For many people, living and breathing football would be a dream job, tell us about the reality of working in ‘the beautiful game’?
Getting paid to watch football isn’t as laid back as it might sound – the hours can be very long, there’s a lot of travel and we don’t actually get to take the summer off, but it’s such a fantastic and exciting industry.
It’s intense and very fast-paced, which I love, and one of the great things is that it really challenges you – sports media, especially when it comes to the digital side of it, evolves so quickly that you’re always having to adapt and learn new things.
Growing up, I spent countless hours watching and playing football, and I was also a season ticket holder at Southampton for a long time, so to marry that passion with my job has been wonderful.
What have been some of the most memorable moments you have experienced?
Although it ended in disappointment, the whole experience of the EFL Cup final last season was amazing. It was such a huge occasion for the club, and we were really proud of the work we produced in the build-up to the game, as well as during it. The chance to cover such a big match, at Wembley Stadium, from behind-the-scenes was a great experience too.
I also loved our most recent European campaign, with the opportunity to go to venues like the San Siro, but, for all of that, some of my best memories are still the times when I get to sit down for in-depth interviews with the players. Some of them have really fascinating, and even emotional, stories to tell, and I like the opportunity to show what they’re like as people, and not just players.
Dealing with professional footballers and the media must have its challenges, tell us about the skills you need to secure successful coverage for the club?
Fortunately, we have a really talented media relations team that deals with the external coverage of the club, allowing us to focus on gathering as much quality content for our own channels as possible.
But one of the biggest keys for all of us is relationship building. We’re fortunate that, at Southampton, the players are really good at understanding their media obligations and we have an extremely high-degree of access to them, so we get to know them very well. But it’s important they trust you and know that you won’t put them into difficult situations.
Why did you choose to study at Southampton and do you have any experiences from your time here that you have taken with you throughout your career?
I loved studying British and American politics at A level, and the University had a tremendous reputation for it. I looked at a few others, but I really liked the feel of Southampton, and it made perfect sense for me to make it my first choice. I certainly didn’t regret it!
The degree was really enjoyable and diverse, and the quality of lecturing was extremely high. I also took what I suppose were some of my first steps in journalism by writing a few things for the Wessex Scene, which really helped ignite my interest in newspapers. My wife is a Southampton alumna, and we recently went to a show at the Nuffield Theatre. It was fantastic to walk around and relive a few memories.
Take yourself back to your first day at University – what advice would you give to your younger self?
Probably look up better directions to the Murray Building, I think I got a bit lost!
Without wishing to reel off too many clichés, my three years flew by, so I’d just tell myself to throw myself into it.
Get involved in any clubs or organisations that interest you, take your degree seriously, but also enjoy yourself. It’s a cool time of your life.
Everyone I met there was so friendly and helpful as well, and I know it’s not the British thing to do, but don’t be afraid of going up and striking up a conversation with people.
As you prepare for another campaign with Saints, what are you most looking forward to and how do you rate their chances this coming season?
For us in the media team, the big challenge is finding what we can do that’s new and innovative. Hopefully we’ll have some exciting and interesting content to show people in the coming months.
It’s been such a good couple of years for the club, and they’ve become so established in the top half of the Premier League, that the focus now is really on challenging for Europe and some silverware.
I’d dearly love another Wembley final – with a different result – and it does feel like a place where plenty of success still lies ahead.
If you have a story you would like to share with fellow alumni, please email Rachael Tyler, Communications Officer at R.E.Tyler@southampton.ac.uk
All pictures courtesy of Matt Watson/Southampton FC