Welcome to Industry Insider by Behind Sport. Our latest guest is Head of Media, Henry Deacon!

 

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

I’m Henry Deacon, 19-year-old broadcaster and journalist and I’m currently the Head of Media (Media Officer) for Havant and Waterlooville Football Club. I’ve been at Havant now for just over four years, having been in charge of the club’s media output for three of them.

On top of this I also present a Non-League football programme on Portsmouth based radio station Express FM called Over the White Line, and occasionally dip in on their coverage of Portsmouth Football Club and deputise on their main football shows including live League 1 coverage as well as working for the Darts Planet TV magazine, which, no surprise, is a dedicated darts magazine.

So, I’ve been quite lucky in the fact that I haven’t moved from pillar to post in job roles and that I’ve always had a security of tenure at Havant, a club which has an ambition which matches mine. It is staggering that I joined the club at a time in which it won back to back league championships to promote itself from step 3 to the National League, which for someone not even legal enough to drink by the time the latter came was an experience I will forever cherish so early on in my career. I’ve grown as a person hand in hand with the football club from when I joined at the age of 15 just weeks after finishing my GCSE exams.

Henry Deacon

 

What do you do in your current role?

The short answer to that would be anything and everything really. So matchdays are a super busy day for me, especially when we are playing at home. So, as head of media I run the website and social media channels, including matchday updates on twitter and being the person to press the button on breaking news and to communicate with my colleagues in the press over embargo times.

I also do the matchday commentary for the clubs in house radio station Hawks Radio, which was my initial way of peering my head through the door to start with, and as someone that wants to break it in broadcasting, commentating on an exhilarating game has no closer feeling to it, the buzz is just the best you can possibly get.

I conduct all the in-house club interviews for social media and for YouTube and during this recent period of isolation been presenting a programme with our manager Paul Doswell called the Doscast which we record over Skype.

Home matchdays I’m also in charge of the matchday playlist, probably the area where I get the most stick for, and the handing out of team sheets to the press and chief biscuit provider, again another important job as you always want to make your visitors welcome.

Henry Deacon Havant

 

What does a normal week look like for you?

The honest answer to that is there is no such thing as a normal week in football, where most jobs can feel ominous and repetitive, one thing about this industry is that when things feel normal there is a huge curveball waiting around the corner.

But how most of my weeks function is Monday and Tuesday I’m at university, on top of this role I’m a full time student at Southampton Solent University on the Sports Journalism course, so most of my work is done either on the train to and from uni or in the evenings – I find things like TweetDeck a god send on these days as I can spend the night before up to the wee hours working and then release it the next day and it has the same professional feel. Although I will admit every now and then I have had to let the odd bit of news out mid lecture, hope the course leader isn’t reading this!

Then Wednesday I’m at the club most of the day doing what I need to do, pre-match interviews, sorting out bits of business which I can’t do over the phone and film bits of training which then are edited up ready for either later that evening or released later in the week. After a bit of lunch and our Chef does the meanest lunch going, back home at around 2 or 3, quick change of clothes and then over to Express FM for four to prepare for my 6/7 show. Put it this way it is straight to the sofa come end of play Hump Day.

Thursday follows a similar pattern to Monday and Tuesday before Friday becomes a day where stuff floods out on our website and social media. Manager interviews both in film version and a typed-up version on the website, match previews put online, various tweets, if we’re away putting out arrangements that other clubs want us to share and various other bits and pieces on social media during the day. No matter where we are playing, I always go out for dinner on a Friday night just to zone out for a few hours, or at least try. Usually it is with the family but when we stay overnight with the team then the clubs’ staff and directors go out in the town we’re staying in for a curry night and a couple of drinks, we have had some good laughs. And then around 9/10pm before bed set up tweets and posts for the morning and lay out my clothes for the next day, strange superstition.

Matchday when I’m at home I just potter about in the morning before leaving for the ground around 11:45, which is a 20-minute drive from my house. Away, me the club photographer Kieron and two of the players car-share up and down the country, and we have enjoyed some great laughs and great company the last few years and some weird and wonderful stories, definitely not for consumption here! Then Saturday Night post matchday is always a little treat, usually we have a pit stop away for some fast food or a home game a Dominos sometimes comes into the equation. Can’t all be work and no play now can it!

 

How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?

I knew from about the age of 8 I wanted to be a commentator, use to grow up with the likes of Jon Champion and Clive Tyldesley on the TV all the time and I just knew I wanted to do their job, and I didn’t stop practicing. It drove my parents up the wall, and once got a noise complaint off a neighbour where we used to live.

How I ended up in this job was I thought when I left school I wanted to take on a hobby of some sort and I wanted to see whether I could do some commentary stuff, I thought I’d email around and Les, who I still commentate with at Havant, got back to me ironically at my school prom of all places and asked me to cover a Non-League games and the rest as they say is history, slowly built my way up by working hard to where I am now.

 

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

I think it’s the fact that we are entering a new way of doing things, we now know are able to go about our day to day business in ways we never thought we could before. I have to be honest I never heard of zoom before Coronavirus, the emergence of that and Skype as ways to do interviews is here to stay, as well as working from home.

And I think because we’ve had a lot of times to look back and reflect, when we are able to get to football whenever that is the standard media wise I think will be as good as ever because a bit like an athlete we all work on our game to make ourselves and the products the produce the best that it possibly can be.

Henry Deacon

 

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

My one advice to people is that most of the time that first opportunity doesn’t fall to you, so you have to go and get it. Send emails, create a good portfolio and promote yourself as a brand. Twitter is fantastic for that.

But, my biggest advice is to network because that’s the way that you get your name out there in industry. Going back to earlier on with providing biscuits for press at home games it creates a good impression of you and the football club, on a matchday I’m always in position to shake someone’s hand, welcome them, be genuine and create a good impression of yourself. And, again Twitter is massive for it, I’ve made some great connections also through there and also made sure to keep in contact with those I’ve met on a matchday through that platform and WhatsApp. It’s not just creating a contact but keep it.

With Twitter treat it as your portfolio to the world. We are all our own brand, make sure your profile picture and header creates a good impression, and yes be yourself on twitter but also make sure you don’t tweet something you would later be embarrassed of.

And finally, and possibly the most important thing I can say is be genuine, be yourself, I find being myself, being supportive and having no hidden agenda has served me well thus far. The world right now needs much more kindness!

 

How to follow Henry Deacon on social media…

I’m pretty shameless to plug myself and my work. I’m not the world’s biggest social media user, never used Snapchat and TikTok, and I look at Facebook very rarely, so for me Twitter is my place where all my stuff goes, so if you want to see what goes on in my life then @H_Deaconmedia is where you want to head to.

 

To see my Hawks work go to @HWFCOfficial and the clubs website www.havantandwaterloovillefc.co.uk

 

Thanks for reading our Industry Insider feature with Head of Media, Henry Deacon.