Shamrock Rovers v Sporting Fingal - Airtricity League Premier Division

From Inside
The Lion’s Den

on March 17 | by

Getting inside information is a daily chore for journalists, although some have gotten so close that they ended up on the other side. In the world of football, this has seen many reporters take on the unexpected role of press officer for teams.

 

By Gareth Maher

 

If you have followed Irish football closely over the last decade or so, you are bound to have come across the name of ‘John Fallon‘ in various newspapers, websites, match programmes, and even mentioned on the radio.

One of the most knowledgeable men on Irish football – you want this guy on your quiz team – John has been covering the underage, domestic, international, and women’s scene for long enough to build up one of the best reputations in the business.

And that is exactly why Sporting Fingal turned to him in 2007 to become their first-ever press officer – a role that is so vital within a new club. Here is John’s recollection of that experience of working on the other side…

 

Why did you get involved in becoming a press officer?
A former colleague asked me four weeks before the season started because Sporting Fingal were shuttled into First Division when Kilkenny pulled out. Having agreed to help out for a month, it ended up being three years.
Was it difficult to go from covering a club to solely promoting their interests?
No because many fans of clubs end up reporting on them in their professional life. Anyone who read Jim Rhatigan’s reports on Kilkenny City could testify that the closer you get to a club, the more critical you can become of them.
What were the biggest challenges in the role as a journalist?
Adapting to the teamwork aspect. Freelance reporting involves doing a specific job and being accountable for it, whereas this role was one of many in the club that were interlinked.
Did anything surprise you about the role initially or now that you look back on it?
Maybe not a surprise but the difference in dealing with the media attention in the owner from wider circles. He made it abundantly clear from the outset that interviews weren’t his thing. That stretched to that point that he made (Chelsea owner) Roman Abramovich seem like (Peterborough United chairman) Darren MacAnthony.
Would you do it again? Encourage others to do something similar?
Unlikely because this was a fresh club in my area with no baggage. I’d certainly encourage people to do it, if time allowed. Getting to work on the likes of FAI Cup finals and UEFA Europa League matches was a great experience.

 

 

*Image courtesy of Sportsfile

 

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