Welcome to a continuation on new series on The 94th Minute, called “Starting XI”. This is where I ask various people, who are involved in football in some manner, eleven questions to get to know them better! The first ten questions will differ for each person, but the eleventh and final question will always be:
“Who would be in your all-time, favourite starting XI?”
This is a question where anyone can be put into their starting eleven, whether they are famous footballers, football legends, past or unknown players who had an impact on their childhood, or even players they have played with or coached. Anyone is acceptable in their XI!
The fifth installment of the series is an interview with a man of many talents, “The Angling Rev” Stewart Bloor. He is currently The New Saints’ Media and Communications Officer, but is often being seen leading football-themed services at Tipton Family Church. However he is most famous for his angling videos, and can be often seen at a canal or river bank fishing giving his best angling (and life) tips. Finally, he has his own personal blog, The Angling Rev, which he started in July 2003 and regularly updates with fishing, football or personal blogs and videos! It can be found at: https://theanglingrev.com/
1. Thank you very much for appearing on my “Starting XI” series, I’m really pleased to have you on here! Firstly, let’s start from the beginning – what is your earliest football memory? Was there a specific moment in your childhood that got you hooked into football?
Although I can’t remember it, my first encounter with football was a visit to Molineux in 1963, when Stan Cullis was still on the throne.
Memory-wise, I can remember playing in the 1960’s for my primary school as well as watching games involving Wolves.
2. So how did you first get involved with The New Saints?
It’s a long story but one day when Wolves (I was a season ticket holder of many years at the time) were away, I was flicking through the channels and came across ‘Sgorio’ on S4C. I watched the game, liked what I saw, and then the next step was to see a live match. Park Hall is my closest ground (I live near Wolverhampton), so I went to a game one evening.
I loved it and started to go to watch The New Saints when I could. The club was starting a radio commentary show and I randomly got nominated for that. I went along and was asked if I would go back and the rest, as they say, is history.
It led to a career change and a full-time job.
3. You are currently the Media & Communications Officer for TNS. What are your roles and what does your job entail throughout the week?
Variety is the spice of life sums up what I do. I can be involved in anything from monitoring social media to covering activities at a school with TNS Foundation (the club’s charitable wing), to dealing with media requests and meetings plus, of course, match day duties. There’s a lot that you see but also much more that goes on behind the scenes.
I work seven days a week, although not eight hours each day, obviously, but the job does span the full week.
4. What is your favourite part of the role, and the worst part of it also?
I enjoy frontline media. We recently had our end-of-season celebration evening, followed the next day by our Academy presentation, and I hosted both of those. I do the pre-match press conferences with our manager, Scott Ruscoe, and the post-match interviews, and I enjoy that sort of thing very much.
In terms of what I do, I don’t dislike anything. Whether it’s commentating on TNS Radio during a game or working through the club’s Twitter notifications, it’s all good!
5. What has been your most memorable / favourite moment with TNS so far?
There have been so many! Although I didn’t realise it at the time, the first TNS Radio game against Rhyl was the beginning of the journey, so that will always be special. My first UEFA Champions League (game) in the Faroe Islands was a great experience. Getting to know players on a personal level is also up there, as I enjoy being around them.
6. How do you regard TNS’s season this year? Certainly a very impressive season with the club, winning the league-cup double once again!
Impressive indeed! It’s been a tough season, which is all positive as it shows the ongoing development of the domestic league. We lost the odd battle along the way but we won the war and that’s what counts!
7. As someone working within Welsh football, what is your opinion on Welsh league football currently? Do you think it is in a good position and looking positive for the future?
Although I’m English (and very proud of that, by the way), I’m also equally proud of my Welsh roots, so working in the domestic game has an added attraction on that front. I am a fan of Welsh league football and not just courtesy of working in the top flight. My groundhopping adventures have taken me to many places across the country. Whether the Millennium Stadium watching our national side or a playing field in a tiny village somewhere, it’s all good.
I think the domestic game is improving and there is much optimism for the future. I wish more Welsh football fans would get behind the league and the teams though. What goes under the banner of ‘banter’ is often very negative and doesn’t do any good at all. We need to build not destroy!
Plus, you get regular comments about random players that should be playing at a higher level (in England). I’d like to see Welsh football promoted so that we see ourselves for what we are, a national league in our own right, not a feeder set-up for tier three or four across the border.
8. Stepping away from Wales for a moment, what do you make of Wolves’ return season in the English Premier League? Has it exceeded your expectations?
It’s been brilliant! However, it’s not been a total surprise to me personally though, as I could see that there was something very special indeed going on. I was at the Wolves’ end of season awards night recently, for the second year on the bounce, as a guest. I loved it and although I’m more of a ‘distant’ fan now, as opposed to a season ticket holder before I began working for The New Saints, it’s still special to be around the club in whatever capacity.
The awards night was great by the way, walking in on the red carpet with VIP treatment. You never know where life takes you and for me, in many ways, I feel that the journey of football media is just starting.
9. As you mentioned previously, you are a very keen groundhopper also. What has been your favourite ground you have visited so far, and is there a particular ground you are looking forward to visiting next season?
I’ve seen football is 15 nations and the European adventures with The New Saints are all special, so any of those grounds. I do love the Welsh ‘ticks’ though, so whether Llandyrnog United, Pwllheli or Ysceifiog, they’ve all been great. I’m as happy watching a game on a playing field as one on the big stage. It’s all football and it’s all good.
Two places that are very much on my to-visit list are Betws-y-Coed and Barmouth (& Dyffryn United). I’m hoping to do both of those next season.
10. You have obtained a very impressive football memorabilia collection during your journeys, but what would you say is your most prized possession within the collection? Which one item would you save if you could?
My memorabilia collection is highly personal and follows my adventures in the beautiful game. Every item carries a personal story and has meaning. For example, I’ve got Greg Draper’s boots that he wore when he netted his 100th JD Welsh Premier League goal and Mike Wilde’s shirt when he scored a Champions League hat-trick against B36 Torshavn, which was my first game in that competition with The New Saints.
I get as many items signed as possible and when I ask people to autograph they don’t ask me who I am and what’s my name, they just do it. That’s what I mean about it being personal and special!
11. Finally, and most importantly, what is your all-time, favourite Starting XI?
I’m going to take a particular angle on this and list the Leeds United team from when I was a child. I have more than a soft spot for Leeds and I guess I’ve always been one of those people that supports a number of teams. I may be the only person in the world who likes both Leeds and Wolves!
Anyway, here you go and all from memory with no hesitation:
- Gary Sprake
- Paul Reaney
- Terry Cooper
- Billy Bremner
- Jack Charlton
- Norman Hunter
- Peter Lorimer
- Allan Clarke
- Mick Jones
- Johnny Giles
- Eddie Gray
Plus, I must add Madeley as well. It arouses emotion just listing those names.
A massive thank you to Stewart for being a guest in the Starting XI series! I am very honoured to have him answering my questions, as he was one of the people on my initial ‘wanted list’ to interview! To follow The Rev or view his blogsite, the links are below:
- Website: https://theanglingrev.com/
- Twitter: @TheAnglingRev
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheAnglingRev/
To read my previous Starting XI episode, where I interviewed Scottish-based groundhopper, The Fitba Nomad, it can be found HERE.
If there you have any feedback, comments or suggestions who I should interview next in the series, let me know either below in the comments box, tweet me @The94thMin or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! It would be good to hear what you think about the series so far!
In addition to the new podcast channel, which has been set up, it can now be found on Google Podcasts and iTunes, the links are below (I hope to have a podcast out soon!):
- Google: https://www.google.com/podcasts?feed=aHR0cHM6Ly9hbmNob3IuZm0vcy9iMTc4NDA0L3BvZGNhc3QvcnNz
- iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-94th-minute-podcast/id1462582018?uo=4