"Whose Game Is It Anyway"
We have just published the latest podcast which is available on the website and all the streaming providers and this month i am joined by the doyen of journalists Michael Calvin who during a career spanning 4 decades has held "Chief Sportswriter" positions at the "Daily Telegraph" "The Times" "Mail on Sunday" and at present with "The Sunday Mirror".
In terms of industry recognition Michael has twice been "Sportswriter Of The Year" twice been "Sports Reporter Of The Year" as an author he won the "Sports Book " of the year award two years in succession something that hasn't been done before,
He has a new book out now called "Whose Game is It Anyway" and that is the feature for this months
The book is described as part memoir part manifesto and recounts 40 plus years of observation, anecdotes and opinion and put simply is one of those books you will pick up and could read in one sitting almost we start with a young hopeful who is bombarding his local newspaper with copy of football match reports in the hope of being recognised and this lets remember is a time when he would be writing on a typewriter putting completed articles in an envelope attaching a stamp and putting in a post box no email, computer or word processor.
His break did come early as well he was mid "A Level" when he made what to his teachers at least was not a good decision and was told he was "Ungrateful" and "Wouldn't amount to much" as he decided to leave school for a position as a junior reporter on the "Watford Observer" needless to say when the school years later invited him back he suddenly has a "full diary"
His love of football came from in the early days going to watch Workington with his dad and graduating to Watford where he became a ball boy, a dream of every pre-teen back in the day.
Over the course of the podcast we travel back to reminisce on events including the Moscow Olympics in 1980 MC was the youngest member of the press corps who was if anything well prepared for a trip behind the iron curtain as he took a plug and mars bars just in case on the food front there was little to worry about as it appeared to be caviar and Georgian champagne every day, he was also present in 88 when the news broke in Seoul that Ben Johnson had tested positive it wasn't at any normal hour either
it was about 3am in the morning you wonder if they thought that if they released the news when everyone was asleep no one would notice.
Politics should not interfere with sport and sport should impact politics said Vladimir Putin not sure when he said this but during the podcast there were plenty of occasions when politics did venture into the sporting arena pretty much anytime the old "GDR" was mentioned including the time a penalty awarded to stasi club "Dynamo Berlin" was so outrageously offside the authorities removed it from the tv highlights later that evening.
Continuing with the political theme those of you who remember early 80's Poland will remember the name of Lech Walesa and the "Solidarity" movement i remember at the time in school some of the senior kids wearing "Solidarity" badges obviously with little idea of who and what it was all about.
At that time no journalists were allowed into Poland apart from that is "Sports Journalists" who were in Warsaw for an England U21 ,eating with Poland what followed when they arrived was scenario classic cold war, covert messages setting up clandestine meetings with the "Solidarity" activists in of all places the confessional boxes of the St John's catholic cathedral, now
i'm not sure about you but if i were a member of the watching authorities it might have looked slightly suspicious that journalists were making their way to confess sins as opposed to heading to a bar.
That gives you a bit of a taste of this months podcast there are many more anecdotes and stories and the book is available to buy now.
One more thing before we move on did you know the at Luther Blisset's kit was originally sponsored by Elton John's mum no, neither did i .
Another personal memoir we featured recently was George Sephton's book "The Voice Of Anfield"
Any football fan who has either visited Anfield or watched a live game from Anfield will instantly
recognise George's voice he's been on the PA for 5 decades since the day he sat listening to his predecessor whilst on the terraces and thought "I could do a better job than this bloke" so he did that thing of the time , wrote a letter with a pen addressed it put a stamp on it and sent it in one meeting later and he was installed all they had to do was tell the guy currently doing it he wasn't needed anymore, after all this was the man who as Tommy Smith was about to take a penalty came over the mic to tell the owner of a car to move it as it was illegally parked.
This was something by the way that used to happen at many grounds back in the 70's and 80's when people realised that the guy on the PA would read anything out that someone from the club gave them
there have been many recorded tales of fans phoning up the club to get the PA man to call out for
Bill Smith or whoever to tell him "His wife is waiting for him at the exit" or could the owner of registration number "FU2" please move it, it took clubs a while to work out what was going on.
Back to George's book you can hear him talking about his 5 decades at Anfield in the podcast along with "Tom Whitworth" who is talking about football in the 90's in his book "Where The Seagulls Followed the Trawler".
All the podcasts can be found on the website just click the menu at the top of the page hope you enjoy this months edition and feel free get in touch if you have any comments to make.