In 1980 I was a sports reporter on the Lancashire Evening Post. I’d been there six years. I’d joined them as a junior reporter, straight from school as an 18-year-old. So I had six years under my belt as a journalist on a local paper, and I’d got to a point where I thought I was doing quite well and I was looking to find another job. I felt like I needed to move on from the Lancashire Evening Post, but at 24 I was too young to get a writing job on the nationals, although I was doing shifts as a sub on the Daily Express from time to time. I didn’t want to do that. I was completely baffled as to what I was going to do, because I wanted to stay in newspapers. I loved newspapers.
One day somebody put an advert on my desk in front of me and it was for a researcher in the sports department at Granada. I just completely dismissed it. I didn’t want to work in television, I wanted to be a newspaper man. But I was persuaded that actually, this might be a really good opportunity, and when I looked at the ad it was quite encouraging. So I applied for it, not with any thought that I would get it, and I got an interview and went along and met this really fearsome man called Paul Doherty, who I had actually seen at football matches. I was covering Blackburn Rovers for the Lancashire Evening Post – you know, I was covering quite a decent level of football. It was the old second division, what would be the Championship now, and I’d actually seen this guy in one or two press boxes. You know, in press rooms at half time when you’re having a cup of tea and a cake or something. I kind of knew vaguely who he was, and he was a very imposing character. He was very, very tall.
Anyway, I did this interview and then I was called back for another interview, at which I took a whole sheaf of cuttings of things that I’d written over the previous twelve months. So I kind of dumped all this on them and said, this is my output. And apparently he found that impressive, and the fact that I was in the region and knew the football clubs, was a Manchester United supporter, and I was very well up on the lower league clubs as well. To my amazement I got the job….that was 1980. And I think I started at Granada right at the start of that year. So I would have been interviewed in 1979 I guess, and then I started in Quay Street in 1980, I think it was February.