What really is the view from the pressbox

Sun, Mar 27 2016

Credit: Macdara Ferris


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It started with the question “do you have drive and determination, and are up for the challenge?” The timid response in my head was “sometimes” when back in 2012 extratime.ie put a call out looking for people interested in joining their volunteer reporter team; Thinking about it some more, I reckoned that this was something worth trying and I sent an email to ExtratimeLive@gmail.com - an email that has given me some incredible opportunities over the last four years.


Up to that point I had written a handful of match reports and I had being writing in the Shamrock Rovers match programme for a few seasons but I thought I might broaden my horizons a bit. Little did I think I would be soon sitting in the Jodi Stand reporting on Bohemians, chatting one-on-one with their manager beside the Gypsy home dressing room in Dalymount Park and ‘almost’ cursing a late Shamrock Rovers winner in another game as it meant a match report to re-write!


If you are thinking about signing up, do it! extratime.ie won’t drop you in at the deep end but will throw a relaxing pre-season friendly your way so that you can dip your toe in the reporting water. Not quite the case for my debut in the press box which was  a League of Ireland friendly with nine goals and 13 substitutions so there was lots to fill up the 800 word match report with.


Match night coverage typically will see two extratime.ie reporters in the press box – one covering the match report and one doing ‘minute-by-minute’ updates. Both lead to quite different evenings, with the updates having a more relaxed feel especially as you aren’t limited to 140 twitter characters. You have the freedom to cover the game in your own style; some are more stylish than others though – how about this gem from Dean Hayes who lit up a dreadful Waterford United and Limerick match:


Waterford United 0 - 1 Limerick FC

51' - Sean Maguire embarks on a run as bewitching and intricate as the lead melody from John Mayer's Slow Dancing in a Burning Room, turning Limerick defenders to stone as he twists one way then the other.


Critiquing the two teams out on the field, as well as the officiating team, you become a member of another team – the fourth estate. No journalist is left behind if someone has their eyes on their laptop when a goal goes in. We are all in this together with some goals leading to a long debate about the pass before the assist.


The press box has the best vantage point in the stadium. That is mostly true although I still remember with horror the night landing up in Solitude for a Setanta Sports Cup game and finding the press box high behind one of the goals. It was also the first time to negotiate doing updates for a penalty shoot out at the end of a long 120 minutes. Panic on the streets of Belfast for me.


The importance of wifi, fingerless gloves and a warm hat become ever so important for the start and end of the season and if you are lucky to see the sun shine in the middle of the campaign, don’t forget your shades when taking your place in the Carlisle Grounds. Summer arrives with the prospect of a plethora of European fixtures to attend and when the inevitable exit arrives, the season’s stories move to the top and bottom of the table.


Away from the League of Ireland, extratime.ie can get you a pass for one of the biggest events in town – a press conference with Roy Keane. Just remember to turn your phone to silent and don’t ask a “ridiculous question”. With EURO 2016 coming up this year, there will be plenty of opportunities to hear from Roy and Ireland boss Martin O’Neill and be thankful it isn’t Giovanni Trapattoni or Marco Tardelli you are trying to decipher when you are transcribing interviews after.


With extratime.ie I’ve been lucky enough to cover massive cup finals for competitions like the Leinster Senior Cup and more local affairs such as the Champions League Final between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid; okay maybe I got that the wrong way round! Also our weekly Sportscast gives you the chance to string your sentences together verbally and not just by tapping on your keyboard.


And if that isn’t enough, you too can have the bitter sweet pill of having a League of Ireland manager give out to you about something you’ve written. The bitter taste of the criticism, sweetened by the thought “actually that’s not too bad it means someone is reading my articles!”


See you in a press box for a February League of Ireland friendly then, yeah?


Extratime.ie is on the look out for new talent to join our volunteer reporting team for 2016 to cover all aspects of Irish football. For more details of this exciting opportunity, see here.