Thankfully and fortuitously Rob did get back in touch offering me the chance to showcase my skills in the press box vs Southampton as well as shadow him filming and interviewing fans. Brilliant! I can't remember what I did but I probably did a Stevie T fistpump in excitement.
I met Rob at the Sir Bobby Robson statue at 11.45 and it was chucking it down. Rob came out and introduced himself to myself, Marc (@MarcJobling) and Jubilee (@JJJubilee) who were also on placement. We piled into the elevator that took us to level 7 and Rob showed us the offices in which he works along with the rest of the media team. He sat us all down and explained the do's and the don'ts such as celebrating in the press box. That was going to be tricky, 3 days earlier I woke up the neighbour's bairn celebrating Shola's penalty vs Metalist. After this, he outlined the itinerary. Due to it being 'french day' proceedings were different. Rob was required to capture more footage of the fans than usual such as those in fancy dress and wearing French themed face paint. As well as this, we stopped to film the french dancers which I don't think any of us minded. My job was relatively simple, alert Rob if we see anyone he may miss.
|This lad was on fire|
After this, we headed to level 7 where my season ticket is located. Luckily, we didn't have to trail the steps like I do most match days, we took the lift. I observed Rob interview families and young children who were more than enthusiastic on camera. After this I was offered the opportunity to interview a boy of about 8 which I grabbed with both hands. I rattled off my first question and the young boy replied happily explaining why he was dressed up and who helped design it. I panicked briefly during it as words escaped me for a second before I regained thought. The young lad enthused about Yoan Gouffran and how he was his new favourite player and then the interview finished. Rob gave me some brief feedback, saying I spoke with clarity but that I started too quickly and that I should always check with the cameraman first. Silly me. Humorously one of the french dancers offered me a free t-shirt; she'd mistaken me for a little lad. Slightly embarrassing but I got a free t-shirt! We headed down to pitch side where Rob filmed some crowd shots before showing us to our seats in the press box. What a view. It was remarkable to see St James' from this perspective with the crowd filing in and the black and white shirts on display. As the teams came out of the tunnel to the french national anthem - which was utterly bizarre - I felt proud. The french flag began to form and I was smiling like a cheshire cat.
As the game settled down, it was the Southampton fans making all the noise in level 7. They then had more reason to cheer when Schneiderlin fired home early on. A bloody frenchmen, irony at its finest. Here we go again I thought. I checked the replay to see if it was a legitimate goal and made a note of the scorer of the goal and the time it went in. I'd done a fair bit of research for the game and had prepared a sheet with the player's names, numbers, goal time and formation which I added to before kick off.
In the half an hour before Sissoko's equaliser I imagined what Ryan the fan would be doing right now. More than likely, I'd be going mad, letting my mouth go a bit too much and calling them all useless. But I was calm. When Gouffran raced down the left side menacingly, I could feel the whole stadium creep forward on their seats and when Sissoko poked in, nothing happened on my part. Astonishingly, I sat as if we hadn't scored. I turned to see the lads celebrate and I looked round at the Gallowgate and to the Leazes to see the geordie faithful going nuts. When Cisse hammered home that monster of a volley I did nothing as well. Don't ask how, I don't know! I must've been in the zone; smiling no doubt.
At half time I was about to start typing the start of my 400 word match report that I'd be assigned to do by Rob but before I could begin I was whisked off to the press room where I was easily the youngest there. I had some tea and tasted the nicest brownie ever. As I looked around me, I couldn't believe who was in the same room as me: Supermac, John Anderson and pretty much all the journos I follow on Twitter.
Rob told me that he'd like the match report pretty much completed by the 90th minute. I started it and just as I'd formed a decent structure, Lambert equalised for the Saints. Not to worry, we have a game on our hands now I thought. I ended up changing my report 3 times and managed to have it done on the final whistle.
|How could I not love these guys?|
After the game we went back into the press room and I watched the press interview Pardew and Pochettino which was a really interesting experience. As I walked out with Rob back to his office he explained what he's do with the footage, showed us what he'd made for the Kharkiv match and then went onto explain what our second and final day of work experience would entail. What a brilliant day. I learnt a lot and every question I asked was answered. I was told of the not so glamorous side of this line of work but it's spurred me on more.
I think I thanked Rob about a thousand times. I'll say it again for good measure, cheers Rob.