“You ought to write a book.” It’s a suggestion, and a worthwhile one, that many a sports reporter has had from the well-meaning in view of the stories, anecdotes and even secrets collected and stored away across the years.
Alan Biggs, man of words both written and spoken and familiar across this area (and beyond) has done just that.
‘Confessions of a Football Reporter...another Biggs at Large’ (by Alan Biggs, Vertical Editions) is the response from ‘’Biggsy’ whose strings on a wide-ranging bow include keeping the Sheffield Telegraph abreast of Sheffield’s football happenings.
Chuck in his work for national newspapers and the embryonic Radio Hallam, BBC Radio 5 and also as a BBC Final score summariser, and Alan’s wide range of contacts and experiences across the local and national scene ensure that there has been plenty with which to get writing about in a book.
It’s interesting for those of us in the business and will definitely be interesting and certainly enlightening for those who look on from outside at a life in sports journalism.
Alan, known in our business as “a good operator” and who began his journalistic life with the weekly Derbyshire Times in Chesterfield (yes, he’s a Spireite!), may open a few eyes of those who simply read or listen, not least the requirement to often run with the hare and hunt with the hounds.
Of course, there’s the fall-outs with football managers along the way and he chronicles a few of those including of the manager (current and local) who answered his call and exploded: “I’m f***ing furious with you.”
There’s lots to inform, interest, titillate and chuckle over from both his radio days (as a raw recruit at Hallam) and his newspaper experiences.
Which Sheffield manager, after speaking to a player following a story, then confronted Alan with “one of you is f*** lying” but was later to apologise when the player admitted what had happened?
Which era in the city’s football represents the most enjoyable of his career? Who does he accuse of lacking moral courage over the timing of a manager’s sacking?
And which city chairman’s era does he admit he didn’t enjoy adding: “An essentially friendly club lost its soul”.
How DID he acquire those many exclusives? Which Sheffield manager’s holiday home did he stay at? How did he end up getting an exclusive interview with one of the Beatles? Which world-famous sporting star did Alan once deliberately blank? To his shame and regret!
Which sport did he report on and he hadn’t a clue about it? Which game reduced him to tears? And which famous BBC commentator called him up after a seemingly innocuous remark Alan made in a free paper in Sheffield? Yes, it’s amazing who gets to know what you’ve written even in the most obscure places!
But falling out with managers is the least of the perils. Which ground did he get locked in at after a night game and had to call the police to have him ‘freed’?
Note too how journalists can be told one thing by sporting stars which leads to a cracking story - only to be told by the same people that it wasn’t right after all!
Plenty more tales in there too. And plenty more to come one imagines.
lThree legends of Sheffield football will be joining Alan Biggs for a book signing at Waterstones in the city centre on Saturday, October 15th. Come and meet Tony Currie, Mel Sterland and Imre Varadi at the Waterstones shop in Orchard Square between 11am and 12 noon. And it’s the day before the derby so plenty to talk about as well!