Student in focus: Alex Boyd (Tales from the Training Ground)
In the second of our series of posts exploring the journalistic work that our students complete alongside their studies, Alex Boyd offers an overview of his role producing Tales from the Training Ground:
I’m Alex Boyd, and together with three of my coursemates I produce ‘Tales from the Training Ground’, a bi-weekly video series in association with Mary Williams, The Northern Blues and Portsmouth FC kitman Kev McCormack.
The whole idea behind what we do is to provide insight and trivia about Pompey to the followers of The Northern Blues, a Pompey FC supporters club based throughout the Midlands and the North of England. We aim to bring these fans closer to the south coast and to the club in a way that isn’t complicated by geography.
Myself, Ollie Marsh, Oskar Scarsbrook and Sean Walsh are all second-year single honours Journalism students. Last summer, Journalism course leader Mary Williams asked if we would be responsible for filming and editing the short videos ready for posting onto The Northern Blues website.
It would be unfair not to mention that Mary organised the partnership with the club and with The Northern Blues, and that she’s a massive part of what we produce.
Tales from the Training Ground centres on the stories of ‘Kev the Kitman’. In my mind there’s no better man for it, Kev’s been at the club since the late 90s, and in the context of Pompey FC that’s quite an achievement. He’s seen it all and that shows through the stories he tells, it’s fascinating to listen to.
It’s our job to organise a time to sit down with Kev, usually we convene at Fratton Park and film a bulk of three or four episodes at a time. In all honesty as a football man I love the perk of being able to film in places like the dressing room and the dugout. The four of us will normally take turns in asking Kev a series of questions, which we try and do thematically for each episode.
Most of our episodes focus on Kev’s personal memories of highs and lows at the club. The FA Cup victory, European football and Premier League away days are great content for the fans, but Kev speaks equally passionately about both these and the lower points in the last decade. He’s just as big of a fan as anyone, and I think that’s what makes the series what it is.
In terms of set-up we aren’t Oscar winning. We rent out a handycam, tripod and a mic from Journalism resources, with Ollie sometimes bringing along an iPad for a second angle. But I think this adds to the feel of what we’re trying to produce, the raw connection between the club and the fans.
Obviously, the experience of getting regular interview practice with Kev is invaluable as a journalist. I think the main thing to take away from our first few episodes to where we are now is just how important it is to make your interviewee at ease. It just produces better answers to your questions.
Getting work published regularly that is more than just print work also goes far in demonstrating that the four of us are able to transfer what we learn in lectures onto a variety of different platforms.
Working with The Northern Blues and Portsmouth FC has really helped both my professional and journalistic skills, and given me great real world experience.