Standing in a grubby kitchen in Morden speaking to a South African hippie you’ve never met before is not usually the setting for a life lesson, but I guess beggars can’t be choosers. “So what do you do?” he said, through his dreadlocks and a beaming grin. “Well, I want to be a writer but it’s tough finding work.” Despite passing through a intensive Newspaper Journalism course a month earlier, here I was living with four different nationalities scraping by with £75 a week rent becoming an ever increasingly roadblock to my ambitions. I was down to my last few hundred pounds, and even Lidl had turned my application down; to say the outlook was bleak is an understatement. With the unerring confidence of a man munching cornflakes thousands of miles from home, he replied in flash; “Nah, rubbish mate – you ARE a writer, just between jobs. Right, I’m off to the office. Good luck!”
And off into the murky midnight darkness he went. I never did catch his name, but one day I will buy him a pint, because his words have stuck in my mind ever since.
Here is a collection of my published articles to date, with a brief description of the outlet for each one. They date back to a couple of weeks after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil ended, and at a conservative estimate total around a quarter of a million words. I hope you enjoy them!
These Football Times
The Home of Long Form Storytelling. A magnificent site run by the incomparable Omar Saleem, TFT is the platform that suits my natural style best by promoting in depth features on all aspects of football from nostalgia to youth development. I stumbled across it initially by following Matt Gault – nominated for FSF Blogger of the Year 2015 – and his work, leading me to meet like minds. Some wonderful writers call this site their home, and I have been lucky to have rubbed shoulders with them.
TFTLongform.com has been launched to showcase the best articles over 4,000 words, and some of my favourite articles have been moved to his new site. The new design is original and slick – check it out.
Jimmy Hogan: England’s Greatest Footballing Pioneer
Part of The Masterminds Series looking at the most revolutionary managers in the history of the game, the story of the most under appreciated but visionary coach from England is incredible.
The Methodical, Scientific Genius of Valeriy Lobanovskiy
Another part of The Masterminds, Lobanovskyi’s tale is truly unique. With original interviews from Ukrainian fans past and present, I tried to go for a different perspective on a story that has been told before in different ways.
Sir Alex Ferguson: The Greatest Winner in Britain
This was always going to be a huge task to take on the most recognisable figure of the last thirty years in English football, but thanks to the wonderfully generous help of Graham Hunter I was able to work in some original insight into the mind of the man himself. His United years would have been too easy to focus on, so I dug deeper into the makings of the man in Scotland.
Duncan Edwards: The Original, Greatest Boy Wonder
In an era of direct physical play, it must have been a pure joy and privilege to have watched this man grace any pitch. His tale, along with that of his teammates, is the most heart-wrenching tragedy to have befallen Manchester United, and I hope I have done his memory justice. His reputation speaks for itself; the most beautiful flower of Manchester, gone but never forgotten.
The finest website out there covering the Post Soviet space. In what is probably very rare in the online writing world, I have actually had the pleasure of meeting a colleague in person, and none other than the editor himself, Manu Veth. He is the type that instantly commands respect, and has the most insane amount of knowledge, not to mention a healthy dose of patience and foresight to keep the site fresh.
Pavlyuchenko’s Last Stand
Ever wonder what happened to Spurs striker Roman Pavlyuchenko? Wonder no more, as I write about the latest (and possibly the last) stage in his career.
Mbark Boussoufa: The Return of the Prodigal Son
One of the most talented but temperamental players to have played in Russia in recent years, Boussoufa was once so highly rated that Johan Cruyff defended him when Ajax let him join Chelsea as a youngster. Now in the twilight of his career, he’s running up of options to restore his character, and I assess his latest move to Belgium.
Russian Football News
It has been a pleasure to be a part of the team here because I have met a number of extremely knowledgeable writers online who have helped me educate myself on the Russian game. I have even managed to meet Ilya Sokolov for a Lokomotiv game, and now that Danny Armstrong has moved to Moscow I should add another face to the names on the site. A very special mention must go to Toke Theilade, who has given a phenomenal boost to the entire fortunes of the site, virtually doubling the followers and the number of contributing writers.
Season Preview 2015/2016: CSKA Moscow