Monday, 22 Jul 2024

Nige Tassell Q&A: Author and Freelance Football Writer

Nige Tassell is a renowned author and freelance football writer who has made a name for himself in the sports journalism industry. With a background in music journalism, Nige transitioned into writing about football in 2013 and hasn’t looked back since. His first book, “The Bottom Corner,” delves into the world of non-league football and received high praise from critics. Since then, he has published several more books, including his latest work, “Field Of Dreams: 100 Years Of Wembley In 100 Matches,” which explores the rich history of England’s national stadium. Nige’s expertise extends beyond books, as he has also written for prestigious publications such as The Guardian, The Sunday Times, GQ, and The Blizzard.

When did your passion for football writing begin?

Nige’s passion for football writing started at a young age. Even as a ten-year-old, he was captivated by the North American Soccer League of the late 70s, which he chose as his primary school project instead of the suggested topic of the local police force. Fast forward to 2013, when he made his debut as a football writer for FourFourTwo, shortly after publishing his first book. This opportunity allowed him to establish credibility in the sports writing industry and paved the way for his successful career.

How did your music journalism background influence your approach to football writing?

Coming from a background in music journalism, Nige brought a fresh perspective to football writing. Instead of following the conventional path of match reporting, he focused on profiling and capturing the stories of individuals involved in football. He believes that people are at the heart of every story, and his approach has resonated with readers and enriched his writing.

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What drives your productivity in writing a book every year?

Nige’s productivity is fueled by both his passion for writing and the practicalities of his profession. As a freelancer, he needs to consistently produce work to support his family and maintain a steady income. With a naturally quick work pace, he finds it comfortably achievable to complete a book each year. However, quality remains a priority, and he ensures that every book is meticulously researched and of high caliber.

How did your interest in non-league football develop?

Nige’s interest in non-league football was sparked during his final year of university when Colchester United achieved the remarkable feat of winning both the Conference and the FA Trophy. Despite having a limited understanding of the non-league world, this unique experience piqued his curiosity. It allowed him to approach his book, “The Bottom Corner,” with a fresh perspective, unburdened by excessive historical knowledge. His clean slate mindset enabled him to fully immerse himself in the non-league football culture.

What are your thoughts on the growing popularity of non-league football in the UK?

The increased popularity of non-league football in recent years is seen by Nige as a positive development. It presents an alternative to the high-profile, money-driven top tiers of the football pyramid. Non-league matches offer a grassroots experience that can be enjoyed without the distractions of exorbitant financial investments and VAR controversies. Nige appreciates the authentic and down-to-earth nature of non-league football, making it a welcome respite from the commercialization of the sport.

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What have been the most unusual jobs you’ve come across while writing your books?

During his research for his book on the Championship, titled “The Hard Yards,” Nige had the opportunity to interview Jon Pearce, Birmingham City’s kitman. This behind-the-scenes glimpse into the meticulous logistics involved in managing the team’s kits was fascinating. Nige also finds scouts to be intriguing figures, as they constantly search for new talent, never resting until they discover the next star player. These unique perspectives shed light on the lesser-known roles within the football industry.

How did the pandemic affect your vision for your book on the 2020/21 Championship season?

The pandemic presented a significant challenge for Nige as he covered the 2020/21 Championship season for his book. There was uncertainty regarding whether the season would be abandoned, which could have jeopardized the completion of his book and led to financial repercussions. Fortunately, football persevered, and despite the matches being played behind closed doors initially, fans returned towards the end of the season. This unexpected turn of events transformed the book into a reflection of a distinct period in history, offering readers a glimpse into the unusual circumstances surrounding the season.

What was the most enjoyable game to write about in your book on Wembley Stadium? How did you select the matches to include?

Nige thoroughly enjoyed writing about the earlier matches at Wembley, specifically those played between the wars. These matches provided him with captivating stories and insights. One memorable chapter focused on the iconic “White Horse Final” in 1923, where Nige shared his personal connection through his grandfather’s involvement as a ticket-holding member of the crowd. Selecting the matches for the book was a meticulous process, ensuring a balanced representation of Wembley’s history throughout the ages. Although it was impossible to include every significant match, Nige aimed to capture the essence of Wembley’s journey.

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What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

As a writer, Nige is subject to the demands and preferences of publishers. Sometimes, his ideas don’t align with what publishers are seeking, which can be disheartening. However, over time, Nige has learned how to better understand their expectations, making it easier to pitch ideas that resonate with them. Despite the challenges, seeing his books on shelves and knowing that his work will have a lasting impact gives him great satisfaction.

What advice would you give to aspiring football writers?

Nige’s advice for aspiring football writers is to write consistently, develop a unique voice, and be proactive. By dedicating time to honing their craft and generating their own ideas, writers can make themselves indispensable to editors. Persistence and self-belief are crucial in this industry, as rejection is inevitable. However, with the right mindset and creative thinking, aspiring writers can forge a successful career in football journalism.

For more insights from Nige Tassell, follow him on Twitter. To delve into the rich history of Wembley Stadium, grab a copy of his latest book, “Field Of Dreams: 100 Years Of Wembley In 100 Matches.”