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THE SAM MORSHEAD COLUMN: My take on our County Ground ban
5:30am Tuesday 14th January 2014 in Sport
I TAKE no delight in what follows.
Yesterday was perhaps the lowest of my professional life. To be excluded from the club I have followed since I was in primary school and covered proudly as your correspondent for 20 months is an almighty kick in the stomach.
I was informed of Lee Power’s decision to bar the paper, and therefore me, from press conferences and the County Ground press box shortly after 9.30am. At the time of writing - many hours later - it’s not particularly easy to translate my feelings into words. And that’s odd for me, as many of you will be all too aware.
The issue Mr Power has is with two tweets I sent from my Twitter account at 1.16pm and 1.28pm on Saturday. They revolved around the availability of Nile Ranger and the fact the club had changed their mind about cancelling the striker’s contract at the County Ground.
The story was true, I had corroborated it several times earlier in the week. It came to my attention not from a high-ranking member of Swindon Town but an outside source and, as a result, I had no obligation to keep the matter quiet.
However, following conversations with one individual at Town I came to the conclusion that for the good of the club and the potential success of the team on Saturday, it would be best for all parties that on this particular occasion I bit my tongue.
This sort of thing happens from time to time in the local media. I felt it an appropriate reaction to a difficult and sensitive situation.
Forty hours after first being made aware of the story on Thursday evening, rumours were raging on social media that Ranger was playing against Peterborough.
Knowing the rumours were true, I went on Twitter to find a fan who had been on a stadium tour that lunchtime - at 12.30pm - and had seen Ranger’s shirt hanging in the Swindon dressing room. For the record, I know the fan personally and would vouch for the authenticity of his remark.
With the news now in the public domain I became obliged to report what I knew - I do not know of another journalist who would not have done the same.
I do not believe any breach of trust occurred at any time.
It has since been suggested that because of my tweet Posh manager Darren Ferguson changed his starting XI for the game. Whether or not that is true I don’t know.
What I do know is Ranger posted a picture of himself in his training kit on Instagram at around 1.30pm with the caption ‘I’m back’.
What I do know is I did not set out with malicious intent to harm Town’s chances of beating Peterborough - I’ve been a part of this club in one way or another for 19 years, why would I?
What I do know is, though the club may feel I am too much trouble to have around, I have stuck by every journalistic guideline I can think of.
I have not been flavour of the month at the County Ground many times, it’s not my job to be, but I have always tried to maintain a relationship with the club because, ultimately, the readers of the Adver have remained as loyal to local journalism as they have to Swindon Town down the years and they don’t deserve to get caught in the middle of such a spat.
I, and the rest of the sports team at the Advertiser, will continue to bring you the best possible independent coverage of your club - be it from near or afar.
I look forward to mixing it with the rest of you in the stands for home games and getting plenty of fan opinion into the paper in the absence of access to the management and players.
Your Advertiser won’t change. I think that is the most important statement of all.
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