Nicola Adam column

I once did not recognise Alan Shearer.
I once did not recognise Alan Shearer.

Balls, balls, balls.

Round balls, tiny white balls, slightly oval balls, yellow balls, red balls and not to forget big wet balls, usually sponsored by Umbro.

All of these balls I have had a love/hate relationship with since the start of my career in journalism.

It’s just where balls are concerned, I am not considered an expert.

I was barely a trainee reporter when it was decided, possibly when I asked what a ‘skipper’ was, that I am not sport-inclined. (It’s not just a bloke on a boat, apparently)

News, crime, features, politics – no problem.

Games involving round objects, or where people hit each other or run really fast, it was officially decreed I was best left out of it.

Of course, the reality was, because I knew nothing much about football – and this is England – I was written off as ‘non-sporty’ by fellow journalists who knew better.

Okay, there was a tiny bit of justification for this opinion, I grant you.

Like, the time I met – and failed to recognise – Alan Shearer and Kenny Dalglish for one.

When I was asked to count Preston North End corners from the press box and I confirmed there were four, obviously.

And my statement in


the newsroom that ‘David Beckham does good kicks’ gained me a fair amount of ridicule. (Though 100% accurate, I would argue.) To be fair, I was shamed by a senior exec and my own reporter at Morecambe FC only last week when I called a replica shirt a ‘t-shirt’ (which it is..)

But not sporty?

Mmmmm.

As a person who only jumped out of the competitive swimming pool at age 23 after a career competing across the country and further afield at the national level, it rankles a little, I can’t lie.

To be called non-sporty by people who spent Saturday nights in watching football on TV while I was swimming training – or kicking a ball about on Sunday while I worked on my secondary career as a competitive gymnast – is annoying.

But even after 15 years as a journalist, and becoming acquainted with a number of football clubs, managers and players in this time, I admit I am not an expert on that particular sport, or any of the other ball-shaped ones.

I really enjoy watching football, golf seems pleasant and cricket looks lovely, but in a pub quiz I would fail to impress.

I will never know the off-side rule, what a skipper is, or be able to reel off football stats or jargon. There will always be just the four corners.

But give me a pool, some lane ropes and a starting pistol – and you’ll not see me for dust.

Non-sporty?

What a load of balls.