehurst End, the largest Royals fansite, came up in November 2014, I wasn’t going to turn it down. During the season, I write Ref-Watch, profiling the official for each game, whilst during the current off-season I am writing various opinion pieces, which probably are of no interest to you unless you support Reading. If you do want to read my work on TTE, just click here.
Finally I come to The Daily Heckle, which I wrote a post on last month. Within a month of working for them, I am now Sports Expert and get to write about stuff I don’t usually write about. Plus, I get paid, which helps gain some money during this long summer I have ahead of me. I won’t go into too much detail, as you can read the linked post above, whilst you can see my posts on The Daily Heckle here.
So that brings me to now, June 2014. Nine years and five days after that Lahm goal hit the back of the net. I’ve decided to do this post not only to tell you about my life of football, but because there a couple of firsts coming up on this blog. In the next few days I hope to record my first ever pod-cast, which you will be able to listen to on Spreaker or on YouTube. Meanwhile, I have arranged my first ever interview, which I am incredibly excited about and see as the next step in the history of this blog. I will be chatting to Reading FC Women’s star Lauren Bruton, talking about all things from the women’s game to what Fran Kirby is like to play with.
But all this wouldn’t be possible without the support of you. It still surprises me whenever I look at how many people read my blog, and it just puts a smile on my face as you guys are helping me in my career path. If you have read all 229 of my previous posts or just one, thank you. If you have read through this entire, reminiscent post, then I salute you, and hopefully you too are excited about the development of this blog.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you. Writing this post has confirmed one thing. I love football, which really is the beautiful game.