WHAT’S the best job for a failed sportsman?
How about a role as a coach, a career in health or fitness or maybe in sports administration?
Or how about sports journalism?
Admittedly, there are far fewer sporting scribes than there are professional sportsmen, but there’s no doubt that for those who fail to earn a living on the sporting stage, turning to the world of journalism is a serious option.
And the stronger your sporting grounding, the more confident you’ll feel about spending your working life writing about your passion.
For me that obviously means writing about rugby league and following Huddersfield Giants. To be honest, it’s a dream job.
Having been raised in Batley, the 13-a-side code is in your blood. As a result, I did play the game – pretty badly – until the age of 16 alongside the likes of former Great Britain prop Roy Powell, who sadly died of a massive heart attack a decade ago.
But by that stage, it was obvious I wasn’t cut out to be a professional. It was far too physically and mentally demanding for an average sportsman like myself, and I respect and admire all those who play the game at open-age level, whether professional or amateur.
But having discovered I was too soft to pursue a playing career, I wanted to take a sporting path in my career.
With that in mind, I managed to get on a BA (Hons) Sport, Recreation and Exercise Physiology course at Madeley College of PE, which is now part of North Staffordshire University.
During that time I gained a pretty in-depth knowledge of what it takes to be a professional sportsman, learning about training techniques, the science behind making individuals perform better, the value of good nutrition and lifestyle and the basic cure and prevention of sporting injuries. As a result, if a club physio now explains a player’s injury I usually understand them.
With these skills in the tank, I prepared to hit the working world.
Within a couple of months, the Batley News and Dewsbury Reporter were looking for a general news reporter who could double up as a rugby league writer covering Batley Bulldogs and Dewsbury Rams.
I loved my time working for the Reporter, and it was the perfect place to cut your journalistic teeth.
But in 1995, I secured a move from the world of weekly newspapers to the cut and thrust of a daily in Huddersfield, covering the town’s famous rugby league team.
At the time, the men in claret and gold were a mid-table team in the old Second Division.
But it was only a matter of time before Huddersfield were back among the sporting elite with much of the credit for this going to the chairman called Ken Davy.
At first, times were tough when the men in the claret and gold were promoted into Super League.
Finishing bottom of the competition for several years on the trot made writing about the side on a daily basis almost as tough as being out there on the field itself.
But surviving those dark days has made the past decade even more of a pleasure.
Two Challenge Cup finals at Wembley and Twickenham, several memorable Super League play-offs triumphs, the annual trip to Perpignan for the Catalan Dragons away game and even a trip to Florida, USA, to see the Giants play in the Sunshine State Challenge in 2001 have been among the highlights of being lucky enough to follow the rise and rise of the town’s rugby league club.
Yes, it’s not a bad life. In fact, I’d recommend it to anyone.