Lifelong Swindon Town fan Sam Morshead grew up to cover the club for the Swindon Advertiser and the Daily Mail ; in Thursday’s Guardian, he explains how this nasty sports journalism stuff has essentially ruined following The Robins (“following the 2013 takeover of the club, the boardroom has been dominated by hearsay, scandal, infighting and uncertainty…now the stroll to the stadium was just a walk to work”).
For months, embedded reporters had to handpick reality from make-believe on a daily basis. Many of us were fans and I felt envious of those who were not. Two warring owners threw loose accusations at one another with increasing regularity. Some allegations were made public and supporters had to watch their club tugged around like a scraggy rope in the High Court. My job was to watch the entire episode through a microscope, poring over the tiny details.
Had it been another industry or even another team in the Football League, it would have been fascinating. The stories at hand were the kind that journalists delight in – the intrigue, the dirt, the mystery – but this was my club. I wanted to look on it with childish enthusiasm and to be in the away end at Elland Road, jumping into a stranger’s arms as Charlie Austin scored the third goal in a 3-0 win. Instead, I was fielding questions about the insolvency history of Swindon’s majority shareholder
I miss having to restrain my emotions in the press box when Swindon score; recently they recovered from 3-1 down to beat Crewe 4-3 and I caught myself groaning about the resultant 91st-minute rewrite. I no longer walk into the concourse and feel at home; I’ve been banned, ostracised and accused of lying on multiple occasions by the current owner and now play the role of “unwanted guest number one” on matchdays.