The Premier League is without question the biggest and most entertaining sports league in the world.
The drama, the stars, and the storylines formed across a season are just a small percentage of what makes England’s greatest sporting division a joy to watch for the hundreds of millions of fans across the globe.
For many, attending a game is the Holy Grail of experiencing the Premier League. There are countless stories of fans from the far reaches of the world making the pilgrimage to the UK just to see their team play live and in person for one game.
The Premier League is wonderful and unique, and for the 1% of the 1% of fans of the league, their job is to attend games every matchday and get paid to watch matches, talk to the managers and players, and write down their opinions on the Internet.
I have been in this minority since I was 19-years-old, and at the time of writing this I have attended 56 games for a variety of websites as a Premier League match reporter and journalist, and for one night only, I am going to tell you what the job is actually like, so sit back, grab a drink, and relax.
Deciding where to go
The first big decision is pretty simple, what game do I want to cover? As I live in Southend, I am extremely lucky in my geography as I am only 50 minutes away from London by train, meaning I can get to a Premier League or Championship game from my front-door to any stadium in the capital in just over an hour.
For this weekend, December 8th, I was heading to North London to cover Arsenal vs. Huddersfield Town. Attending games at the Emirates is always special to me as I have been an Arsenal fan for the majority of my life, and I always get excited heading down from the Highbury and Islington train station to the ground.
The pre-match warmup
I tend to get to the stadium an hour and a half before kick-off as this gives me enough time to adjust and prepare myself for the game, talk to colleagues in the press lounge, and read the matchday programme to further my reading on today’s game.
As well as catching up with fellow reporters, seeing what press food is available is also a major key to the reporter experience before a game. Arsenal is renowned in the sports journalism community for going all out for food and drink for journalists with lavish spreads and desserts that will give you diabetes just by looking at them.
After getting some food and reading the programme, the call for the teamsheet is announced, and a great stampede happens without fail in every press lounge around the country.
The team news is vital as it’s not only the biggest piece of pre-match news to tweet and blog about, but it always leads to conversations with journalists about why this player should be starting and why that player should be dropped.
At 2:45, I head up to my seat in the press box at the Emirates 15 minutes before kickoff. With Manchester City playing Chelsea at Stamford Bridge later that day, the press box today is rather empty with the majority of the top British sportswriters attending that game instead of occupying the Arsenal.
Because of this, I’m sat on my own at a two-person desk in the front row for the first time this season, behind season ticket holders in the west stand. As the teams walk out, I remember why I hate sitting in the front row as standing fans completely cut out my field of vision, as well as the vision for reporters on the second and third row.
Thankfully, the first half flies by without as much as a cheer. Alexandre Lacazette’s offside goal was the only real highlight/controversy of the opening 45 minutes, and the sound of the halftime whistle means I can return back to the press lounge for the break.
The vital halftime hot chocolate
With it being December and England, it was absolutely freezing as the sun began to set during the second half, thankfully I had my secret weapon to keep my hands warm and my sanity in check, Cadbury’s hot chocolate.
And for the second half, I needed it. Arsenal decided to wake up and launch a flurry of attacks at the Huddersfield defense, and finally in the 83rd minute Lucas Torreira bicycle-kicked the winner, not that I saw it of course because of the fans who had been standing for a good three or four minutes.
With the final whistle blown after just the eight minutes of stoppage time, it was time to file off my report and head down to the press conference room, which is right next to the press lounge.
The Press Conference
The press conference is often regarded as the highlight of covering a Premier League game as it is your time to shine and to ask the managers questions and concerns about the match that just took place.
Press conferences have provided some of my favorite moments as a Premier League reporter. From asking Sam Allardyce my first ever question to getting a handshake from Arsene Wenger in his final home game as manager of Arsenal. Today, though, was just another standard conference with Unai Emery.
With the end of the press conference done and my quotes piece filed away, my day is done, and it was time to hike back to Southend and pray the trains were actually running on time.