GARETH DAVIS, a football fan who has enjoyed various press-based roles in the beautiful game, answers Gavin Caney’s questions
So Gareth, why football and what are your earliest memories?
My dad and grandad were both big football fans so I was always going to get it from them. Dad used to take me to games with his works team when I was little, and we started going to professional games in January 1989.
Derby finished fifth in the top flight that year – it’s all been downhill since then! That 1988/89 season was so memorable for good and bad reasons and I have been hooked ever since.
When did you develop a passion and interest in writing and has it always been about penning football-based content?
I really can’t remember what made me want to get into journalism, but it was always a target of mine while I was growing up and covering football was the natural ambition.
My writing started with pieces for Matlock Town’s fanzine in the early 1990s and I wanted to work in newspapers. Covering Matlock and/or Derby were the dreams and I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to do both of those things.
These days, I also enjoy writing about my travel experiences and have self-published a book about my trips to New York.
You earned your stripes on local newspapers. What did you gain from that role and how important do you feel these publications remain for communities?
Local newspapers should be an integral part of their communities. The industry was thriving when I was at the Matlock Mercury and I was fortunate to work with a great team over several years, covering some high-profile national and international stories.
The decline of the newspaper industry and the closure of local offices is a real shame, with many towns woefully unrepresented. That said, it’s great to see King’s Lynn bucking that trend and having a strong local media presence. I remain fiercely proud of my local newspaper days.
After working for Derby County, the club you support, you penned your first book in 2007. Was it always a dream to be a published author?
Writing a book wasn’t a ‘must do’ in my younger years but it was definitely a ‘would like to do’ and Derby’s promotion in 2007 was a natural opportunity to tick it off.
That gave me a real drive to produce more in the future, which I did manage to do.
How to sum up working for Derby County? Interesting! They were great years, with experiences I’ll never repeat, and again I count myself lucky to have done what I did there. But you also had to be professional and treat it as a job first and foremost, not a jolly at the club you support.
When you moved to the area in 2013, you soon became Fakenham Town’s press officer. Tell us a little about what holding a role like that at a local non-league club entails.
That was a great few years and being with Fakenham was one of my favourite experiences in football. It was so very rewarding and really made me feel a part of something.
I’ve worked with clubs at all levels and my time with Fakenham really opened my eyes to the massively important role volunteers play at such clubs.
It was a brilliant team, on and off the pitch, and such a great group of people who welcomed me and treated me like I’d been around the club for years. So many people put so much hard work in at that level but it goes unrecognised, although they do it for the love of the game and not in search of glory.
You don’t mind watching one of your local grassroot sides Sutton Bridge United either. What’s the appeal about action at that level?
I think it goes back to that feeling of being part of something. As a football fan you need to have your ‘home’, that place you go every Saturday to be with like-minded people, rather than just watching games with no connection to the clubs involved.
At Sutton Bridge it’s been great to get to know people, to understand who the players are, and I’ve enjoyed tweeting about matches too. Saturday is always football day and I’ll be over at Memorial Park as often as I can be.
You were one of a fair few lucky people locally, like myself, who managed to watch England in person at the Euros, including the final. How was that experience?
Fortunately we didn’t see any of the trouble either. If we had then that would really have taken away from the experience, although the England fan in me is still too pained at losing the final to really take in just how big an occasion it was and how lucky I was to be there.
I went to the opening group match against Croatia too, as well as the second round against Germany. That Germany game ranks as one of my top five favourite experiences in all of my football-watching years.
Finally, it’s proofreading and copy editing that takes up much of your time now. What’s the best part of that role and do you have any future plans for more publishing of your own?
What I enjoy the most about the job is that in many cases you’re helping people realise their ambitions in terms of publishing their books, and you’re trusted with something they’ve spent many months and years working on. It’s a big responsibility and one I relish.
Each book is a new challenge and I enjoy working with so many different authors. I’d still like to write more in the future, I think ghosting someone’s autobiography would be a brilliant project, but I don’t have any plans for that at the moment.
The facts are…
Name: Gareth Davis
Date of birth: 24 May 1980
Birth place: Derby
Grew up in: Matlock, Derbyshire
Favourite book: Back from the Brink by Paul McGrath
First book published: Derby County 2007 Season Review
Club(s) supported: Derby County, Matlock Town, Fakenham Town, Sutton Bridge United
Sporting hero: Brian Clough
• After Derby County won the 2007 Championship play-off final, Gareth ended up taking the trophy home to his flat. Stephen Pearson scored the only goal of the game to defeat West Brom.
• Aged 12, Davis fielded for a full Derbyshire cricket first team in captain Kim Barnett’s testimonial match.
• For five years he was the ‘voice’ of Matlock Town Football Club – who currently play at Step Three of the non-League pyramid – as the stadium announcer.
• A couple of months ago, the former Fakenham Town FC press officer was interviewed on BBC Radio Derby about aliens!
• Family history research found that he’s a direct descendant of Sir Isaac Newton.
Restaurant or takeaway?
Film or series?
Bath or shower?
Tea or coffee?
Sweet or savoury?
Summer or winter?
Day or night?
Holiday or staycation?
Favourite food: Steak
Least favourite food: The list is too long to mention!
Favourite TV programme: Only Fools and Horses
Least favourite TV programme: Mrs Brown’s Boys
Favourite band/musician: Queen
Least favourite band/musician: Coldplay
Favourite film: Ghostbusters
Least favourite film: Gravity
Answers in italics