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Football manager’s role in helping reporter to beat club ban revealed

Chris ErringtonA sports reporter has revealed how a football manager helped him to beat a reporting ban at the club he covers.

Plymouth Herald journalist Chris Errington has recalled how Neil Warnock came to his aid following a dispute between his newspaper and Plymouth Argyle.

Chris has shared the incident after Mr Warnock, who managed Argyle between 1995 and 1997, announced his retirement from the sport after 42 years in management.

Then-owner and chairman Dan McCauley had taken exception to the Herald’s coverage “during a turbulent time at the club”, prompting the ban.

Chris, pictured, wrote: “By now, Neil had taken over at Oldham Athletic and they were the visitors to Home Park on Saturday, 29 November 1997.

“Neil was well aware of our ban and, coming nine months after his Argyle dismissal, he was more than happy to talk about his return before and after the game, which Oldham won 2-0.

“Very kindly, he invited me to carry out a post-match interview with him on the front row of the Oldham team coach, which was conveniently parked outside the ground.

“As soon as the final whistle was blown, I drove from the TV studios in Plympton to Home Park and met up with Neil. Not many – if any – other managers would have done that, but he has always appreciated the role of the local press.

“I was led to believe it did not go down well with McCauley but it made for a good story and photo opportunity for the Herald though.

“Thankfully, the ban was eventually lifted that December and, in the end, I would like to think McCauley and I developed a reasonably good working relationship.”

Mr Warnock, who has lived in South-East Cornwall since his time managing Argyle, went on to serve as a columnist for the Herald’s sister title the Western Morning News for many years.

Describing him as a “good friend” to the papers, Chris added: “He was also good enough to pop into Plymouth Live’s then Millbay office in January 2020 to be the very special guest for our Argyle Chat podcast.

“Neil could not have been in better form as we spoke about his managerial career. He was in no rush to leave, although that was perhaps because his wife Sharon was shopping in the nearby city centre.

“I know many other football reporters up and down the country will have similar tales to mine of Neil and his relationship with the media.

“He always welcomed the interaction with reporters, and we all appreciated it.”