Andrew Allen is deputy editor at sport.co.uk
In January The DA invited me to write a light-hearted column about my life as a football journalist. Granted it was never going to be particularly glamorous, but that was pretty much the point. The aim was to showcase my daily slog while providing low-brow, sarcastic comment about the industry as a whole. Regrettably, within two months my articles had taken a decidedly downbeat tone and I was comparing Sport.co.uk’s plight to that of Leeds United in 2004…unfortunately, like that Elland Road outfit we have indeed hurtled head first into the abyss…And didn’t even get the plus of being able to sell Alan Smith…
Two weeks ago, after three years of hard graft, the editorial team were informed by our parent company that the site has been sold and will in the coming weeks cease to be under our control.
Much like FIFA, Sport.co.uk has spent five months sailing from shit storm to shit storm. Alas, unlike football’s governing body we didn’t stock enough brown envelopes to ensure safe passage to calmer waters. If only we’d had Sepp Blatter on speed dial we might just have figured out a way of fighting off the pirates. Turns out he’s not a massive fan of English journalists. Who knew?
It goes without saying that we are all disappointed and frustrated, but at the same time ready to embrace new challenges. It has been an absolutely manic ride, but one that the whole team would embark upon again in a heartbeat.
In the last two years alone the team have met and interviewed countless sporting legends, beaten the national press to exclusive news stories, helped over 150 young writers get their work published, had Michael Ballack and Roman Abramovich threaten us with legal action, pissed off Spanish pundit Guillem Balague (a highlight) and even been on the receiving end of a very aggressive email from James Blunt’s sister who didn’t like us referring to the ‘singer-songwriter’ as a ‘professional dullard.’
We’ve stepped out on the hallowed turfs of White Hart Lane and the Emirates (and missed several sitters), lost in the final of a 5-a-side competition due to a defensive blunder by Nigel Winterburn, shared a bar with Phil ‘the Power’ Taylor, listened to Barry Hearn tell jokes which would make messrs Keys and Gray blush, stalked X-Factor rejects (Ben Moss take a bow), been to Battersea Power Station more times than is strictly necessary, chatted with the Cheeky Girls and Jonathan Ross, had a golf lesson from Jose Maria Olazabal, partied at the expense of Richard Branson, confused Linford Christie for Paul Sackey, appeared on BBC 5 Live and visited Paul the Octopus in Germany (RIP big man). From time to time we even managed to watch some live sport…and wrote about it.
All in all, it’s fair to say we’ve had a good time. Given that we had no previous journalism experience I’d even go so far as to say that we made a success of our debut foray into the world of online sports news, even if the company balance sheet says otherwise.
To all those great guys and girl who we have met along the way I raise a glass and say thank you. What happens next is anybody’s guess. Rest assured, at least I have my beloved Arsenal to see me through, and what’s more, it’s pre-season so I can get excited about the prospect of them winning the treble before having to even think about it all going horribly wrong in mid October…
Now, where’s the stationary cupboard? I’m going to have one last hunt for some discreet brown envelopes.
Any Arsenal fans be sure to check out Andrew Allen’s new project here