Best seats in the house: award-winner reports from NFL International Series at Wembley

Tom Mellor

NCTJ award-winner and former St Mary’s University student Tom Mellor reports from the Wembley press box while covering the NFL International Series.

When I found out I’d won the opportunity to go and report from the NFL International Series at Wembley it was a bit of a shock. Firstly because the difficulty of the exam meant I’d never considered achieving a mark high enough to warrant such a prize and secondly because my chosen career path meant I hadn’t written a match report in well over a year.

Nevertheless, with a bit of revision and some scrubbing up on American Football terminology I traveled down to Wembley full of excitement and eager to get going.

The experience was nothing short of awesome. Whether it was skipping the crowds, having perfect seats or even the free food in the media room, the exclusivity of it all couldn’t help but go to my head.

As much as I love association football, there is nothing quite like the spectacle of the NFL and once the game got going it was difficult to take my eyes off the pitch and focus on the job at hand. Luckily I had the screen on my desk to catch the replays of anything I missed (another brilliant perk).

The joy of American Football for a reporter is its length. Three hours is a long time to write a match report and the constant stoppages in play give you ample time to refine sections of your writing. Never did I feel I was up against it, something I regularly felt when attempting to complete a football report in time for the final whistle.

That said, the teaching I received during my NCTJ training stood me good stead, from understanding how to structure the report to knowing how to effectively manage my time.

I stayed for a while after the final whistle to wait for the stadium to empty. Looking out upon the arena, all still and quiet, I knew this was an experience that I will cherish for a long time.

Read Tom’s match report on the NFL UK website.