I’M sure there aren’t too many ways in which I can outdo pop star Tinie Tempah.
But covering Huddersfield Town for the Examiner means I’ve visited both Southampton and Scunthorpe (check out his No1 single Pass Out if you don’t know where I’m coming from) – and a lot more places besides.
This season I’ve been to London five times, the West Country four and Carlisle three – and Saturday’s big League I promotion play-off will be my second visit to Bournemouth in three months!
There have also been trips to Colchester and Brighton, but travelling is all part of the job and I’m lucky to get paid for doing something I enjoy, although there’s still plenty of graft to go with the ‘glamour’.
People think I go to a game for 90 minutes on a Saturday afternoon or Tuesday night, and I’m done, but there’s far more to it than that.
I always aim to get to the ground that length of time before kick-off and carrying out interviews means I’m there for a good hour after the final whistle.
And while most folk are watching Britain’s Got Talent, I’ll be at the wheel, on a train, or sitting in front of a computer screen and keyboard.
The introduction of our Final Whistle supplement on Mondays and the extra demands of the internet means I produce more words than ever – and it takes an average of four hours per match to produce the goods.
It’s a far cry from when I first started out and coverage wasn’t nearly so comprehensive.
After studying history and politics at Leeds University, my first job was on a weekly paper, the Keighley News, which provided a great grounding.
I was a news reporter originally – court cases, inquests and interviews on all manner of subjects – but when one of the two sports correspondents retired, I started helping out and eventually the transfer became permanent.
I covered Keighley Rugby League Club (no Cougars suffix in those days), which was eye-opening to say the least, before moving to the Examiner in 1989.
As a childhood Town fan – I grew up in Almondbury – I always harboured ambitions to cover the club, but I had to bide my time, reporting on cricket, rugby union and Emley Football Club while working as ‘second’ man to Mel Booth.
I well remember the first Town game I reported on – a 1-1 Tuesday night draw at Bristol City late in the 1989-90 season – not just as it was a milestone for me but because I was the only person from Huddersfield in the Ashton Gate press box!
These days Town get far more widespread coverage, and I’m good mates with Radio Leeds pair Paul Ogden and Kieran O’Regan, with whom I often travel to matches, as well as Dave Sykes, Dan Nelson and Luke Flacks, who work on the communications side for the football club.
I became the main Town writer five years ago, when Mel was promoted to sports editor, and after five seasons of League I, I’m as desperate as the manager, players and fans to taste life back in the Championship.
Come on Town!