GREG KEANE graduated with a 2.1 in journalism and media from Coventry University last June. He has turned a specialist interest into a small niche in journalism, non-league football.
It’s pointless to send away your CV in pursuit of that first job without any kind of meaningful credential except a degree in journalism.Despite being warned on countless occasions that work will not simply come to you on the back of a university course, I arrogantly – as I am sure is the case for many of my peers – did not take much heed of the advice.
I applied for trainee jobs advertised on sites such as this one, thinking – almost without doubt – that my 2:1 in journalism and media earned in June this year was easily enough to merit me at least an interview.
Thankfully, reality set in soon enough after early knock-backs. I realised that only with proactivity would I make a name for myself.
An article in which I described my home town football club Luton Town as ‘the most exciting club in England’ generated a large amount of debate across many football forums, as fans struggled to work out whether the title was a question, or in fact a statement.
I had sent the article to the presenter of BBC London’s Non-League Football Show and pitched an idea to her about regularly updating fans on the Hatters’ often turbulent existence throughout the upcoming football league (or non-league as is the case) campaign.
She loved the idea and published the article although I was inaccurately described as ‘a Luton Town fan blogger’ (a description which is wrong on two counts: I was/am neither a blogger of Luton Town, nor a fan! Like many sports writers, I too won’t disclose the identity of the club I support. It isn’t one of the big four by the way).
The piece got significant interest and found its way being discussed on a number of football forums and I even received praise from Luton Town chairman and BBC Midlands Today presenter Nick Owen, via email.
I now regularity contribute features for the BBC London pages on a variety of non-league sides, for example. (Examples of my work here).
After this, I was asked to produce features for the site www.nonleaguefootballlive.com on a freelance basis. This has provided a tremendous platform on which to make a name for myself in a community which may be large, but lacking in many alternative avenues of information and reports from their clubs.
I have since become ‘chief reporter’ for the site and my articles stimulate much debate on the site’s own lively forum as well as clubs’ own message boards.
An article I wrote documenting the plight of Wrexham FC and their supporters seemed also to strike a chord with the Guardian’s David Conn who praised my article – recently he wrote a piece highlighting the trouble Wrexham supporters had trying to protect their ground.
Non League Football Live also has plans to launch a magazine in the coming weeks which they have asked me to play a big part in it.
But I haven’t confined myself to reporting: I have taken up a role as press secretary for the famous Corinthian Casuals in South London/Surrey and that position guarantees that my reports get published in around 14 ‘thisislocallondon’ newspapers and their online sites and one national, the Non-League Paper, which comes out every Sunday across the UK. Casuals are a club steeped with history so there is plenty of scope there to carve out a story.
And radio too: after a couple months of one day a week work experience at Mercia Radio in Coventry, my efforts paid off when they signed a deal to commentate on Coventry City matches.
I now do some paid assistant producing on the Tom Ross ‘Goalzone’ show. I control the studio and the commentator throughout a 3-4 hour show.
It is frantic work but it is enjoyable and certainly gets the adrenaline running. I also provide Mercia with a regular Sky Blues blog – another home for my work.
Unexpectedly, I foresee my future in sports reporting now, especially after finding a niche for myself in non-league football. It may not be glamorous or particularly exciting for many, but I enjoy it and hope that in the not too distant future, there will be a permanent job offer.