“I came to Nottingham in September ‘72 and graduated in July ‘75, I did Industrial Economics with Politics as a subsidiary. Even at that time I knew I wanted to work in media but in those distant dark ages there were only about 3 or 4 further education media degrees. My dad worked in business and we had a deal that I would try to pursue my ambitions to work in media but if I wasn't making progress, then I'd accept defeat and become an accountant instead. And that continued when I joined Radio Trent, he said give it 6 or 12 months, it won't happen!
“Much as I tried to be a diligent student, my three years at Nottingham were actually more productive in terms of providing opportunities to write, to act, and be involved in aspects of the media. I was pretty active with the university newspaper, “Gongster” - I used to have my own column called Mel O'Drama. I also quickly became involved in what we called the Social Committee that booked all the bands for the university. I really wanted to be involved in organising the Saturday night gigs after I saw Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band in my Fresher’s Week. Best of all I joined DramSoc (now The Nottingham New Theatre), which had a section called Revue. I wrote a comedy revue which we took to the Edinburgh festival.
“At Uni, I met people who wanted to write and perform comedy; who shared my interest in rock music and had the chance to write creatively for a publication. Those three opportunities really were far more important to me than anything I learnt in a lecture.
I spent half my week down around the city ground waiting to interview Cloughie, so I was a part of the club really for about 18 months.
“Radio Trent came on air the day I graduated. In the months leading up to my finals, I was aware that this new commercial radio station was being built, so I just used to go and make a nuisance of myself. I got the name of the programme controller who was going to be the main hirer of talent for Radio Trent, and basically told him I wanted to work for him.
"About 3 weeks before I took my finals, I remember sitting in my student house on Church Street in Lenton, and the phone rang and it was Bob Snyder, the programme controller. He said "I've just phoned you to say I'm getting absolutely tired of you, I don't want you just coming hanging around here" - and he gave me a real rollicking for about 30 seconds! I can remember the chill going through me and all my dreams being shattered. Then he said “I’ve decided there's only one thing I can do, I want you to come and work for me.” I asked – “what degree do I need?” and he replied “You don’t need a degree to make tea!”
"So the 2:1 that I’d eagerly been studying for three years for, very quickly became a 2:2, because I didn’t do a stroke of work in the last three weeks. I was broadcasting on the day Trent Radio came on air – which was also my graduation day. My parents came to see me in cap and gown and I then dashed down to the studios to read a 30 second voice over. The managers realised that they had more than enough sports output for more than one person, so after about 2 or 3 months they took me onto the sports staff, where I was allocated as the Forest reporter. The team were still in the second tier of English football and going nowhere really, but Cloughie had come in and started to make changes.
“I was the same age as the players then so we'd socialise together and they became my mates. I spent half my week down around the city ground waiting to interview Cloughie, so I was a part of the club really for about 18 months. It was only because I got an offer to join a Liverpool radio station in the Spring of 77 that I left, and back then, Forest were by no means certain to be promoted. I was joining a station covering Liverpool, who in 1977 came very close to winning the treble. They won the European cup for the first time that summer, and when I arrived in Liverpool I never imagined that I would see Nottingham Forest play again - let alone put Liverpool out of the European Cup 18 months later.
“Getting into the industry is a very different business today than it was back then. If your ambitions are in media and broadcast, then you've got to volunteer to work on behalf of organisations. If you live in Nottingham and you want to write or broadcast on football, then get down to your local club in the national league, or wherever they are, and volunteer to work on their website and their matches. Set up your own blog, your own website and put yourself out there. Be proactive.
"I believe that a lot of the big decisions that have been taken, notably Brexit, have been taken out of ignorance. And I think the news media failed the British public in a big way in the build up to Brexit. They turned it into personality clash instead of trying to educate us to make an informed decision, and I feel very strongly about that.
“Football is a wonderful force for fairness in the world. I'm quite heavily involved in an organisation called Kick it Out in this country, and it's seen as an anti-racism organisation but it's actually much more than that, it's pro-opportunity and pro-fairness organisation. It works to promote equality of opportunity throughout football and our greatest advert for that is the England national team.
France were very close to winning the European final...and I think they're better than they were then for this World Cup.
"France were very close to winning the European final, and they should have won – I think they were better than Portugal. And that can happen, while there many advantages of playing a major championship in your own country there are also attached pressures. I think they're better than they were then. This World Cup, I've got a sneak for France.
“England could not be in better hands, I promise you. We could not have anybody better placed to get the best out of this squad than Gareth Southgate. He's an intelligent man, but that doesn't mean that he's not a winner. I think that the eleven he will put on the field for the first game are all really good players, they're mainly young and inexperienced players, but he's not writing this tournament off, he doesn't see it in those terms. I think they'll be an easy team to support, they'll give it a go, and they’ll play with energy. They’ll play with passion – I’ll be cheering them on.”