What could be better than waking up every morning, knowing your day would be spent talking about and watching football?
It’s a nice idea, and it’s one that Dean Jones, football reporter for The People, subscribes to. Except for him, of course, it’s a reality.
There’s no fitting in matches around work, no catching up on interviews after the nine-to-five is over. Football is his job and he very much lives it. And he’s always wanted to.
“I knew from a very early age that if I did not make it as a footballer, I wanted to write about it,” Dean said.
“I read papers every day from the age of about 14 and by 16 I was covering matches for an agency, who are now called Hayters Teamwork.
“Thinking back, it was brave of them to let me do it so young but it kind of came naturally to me so I didn’t think about how old I was.
“I had a full-time job as a reporter by age of 20.”
As much as it came naturally, and despite a somewhat captivating façade to the role of a sports journalist, Dean admits it’s not all plain sailing.
The boom in social media has added a new aspect to his job and, unsurprisingly, instant interaction on sites such as Twitter isn’t always complimentary.
“It’s not easy. People seem to think journalists make up transfer stories and news stories but it’s simply not true.
“Making contacts and working out who you can trust takes time, and is not as straight forward as it sounds.
“Twitter has changed the game too, because so many stories/rumours break on there – and we also have thousands of people ready to tweet abuse when we get a story wrong!”
That abuse, seemingly, can even come from fans of his own club – Fulham. When breaking the news of Bobby Zamora’s spat with Martin Jol last year, Dean was met with disdain in some quarters.
He doesn’t let his allegiance to the Whites affect his duty, though, and feels breaking the story is what matters most.
“[Putting loyalties aside is] not something I have ever had a problem with.
“When I broke the story of Bobby Zamora having a bust-up with Jol and stated that he’d be leaving in January, some fans suggested on Twitter I was out of order because I was upsetting the club I support.
“But, ultimately, if you have a good story and know it is correct, you can not worry about who it impacts on.”
That doesn’t mean, of course, that Fulham’s fortunes don’t take their toll. He cites the club’s extra-time loss to Atletico Madrid in the inaugural Europa League final as his saddest moment on the job.
It’s not all bad, though, being a sports hack:
“I was inside the Olympic Stadium reporting on the night Ennis, Farah and Rutherford won their gold medals,” he reminisced.
“That hour was unlike anything I have ever experienced in terms of drama and stadium noise.
“[I] will never see anything like it again, either.”