Our next TEB interview is one with a difference as we put our questions to Mark Ritson as many of you will know as a journalist for the Croydon Advertiser. We thank Mark for his time talking to us.
Q. How did you get into journalism and was it always your aim to cover football?
I wanted to be a sports journalist since the age of 14. Football has always been a love of mine, so I wanted to get into the media side. However, I always wanted to be a professional too like any other young lad. I did A-Level Media Studies, English Language and PE before doing a degree in journalism. Work experience is key as well, so do as much as you can.
Q. Who did you support as a kid?
My first shirt was an Everton one because my Dad supported them. However, I loved watching clips of Paul Gascoigne and Gary Lineker, so I began supporting Tottenham. After the Jurgen Klinsmann era, I was hooked. Half my family though support Palace and the other half Charlton. My Mum and Grandparents are from Sydenham, yet I was taken to watch Charlton with cousins when I could not get to Tottenham games.
Q. What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I did a lot of fun stuff when I worked at the Daily Star a few years back, interviewing and videoing celebrities and models. I then moved into football journalism when I left there and I guess working my way up from non-league to League One, then the Championship and Premier League has been a thoroughly enjoyable journey. Some fans might not know that I worked for Charlton in their media department in the season they won the League One title two years ago. I then got the job for the Advertiser, so to enjoy further success twelve months on with Palace winning promotion has been fantastic in my career. And of course, the Premier League is brilliant to work in.
Q. Which Palace player have you enjoyed talking to the most?
First off, they are all great to work with. None are a pain or arrogant. In two years I have seen players come and go, yet Julian Speroni is a lovely, lovely man and great. Jonny Williams is always very polite and as I know his Dad. I must say he has been brought up superbly. I could name many more, the likes of Peter Ramage, Scott Dann, Adrian Mariappa, Mile Jedinak are all nice to interview. Damien Delaney is a funny guy too at times. He comes out with some great quotes. In terms of previous players, both Kevin Phillips and Aaron Wilbraham spring to mind.
Q. What do you find the most rewarding part of your job?
That my interviews are read by lots of passionate fans. At the end of the day, I am a football man, I am a fan of the sport. I like to bring whatever news I can. Another part is travelling around the country on a matchday to provide a service for the local area but also fans in other countries who cannot get to games.
Q. What do you make of the great strides the club have made since 2010?
Having started my job in 2012, I do not know too much from the previous two years, but I remember the big game at Sheffield Wednesday for Palace to stay up. The gradual progression of a club the size of Palace is staggering. The owners have to take a lot of credit for the way they go about their business. If they had the spending power of Manchester City, I am sure they would improve things over night, but to gradually build it up over four years has been impressive.
Q. In your time covering Palace, who do you consider the best player to have pulled on the shirt?
Wilfried Zaha. Simply the best player in the Championship during my first season covering Palace. Had heard about him previously but that season was explosive. The away game up at Wolves in October when he scored two goals sticks out for me as taking real notice of him. Then after that, the skill to bamboozle full-backs was sensational.
Q. Do you get much interaction with local media for other clubs around the country?
Sometimes, it depends really. If you need a favour with a photo, background information on the opposition, then yes. But generally I do my research in good time.
Q. How do you pass the time on the long journeys up and down the country travelling to away games?
I always take a few CD’s for the car. I’m into all music I guess, but house, garage, hip-hop and RnB keep me bopping and entertained. I have also stopped off at many service stations and purchased many sandwiches. I have done a few weekenders too and it has been great to see a few cities.
Q. What is your view on fan sites like ours and the possible effect it has on journalism and the game itself?
I think fan sites are great because they are for the fans. I do believe it should be about fan blogs, away day experiences and features. However, I do think that news articles should be left to the media, instead of some regurgitating of what we have done.
Q. And finally … tell us anything that you’d like to promote or share with our readers.
I am always keen to hear from Palace fans who may want a feature on them or want to interact in some way for the paper or website. Building up the social media side of things is always helpful too. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram but also the Advertiser Sport account on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.