Freelance Sports Writer and Broadcaster | Andy West

Hi Andy, thank you for taking the time to speak to us today. Can you tell our readers about yourself, what you currently do and how did you end up where you are right now?

I started working in football in 1998 when I saw an ad in the local paper as programme editor at Reading Football Club, applied and got the job. I wasn’t long out of university so it was a perfect starting point and I was lucky that the club did really well, eventually getting promoted to the Premier League in 2006. That opened up lots of opportunities for me, as did the digital revolution which made online journalism extremely important. The club website was an afterthought when I arrived and many clubs didn’t have one at all. That soon changed.

When did you know you wanted to work in the football?

Simple answer and the same as most people I guess: when I realised I wasn’t good enough to be a player! And then when I left uni and got a ‘proper job’ in a PR agency, which I found excruciatingly boring, I became even more keen.

As a freelance sports writer and broadcaster for the likes of La Liga TV, BBC Sport and others, what does a ‘normal’ week look like for you?

Some of my work is routine. I generally cover one game for La Liga TV every Saturday and Sunday. On Tuesday mornings I record the voiceover on a highlights show for the Spanish basketball league. Thursday and Friday nights are EuroLeague games.

What are the most enjoyable and difficult parts of your role?

I most enjoy commentating, because you are totally immersed in the game and really have to ‘live’ the action. You have to stay totally focused and there’s a fair amount of pressure because obviously it is live, but that makes it more enjoyable.

What’s been your standout moments/highlights so far?

It’s been a long time so there have been a few. Getting promoted to the Premier League with Reading was amazing, of course.

Who are your favourite football writers or commentators at the moment and what do you think it is that makes them so brilliant?

Jonathan Liew at the Guardian is my favourite sports writer. He has a fantastic ability to find unique angles to very well known events or people, even when he’s writing match reports under deadline pressure.

What general advice would you give to those individuals looking to pursue a career in football writing? What are the key skills required?

Firstly, go back to what I said about Sid Lowe. He is a genuine expert, so he has instant credibility because it’s obvious he knows what he’s talking about. If you want to be an expert in a specific subject area, gain expertise. And that takes simple hard work. It’s worth putting in the hours because there is no substitute for expertise, even in our new clickbait world.

I’m sure you’ve sent countless pitches in your time. In your opinion, what makes a good pitch? Any key advice you can share with freelancers at the start of their journey looking to pitch their stories/ideas to editors?

Firstly, make them relevant. If you pitch a great story about the French second division to the editor of a website specialising in German football, you’re wasting everybody’s time including your own. So make the effort to ensure you are approaching the right person, which also means you can make it personal instead of the ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ approach.

Working in sports can be hectic, so what do you do to switch off outside of work?

Music. I have played guitar since I was nine and play in a band with some friends. The Four Kings…not coming soon to any venues anywhere near you!

And finally Andy, where can people find you on social media to connect?

I simplify my online life because it can take up a LOT of time which can otherwise be used more productively, so I’m only on Twitter - @andywest01.



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