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From the pitch to the Post

Before Nottingham Evening Post sub-editor Andy Collins began his work in newspapers, he enjoyed another successful career as a professional footballer. In the fourth part of our series looking at sportsmen now working in the regional press, he reveals how he stumbled into journalism following five seasons with Carlisle United…

After finishing his A-levels, Andy was faced three career choices – join the Royal Marines, become a trainee manager of a building society – or join Carlisle United.

Andy chose United, and after joining them for the summer during pre-season training he was offered professional terms.

He said: “I thought I would give it a go for a season, and if it didn’t work out I could always get another job.”

In fact Andy ended up staying with the club for five seasons, joining the club when they were in the old third division, and helping them win promotion to the old second division during his last full season.

He played 60 first team games alongside players such as Peter Beardsley and Dave Rushbury – but his career was not without problems.

During that time he had three operations on his knee, and after getting advice from a surgeon, who told him it was unlikely he would have a long career, he decided to get out while he was young.

He stumbled into journalism partly through a reporter that covered Carlisle United and which Andy had often chatted to about his job.

Andy said: “He found the the information about the NCTJ and I applied.”

Andy was offered a place at Darlington College, but in the meantime had been offered the chance to play semi-professional football in South Africa for a year, for Arcadia Fluoride.

Luckily his college place was kept open for a year and after returning from South Africa he took up his place at Darlington before getting a job on the Morecambe Visitor.

After two years he got a senior reporter’s job on the Derbyshire Times in Chesterfield, and then joined the Nottingham Evening Post where he has spent 10 years as a sub-editor.

Andy said: “I think every young boy wanted to be a footballer at some point, and I did enjoy playing.

“I didn’t really enjoy the grind of training and once I started to have problems and time out with injury I thought it was better to get out.

“I’m glad I did it, but it’s not all glory days, struggling in the lower divisions.

“And the money wasn’t like it is now so it was an easier decision to make.”

But despite his time on the pitch, he says he doesn’t fancy returning to the game through sports reporting.

He said: “Sport is still a hobby, but not a job. Football reporting is a hard job to do because you’ve got to keep the club happy and your boss happy.

“I enjoyed the time I had in football and enjoy being a journalist just as much.”

  • Read how Don Hale’s journalism career began on the terraces here.
  • Read about the footballing career of the Manchester Evening News’ Paul Hince here.
  • Read about Herts and Essex Newspapers managing director Gary Matthews’ days in the semi-professional leagues here.

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