The art of live sports reporting and the woes of being a Barnsley fan - Ian McMillan

In my time I’ve tried my chubby hand at all different kinds of writing: poems, stories, columns for newspapers and magazines, book and music reviews, plays for radio and the stage, words for songs.

"I was in awe of the skill, particularly of some of the younger writers." - Ian McMillan.

I reckon that it’s always better for the ‘‘career’’ and a lot more fun if you can be a jack of all trades and a master of none.

Sometimes it doesn’t work out, of course. I was once asked to write some gags for a comedian and I sent a dozen in and the producer of the show they were for replied that he liked number eight if I could make it funny.

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The kind of writing I’ve always wanted to have a go at, though, is the writing of a match report for a newspaper’s live blog. This feels to me like real writing, like language under pressure, having to turn life into art in real time for a discerning audience who want to know what is happening but who want to know it straight away.

In the old days, of course, the sports reporter would breathlessly file their copy and it would somehow miraculously get printed in (round our part of Yorkshire) the Green ’Un and you’d be able to read it on your way out to the chip shop just after you’d got home from the match.

I somehow felt, as the years advanced, that this might be the kind of writing I’d never have a go at.

That is, until my mate Nige Tassell got in touch about a book he’s writing on this strangest of locked-down masked-up football seasons, and he wondered if I’d like to wander around Barnsley with him and then go to Barnsley versus Sheffield Wednesday.

I answered, as they say, in the affirmative. So there I was the other Saturday in the Press Gallery at Oakwell. And what an amazing and inspiring sight it was.

I often think about The Brill Building in New York, where offices full of songwriters wrote hit after hit and this was a bit like that; rows of people speaking into microphones or pounding away on keyboards as the game went on in front of them.

I was in awe of the skill, particularly of some of the younger writers who at first glance appeared not to be looking at the game at all but who were also live-tweeting it as it happened.

Radio reporters were speaking a kind of informed and rhythmic stream-of-consciousness about the match and, being a fan of radio reporting, I know that the urgency and excitement in their voices made the whole match feel urgent and exciting.

Which of course it was, for me as a Barnsley fan, which meant that any reporting I did would have been biased and sketchy.

We lost, but what a joy to be in that room with those fabulously creative people. I think I’ll stick to the column writing, though!