Welcome to Industry Insider by Behind Sport. Our latest guest is European football writer, Rob Hemingway!
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
My name is Rob Hemingway and I’m currently a freelance European football writer. I write for a variety of outlets such as Football Index, Planet Football and MARCA. In the past I’ve written for Football Espana, MUNDIAL and Crystal Palace FC. I also cover my hometown club Woking FC for a local print newspaper.
Lastly, I also follow tennis avidly and have written features in the recent past for Tennishead and Tennis365.
What do you do in your current role?
The nature of being freelance allows me to have a specialism – European football – whilst also dipping my toe in other areas of sports writing.
For example, it means that I can balance covering English players in Europe – as I do weekly for Football Index – with writing longer-form features for sites such as Planet Football. For MARCA, I edit Spanish-language articles into English for the web, and contribute to the official Twitter account.
And in terms of my role covering Woking, it’s a mix of interviewing players and management, producing my own opinion pieces, and covering matches on a weekend or a Tuesday night. I like the ‘realness’ of this part of my job. You get unbridled access to players, managers and owners, and it gives you an understanding of football from top to bottom, which helps when you write about the game day-to-day!
What does a normal week look like for you?
It’s an enjoyable mix.
Monday and Tuesday is usually about covering what’s gone on in football at the weekend, and for me that’s seeing how our various Englishmen have fared in their respective European top-flight leagues. During the middle of the week I might be writing in-depth analysis or opinion pieces – or doing childcare! – and then towards the end of the week it’s more about previewing the action to come, for MARCA typically.
During the weekend I’m usually in the press box at Woking FC, or covering other local clubs further down the non-league pyramid.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
I career changed into sports writing in my early 30s.
I had worked in the corporate world since graduating – and though I had some great experiences in sports business towards the end of that period, such as working under Sir Clive Woodward – sports writing had always been my dream career, and I finally reached a point where I could do it.
I played sport from a young age – culminating in playing professional hockey during my early 20s – and I always knew I wanted to be in the industry somehow.
One of the hardest things has been knowing whether I was on the ‘right’ path, as there is no hard and fast rule about how to do a career change. But I was lucky to be able to find and then do well at various writing roles, which has taken me to where I am now.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
In terms of journalism, I’m excited to see how ventures like ‘The Athletic’ fare. I’m a huge believer that – just like you pay a subscription to watch sport or listen to music – you should also pay to read quality journalism. For whatever reason, most news business models haven’t been that way as of yet, but I hope this approach will help secure the long-term future of the industry.
In terms of football itself, the depth of young talent in the English game is something to look forward to. In the past we tended to only have one or two players per generation who would feature in the world-class conversation, but now we have a surfeit of youngsters coming through. Just this week I read the CIES Football Observatory report on Europe’s most valuable players, and five of the top 10 were English!
Hopefully it translates to success in a Euros or a World Cup…
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
Persist! As a career-changer I know how hard ‘getting in’ can be. There will be knockbacks, but accept them as part of the journey.
And for all those knockbacks, it only takes one ‘yes’ and you’re on the way.
How to follow Rob Hemingway on social media…
I put all my content on my Twitter – @rob_hemingway. It’s a terrific place (most of the time!) to talk to like-minded football/sports fans, so do get in touch!
Thanks for reading our Industry Insider feature with the European football writer, Rob Hemingway!