From the Chairboys to the press box
Life as a lower league footballer isn’t quite as luxurious as that of a Premier League star. At some stage, you have to start thinking of the future. Wycombe midfielder Matt Bloomfield is something of a rarity in the modern game in that he is already planning for life after football, writes Josey Webb.
With a lot of footballers thinking they can play on forever, Bloomfield is realistic and wants to be fully prepared for that day when it eventually arrives. Along with a number of other lower league players including Burnley’s Clarke Carlisle, former Republic of Ireland international Kevin Kilbane and Wycombe teammate Kevin Betsy, Bloomfield has undertaken a Professional Sports Writing and Broadcasting degree at Staffordshire University.
Run in conjunction with the Professional Footballers’ Association and run by former Sheffield Wednesday defender Lawrie Madden, the course is designed around the players’ training schedules and aims to teach them media skills in order to stay involved with the game when they hang up their boots, something Bloomfield admits was a big draw.
“The best thing about the course is that it gives you the opportunity to stay in football,” he said, “Hopefully you get to write about something you know a lot about, because you’ve been doing it all your life. I see it as a natural progression and a way of getting a qualification and setting myself up for the rest of my career doing something I enjoy.”
“I’m not exactly sure what I want to do at the moment,” Bloomfield continued. “I’m just looking to do as well as I can with my qualification and through my work experience find out exactly what I’m good at, what I enjoy doing and hopefully from there it will lead to a job.”
Still only 27, the Ipswich-born player could still have another decade left on the field but, as he is well aware, you just never know what is going to happen in the game.
He said: “In football nowadays you can’t start planning too young. I’ve had a couple of bad injuries already in my career and it gives you that realism that it might be all over in an instant and what are you going to do next?”
“This is something that interests me and after speaking to Lawrie (Madden) about it in various interviews, he suggested I give it a try and I thought it might be something that I’d be good at.”
In association with the PFA, the course caters for each player’s individual schedule in order to get more players involved, and Bloomfield said if it wasn’t for this then things would have been hard for him.
He added: “When it first started, you had to come up to Stoke-on-Trent twice a week and living 150 miles away in Reading it was going to be difficult for me. But they’ve changed it now, allowing me to do it alongside the day job and come in for a week in the summer.”
On the field, Wycombe are involved in a battle for League Two promotion and sit in third position only one point ahead of Shrewsbury with two games remaining.
However, with only six points separating them from Gillingham in seventh, Bloomfield believes the race to join Chesterfield and Bury in League One next season will go right down to the wire.
“Even though we will do absolutely everything we can to win promotion before, it could well go down to the last game of the season,” said the former England under-19 international.
“Results at this stage of the season are thrown up that you just don’t expect and I’m sure that there will be a few more twists and turns before the end of the season. We’ve got tough games left and the other teams involved have got to play each other so we still have it in our own hands.”
“We’re definitely good enough and even though we have stuttered a little bit recently [with four draws out of five], so has everyone else. We’ve got a good squad, full of experience and people that have got promoted before and fingers crossed we can finish off the job in the remaining games.”
The long-serving midfielder, who has made over 200 appearances for the Adams Park outfit, was also full of praise for rivals Chesterfield, who have been the standout side this season.
Bloomfield said: “They have been exceptional this season. They have a great strikeforce and score goals from all over the pitch. It’s down to the rest of us to get up with them.”
It might still be a few years until we see Bloomfield in the press box but if he enjoys it as much as the course, it will definitely be with a smile on his face.
“I’ve absolutely loved it so far, all the boys have taken to it really well. We spend all day talking about sports and which ones you would love to cover. So for me it is perfect to fit it in with my current lifestyle and job.”