One poster yesterday seemed to think that my story about Alan Curbishely and Villa was made up, so that is a good opportunity to talk about sources. Incidentally, I don't think that Curbs will get the Villa job but he did think it was worth putting himself in the frame - and why not?
I am now probably better networked into Midlands football than I am at Charlton. I do quite a lot of work for television, radio and print media up here, none of it paid - which gives me some favours I can call in.
Two concrete examples (neither of them the source for the Villa story). On Bank Holiday Sunday, Sky News rang me up. I knew then that it was a slow news day: once they had me in front of the Shakespeare birthplace in Stratford talking about Englishness in front of gawking Japanese tourists.
Anyway, they wanted to do a piece on Swansea City and who should be on the satellite truck as reporter but Darren whose wife is our digital productions manager and for whom I do pieces from time to time. For example, she came over to Boston Ma. with us to film some stories there.
Last week I did a long interview for the Coventry Evening Telegraph on Coventry City. This gave me a full set of their accounts which I was able to use on my football economy page.
My sources at Charlton were better during the Curbishley era. On one occasion I stood in for Sir Rick Everitt writing the match reports when His Rickness went on holiday to Australia. One glamour assignment was covering an away reserve match at Wantage (Oxford United) on a freezing night, the tedium only being relieved by Mark Bright being booked by referee Wendy Toms.
I was one of Alan Curbishley's kit sponsors and I made sure that he had a supply of quality champagne to celebrate good wins (one he cited was the away win at West Brom which was possibly some of the best football I ever saw us play, well for 30 minutes anyway). Curbs would tell me things, not major secrets, but material I could use as unattributed background.
Richard Murray held a briefing for bloggers. This was after Curbs had left, but was very informative about the series of events that led to the appointment of rocket scientist Iain Dowie.
I also had a source in the press office during this period (no longer at the club). He would give me occasional stories and I was well aware that the reason for doing this was to fly kites and see what the reaction was. More recently, I did get a story from a friend of a player.
However, I would have to say that I cannot give as authoritative a news service as in the past. As I am now getting involved in the governance of Leamington FC, I may not be able to get to The Valley as much as in the past. But I will be launching a new third division diary when I get time later in the summer.
This will be an austerity model in line with the mood at The Valley and the call to 'tighten our belts' from the likes of Ken Clarke as featured on a recent Private Eye cover. When I started watching Charlton sweets and chocolate were still rationed. Then, suddenly all the misery was gone and I am hoping for a similar emergence to better times at The Valley.
As for the Curbs story, I think it was plausible and well founded. I have only just picked this up, but Talksport had an interview on Friday with a former Villa defender recommending Curbs.