Exciting Times working live at Anfield

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Dan Wright working at Anfield covering Liverpool's Champions League decider against Basel. Pic by Connor Dunn © JMU Journalism

Dan Wright working at Anfield covering Liverpool’s Champions League decider against Basel. Pic by Connor Dunn © JMU Journalism

It was an opportunity I would never have expected to get at such an early stage of my career, and I’ll admit – in my eyes – quite a daunting job in some respects.

So when I turned up at Anfield for Liverpool’s final Champions League group game against FC Basel, it’s safe to say I was feeling a little on edge – and that wasn’t just because I was trying my hardest to keep my Mancunian dialect under wraps whilst surrounded by thousands of Reds fans.

The fact that I am also a Manchester United supporter meant nothing on the night, I was there to be strictly impartial.

My task? To write a match report for JMU Journalism in which I would describe how Liverpool either qualified for the next round or were dumped out of the competition depending on which way the result went.

This is a dream job for so many and I can see why. There was a buzz in the air as we collected our press passes under the Shankly Gates. This was Anfield on a massive European night, and as we were sitting in the media lounge before kick-off it was an experience in itself. What could I be nervous about?

As we took to our seats, I remembered the importance of having “ice in your veins, not stars in your eyes”, which I would argue applies to most things in life.

I have to say I was fortunate that the game started slowly as this enabled me a fair amount of time to get as much colour written into the piece as possible before the key events in the match unfolded. This was a special occasion and you’d be lying if you said that the famous Kop roar of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ didn’t give you goosebumps.

Steven Gerrard scored but could not prevent Liverpool going out of the Champions League against Basel. Pic © David Rawcliffe / Propaganda Photo

Steven Gerrard scored but could not prevent Liverpool going out of the Champions League against Basel. Pic © David Rawcliffe / Propaganda Photo

However, I was also lucky that I had a colleague with me who could keep his eyes on the game as I sat furiously typing, I have to admit praying that Liverpool wouldn’t score before the final whistle after Steven Gerrard’s free-kick had levelled the game at 1-1 following Fabian Frei’s opener for Swiss visitors, Basel.

Liverpool needed victory to stay in the Champions League but couldn’t find a winner, in what was an exciting but at the same time excruciating finale for me. Had they scored, the majority of my already half-written report would have been made invalid, requiring the dreaded frantic late rewrite.

In all fairness, I wasn’t working to anywhere near as strict a deadline as the professional journalists sat in my company, but this made the experience a real eye-opener, because if I had I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have done the job nearly as well.

What I think I learned is that nothing prepares you as much as doing the real thing. And while for now these opportunities will probably remain few and far between, I have to say this was certainly one that I won’t forget any time soon.

Related articles from the JMU Journalism archives:

Dan’s match report: Reds crash out of Champions League >>

2009: Now I’m a believer in the Anfield ‘myth’ >>

2010: How hard work can change a Liverpool fan >>

2011: Kuyt kills off Sparta to send Reds through >>

2011: Behind the scenes at LFC TV >>

2013: My dream move from FIFA to Liverpool FC >>

2014: Persistence pays with job at LFC TV >>