Melton Times Sports Editor’s blog: SOS! Sportswriter gets the winter blues

A wintry scene at Asfordby Amateurs - not so pretty if you're a sports journalist EMN-160119-131221002
A wintry scene at Asfordby Amateurs - not so pretty if you're a sports journalist EMN-160119-131221002
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But occasionally writing for a local or regional paper can prove a thankless task.

In the main, journalists on weeklies will measure a lack of complaints or grumbles as a positive yardstick that your work has passed muster for another seven days.

Compliments are cherished gems and as rare as warm toes on a winter afternoon’s touchline duty.

But it’s this subject of the weather which is the real bane of every local sportswriter’s life.

For myself and similarly cursed colleagues everywhere, unlike the scene outside, we are now approaching the usual seasonal drought.

After weeks and months of rain so persistent it would make Noah give up the ghost, the copy tray and bank of stand-by stories are beginning to look increasingly threadbare.

For week after week we have dipped into the reserves of alternative story ideas, photo archives, and miscellaneous gubbins to fill acres of column inches left vacant by postponements.

At this time of year we become obsessed by weather bulletins, and fixated by Met Office five-day forecasts, particularly as the weekend approaches.

Waterlogged pitches are a killer in summer as whole cricket leagues run for cover, but in winter at least rugby and hockey remain undaunted.

But ice and snow are the real game changers.

Big freezes are total write-offs for schedules, even on dubiously-named all-weather pitches.

Snow, meanwhile, brings double jeopardy.

Not only does it cover invariably frozen pitches, when the thaw finally arrives, the collective sigh of relief is soon scuppered as the melting snow re-staurates the pitches and the cycle begins again.

But there’s no need for such concern for our cosseted national counterparts.

Not for them the Monday morning cold sweats as empty email inboxes are opened to fearful eyes.

Unfettered by local or even national boundaries, the world is literally their oyster.

And unlike the lone wolves of the local newspaper universe they have, comparatively-speaking, a small army of journalists to fill their pages.

Thinly-manned sportsdesks have to be more resourceful and resort to their imaginations to find solutions.

They may have carefully-planned features up their sleeves in case of emergency.

As the gloom lingers on and the back-ups dry up, reporters and sports editors will begin to develop a renewed interest in indoor sports, league tables and old photos.

There’s always the failsafe story about the postponements themselves, of course, illustrated by a picture or two of desolate, sodden sports grounds.

But nothing can match the ultimate barrel-scraper. Thanks for reading it.