838 days. 100 articles. Thousands on thousands of my words posted and read on this forum.
So, it feels rather poignant that article 101 will be my last.
Two years ago, a wide-eyed, bushy-tailed sixteen-year-old fancied rambling about all things Norwich City, knowing he’d bored the minds of those around him with his rants and opinions.
These days, he’s more considered and, hopefully, a better writer.
Youth being given a chance is pertinent given the current make-up of the current Canaries’ XI.
Boldly, academy graduates are now shining on the biggest stage in the world. Those outside NR1 will continue to use the words naïve or risky but for this football club, there is no gamble in providing a platform for young prospects to flourish. The reward outweighs the possible implications, especially for a club built the way Norwich City is.
From this perspective, comparisons can be drawn with my own journey.
That wide-eyed, optimistic and naïve budding writer could have been left with no response or rejected out of hand for lack of experience. Instead, he received patience from those vastly more talented (not true – Ed) and more experienced than him. Young people get given a tag if they don’t try but in life and particularly this profession, few seem willing to let them learn.
Readers who have endured each of my columns will have seen someone who has made mistakes, who has attempted to find a voice and offered opinions that were sometimes wide of the mark.
Even now, the person crafting these words isn’t the finished project. He is still the same person who sought that original opportunity, with the same willingness to learn and improve he had on the first of those 838 days.
MyFootballWriter opened a door that others had refused.
Within those walls, I discovered a community that adores a football club and wants to engage with the Canary Nation, sharing all the content they can. And behind those walls is a strong network of talent.
Whether they contribute once a month or write once a week, nobody is superior, and the emphasis on togetherness was in fashion on MFW way before it appeared in NR1.
Finding your voice in writing is a massive deal.
Constructing your opinions in a coherent, digestible fashion plays a massive part in the debate. Article writing is about being expressive and allowing for those mistakes I discussed earlier. Young people, in particular, will make them, especially in the infancy of being handed a newfound responsibility.
Often tone is pivotal. Prior to MFW, I wrote my own blog but received criticism that made me stop writing. It left me questioning whether I wanted to pursue it.
That’s what makes this platform so unique.
They didn’t discriminate. They didn’t expect. They offered only constructive criticism.
Every one of my columns has been crafted after taking advice, learning and reading those who are more talented than myself (still not true – Ed). Possessing that ability and fire in the belly to improve with a self-critical perspective is what’s developed.
So many people have offered words that I’ve absorbed in my quest to progress in an industry full of competition and talent.
By no means does my new venture mean I’ve reached the heights. It is merely a new road for me to forge, but more to come on that later.
In January, the editor of this site, Gary Gowers, sent me an email asking whether I’d be interested in interviewing City’s Sporting Director Stuart Webber. I was 18-years-old at the time and, with hindsight, there were safer pairs of hands who would have offered an alternative to my rawness.
Daniel Farke describes it as taking people to a door. Gary showed me a door and on the other side was the surrealness of it all, and it was up to me to take the step through it.
The football club then invited us to film that interview, and the MFW YouTube channel was born, some might say by accident but, in truth, it had been an aspiration for some time.
Once again, what followed could have been meticulously managed by those who ensure this website exists, but instead the reins were handed to me and Ben Ambrose to forge what we wished from our ideas.
The video branch has breathed new life into how I view content and has, hopefully, offered something refreshingly different to the writing on this site. Hours of content later, hundreds of questions asked, the Dereham Town documentary was launched. Another dream and Ben and I had sat and discussed during a maths lesson at school.
Throughout producing that video content, one thing has remained constant and that’s my passion for writing.
It’s a cathartic form of expression. Through my A-Levels, it served as the perfect relaxation in amongst exams and relentless revision. All geared to one aim.
So, after hours sat at this keyboard, producing articles on a fantastic football club, I’m delighted to say I’ve accepted a role at the Eastern Daily Press to become their new Norwich City Reporter. Working with a prestigious set of journalists, I’ll be honing my craft on an altogether different ship from next Monday onwards.
I’m not exaggerating when I say this is a dream role, made possible by the opportunity I was handed on this website.
There is a unique place in the Norwich City sphere for this site, a professional, fan-focused site that offers columns daily on a football club celebrated, rightly, by its community. It has been an honour to serve it and, regardless of my new professional hat, it’s one I will always support and engage with.
Gary, Rick Waghorn and the team are a special group of people. They opened their arms to a young, raw writer and gave him a voice, allowed him to express himself and placed him in chairs that are unthinkable, sitting eye-to-eye with childhood heroes.
To Ben Ambrose, who has slaved away on edits and through adversities, a big thank you. He is my best friend and someone who has been a great source of comfort throughout the last few months. A talented video producer but an even greater friend. Thank you, mate.
From interviewing Stuart Webber to dissecting the Farke era, every word has been compiled with passion and a willingness to learn.
Gary is a meticulous editor, someone who will have nitpicked this article and uploaded it in a way that maximises its quality. Not only has been a great shoulder to lean on but also a tutor to learn from and a friend I’ve made forever. I’m so grateful to him for opening his door and letting me join the MFW family.
Every snippet of advice, every green light for a video idea and every article he’s read when it’s been poorly self-edited or written, is greatly appreciated. He is the heartbeat this site depends upon, an underrated hero, providing an audience with great content.
He’s probably made me look much better than I actually am!
So, thank you to all of you who have read my musings and engaged either on social media or in the comments section. I always read them.
And with that, I raise my bat. 101 and out.
I’m not one for goodbyes, so I’ll just say, see you soon.
Time to walk through another door.