In Edition #234 of Industry Insider, we chat with sports writer and broadcaster Dan Godfrey. Dan’s worked with the likes of Sunderland AFC, Millwall and Barnsley so this one is full of great insight into the world of football!

Dan Godfrey

 

Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?

I’m Dan Godfrey, a sports writer and broadcaster originally from Portsmouth, but currently living in Australia. In recent years, my work has taken me through some very enjoyable roles internally in the media departments of a trio of EFL football clubs. My most recent role was with Sunderland, with whom I spent the past three years. At the club, I was responsible for a variety of duties including the matchday programme, Academy coverage and handling press accreditation. I oversaw a lot of the club’s editorial content, and chipped in on social media output. My first full-time industry role was a similar one with Millwall, where I spent 18 months, straight after graduating from the Uni of Huddersfield with a sports journalism degree in 2018. My final year studying was also spent interning with Barnsley, my first EFL club, after several years in non-league and freelancing with companies such as BT Sport, BBC Radio and various news outlets.

 

What do you do in your current role?

My current situation is freelance-based, meaning that I’m open to work and seeking either contractual or full-time employment in the industry. Having only left Sunderland at the end of the recent season, I am now in Australia and eligible to work out here – a country I have family heritage from and have always wanted to experience living in, alongside my girlfriend. I am currently working on a couple of small written and broadcast projects, and have been in touch with a few potential contacts based in Sydney as I look to get more in place.

Dan Godfrey

“Normal” isn’t a thing in sport so what does an “average” week look like for you?

A week at Sunderland and at Millwall for me weren’t too dissimilar, in that the football schedule was the same and so you’d be basing everything around matches on a Saturday and often a Tuesday. In terms of what I’d be doing, at Sunderland I would need to have each programme signed off by Wednesday afternoon for one half and Thursday morning for the other if it was a weekend home game, and Friday/Monday for a midweek. I would always cover the Under-21 team home and away, who played predominantly on Mondays but also on Fridays. Overseeing accreditation, journalists would apply for press access through the DataCo system, and I would have all passes ready the day before each home game. This process would be the opposite way round when applying for our media team to get to away matches. Other miscellaneous work would crop up regularly, such as interviews, transfer or Academy features, or community events.

 

How did you end up where you are right now?

I wanted to get a foot in the door as early as possible, as everyone in the industry or trying to get on the ladder knows how competitive it is. My first break was volunteering at one of my local non-league clubs, Gosport Borough, starting from when I was 16 and finishing before going to uni at 19, with some freelance work along the way. I knew a sports journalism degree appealed most, and what I find a real eye-opener is that the number of universities offering the course has drastically risen since 2015 when I started. Although I grew up down south, there were three northern unis to choose from, and I went to Huddersfield – when I began my degree, the lecturers there were second to none – some of whom I’m still in contact with. I was interning with FC Halifax Town and then Barnsley – those experiences reinforced my enjoyment for club media. The opportunity at Millwall came up during the summer when I graduated, and I credit them for giving me the chance straight out of uni in my early twenties. I left around Christmas 2019 and returned to freelance, doing a few bits with BBC Radio and various newspapers before the Covid pandemic. I spoke with Sunderland about an upcoming vacancy and joined at the start of the 2020-21 season, and owe the club a lot of gratitude for bringing me back into full-time club media – it was something I missed!

Dan Godfrey

 

When did you know you wanted to work in sport?

As long as I can remember. Football is my passion, but I love watching any sport or anything competitive. I was that kid who wrote match reports on games off the TV when I was 10, I was the kid who commentated on their Fifa 08 games, I was the kid who religiously watched Premier League Years to the point I could name the most obscure goalscorers from a random cold Tuesday night in Blackburn in 2006. As my dad says, football will always be your mate.

What is your number one focus when it comes to your work?

Just embracing it. We’re only human – sometimes pressure can be hard to deal with, as in this industry we are at the mercy of what happens in the sport we’re working in. There will be quiet days, then everything all at once. But the way I find to stay focused is to remember where you’re at – it’s where you always wanted to get to a few years ago. Take pride in your work – look back and be able to say you’re proud to have accomplished something.

 

Can you tell us about a time you failed and what you learned from it?

Like many of us, there have been times I’ve missed out on job opportunities at the last hurdle. There was one in particular some time ago with an English ‘big six’ club that I felt confident in – the interview process had gone well, I was called back for further interviews and the discussions were encouraging. I missed out, with the successful candidate judged to be more suited due to their sole background in writing, whereas I was involved with communications and social media at the time too. It was difficult when we’re always encouraged to be more well-rounded in the industry, but my main take from it was that no two jobs are ever the same, and there is the perfect job out there for everyone, no matter their skill-set.

What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?

Just the rapid transformation of everything. It’s crazy to see how quickly media output changes – just 10-15 years ago, we were only just in the transition of newspapers being our main source of information to the web, and later social media. Now, especially in sport, platforms like TikTok and updates to Instagram and YouTube are dominating the media game – content success is measured on engagement and marketability. American sport franchises are front and centre at the moment, but watching how British and Australian clubs are adapting is really interesting to see.

 

If you could change one thing about your Industry, what would you change?

It can be a tricky topic to discuss at times, but – mainly surrounding internships and entry-level jobs – there are many companies out there that will offer little to no wages, even when particular job descriptions require a degree or a long list of essential skills. In our industry, we do understand that demand from candidates is far greater than supply of vacancies from companies. But this means companies can take advantage, knowing a degree-qualified role at minimum wage will often still attract hundreds of applicants, who are then often found seeking a balance between getting a potentially exciting job, and knowing they’ll be financially stable. You get what you pay for – and some of the household names in our industry have brought this to light.

Sport is a hectic industry, what do you do to switch off?

As a sports fanatic, watching or playing would usually be my way of escaping the work mindset for a short time. But when you’re working in sport itself, sometimes it can be relentless and you need a change of scenery. When I was full-time in football, I often found myself watching less football away from work, and leaving the house a bit more! I love travelling, which is a big reason I am where I am now, and I like to see things, go for walks, appreciate music or comedy or anything like that. And, of course, a nice pint out of work hours never goes amiss.

Dan Godfrey

 

What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?

Before I give this advice, what I will say is fair play to the people in the industry who have worked their way towards jobs in their local area that they’re happy in, as it’s a very tough thing to achieve. But generally speaking, you’re far more likely to open yourself up to so many more opportunities by being willing to travel and relocate, of course family-permitting. I’ve lived in five different UK cities before now coming abroad, and whilst it’s something I find exciting anyway, work was the main reason for most of those moves. As I say, I understand some have little choice but to remain local due to family commitments, but for plenty of young people out there with no ties, looking to break into the industry, moving away could be the best thing you ever do.

How to follow Dan Godfrey…

Everything regarding my professional life is on my LinkedIn page, which can be found by searching my name and ‘sports writer’.

My Twitter and Instagram are both @dangodfrey_ – work goings-on are always posted on my Twitter page – and plenty of my written work over the past few years can be found on my WordPress site: itsdangodfrey.wordpress.com.

For any work enquiries, please email me at dangodfrey27@gmail.com.

 

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