Footballer looks to a future in the press box

ANTON RIPPON on how a footballer is working hard off the pitch for a possible new job in print

Charles Buchan, Danny Blanchflower Len Shackleton, Jimmy McIroy – just four former professional footballers who went on to carve out long careers as sports journalists.

Richard Wood: listening to the questions now, as well as the answers
Richard Wood: listening to the questions now, as well as the answers

They were proper journalists, too, who wrote their own copy. No ghostwriters for them.

Now another player, not quite so distinguished as that legendary quartet when it comes to achievements on the field, has expressed his hopes that he will one day be writing match reports instead of appearing in them.

In his weekly column for The Star in Sheffield, Rotherham United defender Richard Wood has told of his ambition of a full-time career in sports journalism.

Wood, a veteran of more than 300 League games in a career that has taken in Sheffield Wednesday, Coventry City, Charlton Athletic and Rotherham (for whom he scored his first goal last month) is studying for a degree in sports journalism and PR through a distance learning degree which is run by the Professional Footballers’ Association in conjunction with Staffordshire University.

In a recent column for The Star, Wood said footballers need a “Plan B” given the relatively short career-span offered by the sport.

He wrote: “All players need to realise that their football career will come to an end at some point, and that is why I decided to enrol on a university degree last year in sports journalism and PR … It’s been a great experience so far and I’ve got to see how the media works around football, which, as a professional footballer, you don’t really take notice of.

“When I’m listening to footballers being interviewed, I’m now taking notice of the questions asked rather than the answers. I’ve just completed work experience with the media team at Rotherham United, where I got to write for the matchday programme and club website among other tasks I undertook.

“The weekly column in The Star is another opportunity that arose as a result of me undertaking this degree. I’m enjoying airing my opinions and views on various topics in football and also sharing stories and anecdotes from my career.

“I would love to stay in the game once I retire, be that as a coach, media pundit or journalist, but the journalism degree might open other avenues for me such as qualifying to be a teacher.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what route this course will lead me down, but at the moment, though, I just want to concentrate fully on my playing career while balancing that with my degree work and graduating.”