By Janine Self
The West Midlands is known as a managerial merry-go-round in football terms, but this autumn it has been the turn of journalists and media officers to make the transfer news.
West Bromwich Albion and Birmingham City’s press offices have both pilfered respected local reporters while Aston Villa are looking for a replacement for their Everton-bound head of media, Brian Doogan.
In recent weeks the former Wolverhampton Express and Star columnist Martin Swain has become media director at West Brom, followed by Chris Lepkowski, who left the Birmingham Post and Mail after 13 years to take over the newly-created head of media and content role.
Birmingham have announced Colin Tattum as new head of media and communications, replacing Andy Walker, who has joined the Football Association as senior communications manager for England.
Walker, yet another Trinity Mirror old boy, had been at Birmingham for four years. Replacement Tattum has covered the club for 27 years and was chief sports reporter of the Mail.
Tattum joined the paper as a teenager on work experience and never left. He said: “I was honoured and privileged to be fortunate enough to cover the club’s fortunes for the Birmingham Mail for so long.
“And the kind messages I received on my departure were overwhelming and humbling. They will stay with me forever.
“Now I am excited by this new challenge and I am looking forward to working with some very talented and committed people who have Birmingham City at heart.”
Trinity Mirror’s Birmingham operation has been badly hit with the latest round of job cuts claiming sports editor Ken Montgomery after 42 years of service.
Brian Halford’s 17-year stint ended with the decision to drop dedicated Warwickshire cricket coverage while the role of rugby correspondent was also made redundant.
Brian Dick has made the move from rugby and will now report on Birmingham City. He has been at the paper since 2003 and joked: “And just in case anyone thinks I’d make a good press officer I’d like to say ‘I’ll make a statement as soon as there’s anything to say’.”
Mail stalwart Bill Howell takes over the Albion beat and is replaced as Wolves correspondent by Paul Suart, who has joined from the news desk.
Walker was a multi-media journalist at Trinity Mirror before joining City as PR and social media officer, working his way up to head of media and communications.
He was head-hunted by the FA, who recognised the job he had done at a club which suffered relegation and many lurid headlines because of the money-laundering scandal involving owner Carson Yeung.
Walker said: “I am delighted to be starting the next chapter of my career with The FA and I relish the opportunity to further enhance England’s public relations ahead of what will be an exciting build up to UEFA Euro 2016 and beyond.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Birmingham City and the experience I have gained. It has recently been a testing period for the football club and I’d like to thank all my colleagues at Birmingham for their continued hard work and support they have shown me over the years.”
Doogan’s imminent departure was announced last week by Everton. The former Daily Express and Sunday Times journalist was appointed as Villa’s head of media by Martin O’Neill in 2009.
Doogan, who ghosted Joe Calzaghe’s biography, was short-listed for the the SJA’s Specialist Correspondent prize at the SJA British Sports Journalism Awards in 2007.
- Voting is open for all SJA members to choose their Sportsman, Sportswoman and Team of the Year. Only SJA members are eligible to vote. Voting closes on Nov 28
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- Christian Radnedge: I’m voting for Greg Rutherford
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- Norman Giller: McIlroy and Pavey get my votes
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UPCOMING SJA EVENTS
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