From the brilliant to the bizarre - a decade of life in Norfolk
- Credit: Nick Butcher
From the brilliant to the bizarre and just about everything in between. That’s how I’d describe life working as a regional newspaper journalist.
As we edge towards the end of this strange year, I thought I’d share some of my favourite moments from 10 years of working for the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News – as I pass that milestone this Sunday.
You don’t need me to tell you about the Norwich City roller-coaster. After almost three years back home in Norfolk as a news reporter, I stepped across to the sports desk in November 2013 and within six months I was interviewing a new Canaries manager.
In January of 2014 I’d been interviewing Neil Adams after FA Youth Cup disappointment at Watford, with the reigning champions knocked out by a 4-1 defeat at Vicarage Road. Little did I know that just over three months later I’d be interviewing Adams as he was unveiled as Chris Hughton’s replacement at first-team level.
In seven years on our sports desk I’ve experienced the misery of three Premier League relegations and the excitement of two Championship promotions, including that special day at Wembley in 2015 of course.
Working as a news reporter for almost three years initially - from the seriousness of crime and court stories, to interviewing star names including Sir John Hurt and Sir Michael Palin, and attending the world premiere of the Alan Partridge movie in Norwich – I can only begin to skim the surface of the weird and wonderful experiences of my last 10 years.
From learning just how difficult it is to return a serve from Norfolk’s wheelchair tennis star Alfie Hewett, to interviewing Ben and Tom Youngs at the 2015 Rugby World Cup and matches in the freezing cold at football grounds across our region.
- 1 MATCHDAY RECAP: Dowell stunner puts City on cusp of promotion
- 2 Paddy's Pointers: Five observations from the Canaries' spirited 1-0 Championship win against Derby County
- 3 Premier League here we come for City chief Farke
- 4 Farke makes a pact with City squad
- 5 'Our only concern' - Farke reveals City's promotion roadmap
- 6 City boss too busy to worry about his contract at the moment
- 7 Farke on Canaries records, Rooney and respecting the Rams
- 8 EFL announce revised schedule to avoid Prince Philip funeral clash
- 9 Stiepermann opens up about health problems
- 10 Spud Thornhill: Early days, but can City break that promotion record?
One that stands out in the memory is from January 2015, when I was driving down to Kent to cover Norwich United in action at Ashford United in the FA Vase fifth round.
It seemed likely that the game would be postponed due to snow but with temperatures climbing enough locally for the game to go ahead, it ended up being a rushed departure in the afternoon.
With colleague Norman Byrgrave along for the ride, some language not fit for a family newspaper began to roar from the driver’s seat just as we hit the M25 – as I realised I’d left my laptop at home! Thankfully, the nice folks at Ashford leant me a laptop so that I was able to file a report on the Planters’ 5-0 win as planned.
All’s well that ends well. Lesson learned. Talking of laptops...
In January 2018 I was at Carrow Road for an FA Youth Cup fourth round tie. Thankfully, so was my colleague Michael Bailey, as my laptop screen was smashed midway through the first half as a clearance flew into the City Stand.
I stuck out a hand instinctively and the screen was trapped between my hand and the fast-moving ball. We still managed to hit deadline, so could smile about it all afterwards.
One of my most embarrassing Carrow Road memories came in September 2014 though, thanks to former Charlton boss Bob Peeters.
I’d covered the pre-game press conference and at the time we used to make a score prediction as part of our preview package. Mr Peeters spotted my prediction of 3-0 to Norwich. You can guess what happened next.
After the Addicks had won 1-0, the Belgian said: “Norwich are a top team but I showed my players a local newspaper that had a prediction for them to win 3-0.” Thanks, Bob.
I’ve interviewed Teemu Pukki in a toy room at the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston just before Christmas, John Ruddy in a school library, Daniel Farke in a busy hotel lobby in Florida and Onel Hernandez at a boxing gym with Christoph Zimmermann acting as occasional translator.
I attended a Mick McCarthy press conference at Ipswich’s training ground ahead of the 2015 play-off games and I managed to annoy Cameron Jerome during the celebrations at Wembley with a clumsily worded question about his previous goal-scoring record in the Premier League.
It certainly hasn’t been boring. Yet as we make the long trip up to Blackburn on Saturday with Norwich top of the league, who knows, that third promotion experience may not be too far away.
I’ll finish with a thank you, to you, our readers, for continuing to pick up our newspapers or visit our websites. It’s been brilliant to have 2,000 fans back at Carrow Road for the last two matches. Here’s hoping we can start thinking about 27,000 again in a few months’ time.