BBC BLOGS - Sport Editors
« Previous | Main | Next »

A new approach to football columns

Howard Nurse | 12:20 UK time, Wednesday, 24 September 2008

So we kind of got the feeling that many of you found columns by footballers a bit dull.

When I use the word column, in many cases they were "ghosted" columns - that is to say one of our journalists conducts an interview and then writes up what was said into an article.

We always made it clear this was the case, with the "ghost" journalist receiving a credit at the foot of the piece. And all of the footballer's words were original, just perhaps arranged in a slightly different way so they made more sense.

That didn't always meet with your approval, so it was why we launched our first blog written by a real-life footballer!

Over the past seven or eight years, it's been my job to find football columnists - and I'd like to think we came up with a few decent names and people who had things to say.

The main football columnists have been James Beattie, Neil Warnock (my personal favourite), Jason Roberts, Kevin Nolan, Owen Hargreaves, Micah Richards and Ian Holloway.

While we had many positive comments from readers, we also received feedback from quite a lot of you requesting more genuine insight and more personal reflection from such columns.

We listened and have now gone down a totally different avenue by finding our own football blogger.

How did we do it? Well, via former Sheffield Wednesday defender Lawrie Madden who runs a sports journalism course at Staffordshire University. He's the senior lecturer at the university and helped me find a budding blogger who not only plays professional football but is also considering a future career in the media when he hangs up his boots.

And so we arrived at Gavin Strachan.

Gavin Strachan

Gavin plays for Notts County in League Two. He's been out injured for a while, but came on at Exeter City on Saturday for the closing stages of the game.

He played a full 90 minutes in a behind-closed doors friendly against Nottingham Forest on Tuesday and is now fit and raring to go.

I met Gavin recently and it quickly became apparent that he's genuinely excited about all of this. He's dead keen and admits he's a novice, a trainee writer I suppose - but he couldn't wait to get started.

I'm sure he'd be grateful for feedback from you and as the weeks clock by, I am confident that his blogs will give help us all gain a much greater understanding of exactly what's it like to be a footballer.

Not a big-time Charlie. Just a down-to-earth footballer who is proud of his job and who simply loves playing.



  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    What about the Annan captain's offerings? Why doesn't he get a posh blog - he's good, you know...

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    Wow, One out five comments allowed through so far!! People seem to love to get hold of an editor if they can.

    The initial response seemed to be really positive around the new Strachan blog and I thought it felt different and eminently readable already. Definitely potential for a career for Mr Strachan Jnr.

    The editor above has made an honest admission that people thought the old footballers blogs a bit dull, a major understatement but at least it proves they are listening.

    Not sure this entry would have appeared though if the Strachan blog had been panned, smells a bit like Mr Nurse is fishing for compliments after some success, but I suppose we all do that!!

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi all, just to address the above, we haven't rejected any comments because they were critical of the article or Howard.
    Actually, we haven't had any comments criticial of the article or Howard.

    The first two comments were off-topic nonsense, just complete gibberish. Possibly from an internet robot.

    The second two comments were asking why the comments had been blocked but made no mention of the actual article.

    So, thanks, jamminben13, for responding to something Howard has written about.

    And, honestly, what do you guys think about the Strachan blog in relation to our previous columns? What other 'interactive' features would you like to see on the football pages?

  • Comment number 8.

    I hadn't read a "blog" before yesterday. At least I don't think I have as I don't actually know what "blog" means. It appears to be an individual's opinion on whatever subject. I had obviously heard the expression but hadn't really bothered as it held no importance. I had seen a recommendation on a sports web site (possibly the BBC) for "Gavin Strachan's blog"and thought I should read it.
    I simply can't believe how such a boring item receives such publicity and interest. Frankly, if people find this of interest then they must lead exceedingly boring lives themselves. If I began reading a book as dull as this I would put it down and get another book.
    I once saw a (part) programme of "Big Brother" and couldn't believe that people actually find such rubbish interesting. This "Gavin Strachan blog" is similar dross. Apparently this is one of the better "blogs" so the others must really be abysmal.

    From this day forth I shall ignore all "blogs" and reflect on how rather pathetic our society has become.

  • Comment number 9.

    JCD Big bear,

    An astonishingly arrogant entry,

    Do you fail to see the irony that you are in effect blogging yourself and therefore by inference expecting others to read your comments, while, at the same time debasing other peoples work?

    For your information a blog is somebody's opinion and that is all. It is not highfalutin journalism and nor does it try to be. We happily live in an era where many more people can have an opinion and express that opinion to provoke debate and understanding. I suggest that perhaps you have never listened to somebody else's point of view before and reading the blog gave you a bit of a shock for that reason.

  • Comment number 10.

    Is my comment being moderated or simply not coming through?

  • Comment number 11.

    Why are my little sentences registering, but what I actually want to say, is simply clicking and not registering. Please enlighten me.

  • Comment number 12.

    JCDBigBear - are you even a football fan? If you were then you would understand why Gavins blog is interesting. If you weren't, why are you even on this website?

    I agree that it was no fault of the footballers themselves that their blogs were so dull, it just doesn't work with Premiership players. Anything even remotely controversial would be all over the papers the next day (and most propably totally mis-quoted and sensationalised). This new blog by Gavin should make a much more interesting read for genuine football fans.

  • Comment number 13.

    I think this is a decent idea. While I found Strachan's first piece a little dull I think this is to be expected for the 'intro' column and I certainly wont be judging him for a while until he has the chance to get a few more out. Writing blogs is not easy, it takes a fair bit of skill and not everyone has it - however Gavin's obviously got the right attitude so best of luck to him!

  • Comment number 14.

    It's probably the first time ive actually read a blog on the bbc sports website and to be honest I was pleasantly surprised by Gavin's refreshing account. It has been assumed by the majority of the population that all footballers have it easy. However, at the end of the day the majority have to live normal lives and have to accomodate for the future. I hope Gavin will continue to bring a refreshing and honest account of a footballer's life. I look foward to his next blog.

  • Comment number 15.

    I think the idea of a 'real-life footballer' blog is great........but what is real-life??
    I play Sunday League and write the more-than-slightly 'tongue-in-cheek' match reports on the clubs site. I also include any recent goings-on in and around the club. Surely this is closer to real-life than the blog of a proffesional league player.
    Maybe it's worth looking more at grass-roots players and clubs than those higher up the food chain.

  • Comment number 16.

    FAO Sir Bobby Dangles (CCFC Social Events Officer)

    As a social events officer it seems as if you have spectacularly failed at this particular interactive social event.

  • Comment number 17.

    My comment concerns the Sheffield/Tevez affaire. I find that the attitude of Sheffield United is definitely 'big girl's blouse' material.
    They have nobody to blame except themselves. Mr. Warnock throwing his toys out of the pram and crying like a baby only makes this situation more ridiculous.
    During the best part of the season their destiny was in their own hands. With five games to go they beat West Ham 3-0, so the Tevez situation should never have been an issue. The reason they were relegated by goal difference (1) is because they were unable to beat Wigan at home in the last game of the season.
    Instead of players, (who are reportedly looking to claim some kind of compensation)blaming Carlos Tevez, they should be asking themselves why they were unable to beat an ordinary Wigan side at home.
    The reason they were relegated was because of poor play and a manager who left a lot to be desired. If Mr. Warnock had put the same effort into preparing his team as he did verbally abusing, intimidating, and bullying the fourth official, perhaps Sheffield United would still be enjoying the benefits of playing in the Premiership. The attitude of the Sheffield Chairman, Mr. Warnock, and the players is shameful.
    The truth is that they were all to blame, and the authors of their own misfortune.

  • Comment number 18.

    I like the idea of having a 'loose' player writing for the beeb and look forward to what Gavin comes up with, i think the likes of Micah Richards and Owen Hargreaves, while perfectly reasonable were a little too tame - they of course had to be, their hands were tied - however i always liked Ian Holloway's blog, especially as i was living in leicester at the time, a manager who always spoke his mind and considering the times he was going through going from plymouth to flailing leicester i found it quite interesting

    I don't know if i'm meant to stray to other blogs but while i'm at it, i'm not a huge fan of the Phil Mcnulty blog - it offers very little in my opinion - obviously it's just a blog and i'm not expecting much, i'm sure phil is busy writing articles, but when you compare it to Tim Vickery's column it seems a bit feeble, where Vickery offers insight into an area I don't know much about and goes a long way to enlighten me, mcnulty is simply giving his two cents on big issues like England matches or club woes (eg newcastle/west ham right now) - it's an opinion that's in every newspaper and there's nothing the average fan doesn't know - it provides a good platform for debate (aside from the many idiots who post, which you'll get anywhere), but when you think about the other columns isn't that more a 606 thing? it just doesn't seem to fit in the 'blogosphere' to me

    as for some new features - I, like perhaps all fans out there, would love to argue with Lawro - his predictions are useless and i think people would relish a platform to have some banter on the forthcoming games, the 'challenge lawro' thing never seemed to work, but some sort of place to compare predictions (aside from the actual predictor, which isn't quite the same) would I think attract a lot of people

  • Comment number 19.

    As an international audience/reader/blogger of BBC, i was at first surprised to hear the name "Gavin Strachan". As a non english i was bound to be surprised as i did. But then as i read his blog, i felt he was one of the real deals.
    We people know only the top footballers who earns in millions and think all of them are same. But if you look more closely only 10% of all those aspirers go through the iron gates and become those who we are proud of. But then those are the "creams" and even there is a lot of distinction between these creams. Some of the rare creams happen to be the likes of Zidane, Ronaldino, maradona, Pele, Puskas etc ...

    But then what happens to the rest of those who still follow football passionately, and still are not the ones we know globally. The life goes on. They follow their career in the lower leagues, hoping to get that break, which may not even come any day...

    I hope Gavin's blog will give us a insight view of a common footballers (in that regards a sportpersons ) life. Yes a common, not an elite sportsperson. Coz they are the majority and their success and satisfaction gives way for future talents...

    I am not sure if i am off the topic or in the topic but i am like that...

    And lasty for Mr nurse, i agree with jamminben13, that your article came after the initial success of Gavin's blog, and is looking for some compliments...
    But lets wait for that rite now, but then as they say, "morning shows the day", you have shown a good morning...

  • Comment number 20.

    I think Gavin Strachan is a very welcome addition to the blogs.

    It will be very interesting to read the thoughts of a player who is playing for the love of the game not the money and fame.

    There is a tremendous amount of interest in football outside the Premiership, Scottish Premier League and the over the top Championship.

    Well done and keep up the good work.

  • Comment number 21.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 22.

    Sirviv are you GS's PR man?

    It will be very interesting to read the thoughts of a player who is playing for the love of the game not the money and fame.

    Vomit inducing, players get paid very well in div 3 as well.


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.