Jon Colman: The power of a local journalist

By George Atwood

In the modern world, print media is sadly dying. Especially during a global pandemic that has seen countless local journalists furloughed and had their livelihoods taken away.

Online publications are becoming more prominent but local newspapers are still the back bone of the smaller communities.

Jon Colman, the sports reporter at the News and star, was one of the journalists who was furloughed but has since started working again covering Carlisle United.

“It was a strange time and was quite challenging to begin with, but like many people in the country I just had to adjust to it and make the best of it,” he said.

“I am glad the company brought me back to work in August.

“I know many who were not as fortunate both in journalism and other industries, so I am relieved at how it turned out in the end.”

Colman has been working in regional media for 15 years, predominately covering Carlisle United. Since returning to work after furlough he has also been helping out with coverage of Barrow AFC.

Colman’s love for Carlisle United stemmed from initially following the top clubs on TV, particularly Liverpool. Liverpool drew Carlisle in the FA Cup in 1989 at Brunton Park.

His dad took him to the match and from then on his dad started to open his eyes to his local team.

“My dad started to breed into me this idea that there is a local team on my doorstep,” he said.

“It was obviously more accessible, more local and more affordable than going to Anfield every other week and joining the throngs of people who don’t follow their local team and follow a glory team.

“He kept taking me back. It was at a time when Carlisle weren’t really in great shape down at the bottom of the fourth division but I started to realise that this is my local team.

“That there is a reason why my dad is bringing me here. Gradually you became a fan and then over time it becomes a part of your life.

“A sense of loyalty and local pride.”

As he got older the team got better and his love for the club grew stronger, standing on the Paddock with his dad every other weekend. This love for the club he now covers has never gone away and still influences his work to this day. A position that he believes he is very privileged to be in.

Colman believes that as a local reporter he should be the voice of the fans of the teams that he covers.

He has been outspoken against B teams in the EFL Trophy, Project Big Picture and the European Premier League. Both of which have a direct impact to the clubs in the lower leagues.

Colman believes the introduction of B Teams in the EFL Trophy takes away the meaning of the competition for the clubs that compete for it.

Rather than it being a way for lower league clubs to have day out at Wembley it has now become a developmental completion for the bigger clubs. The clubs with the money.

“All of my life watching Carlisle has been lower leagues, bottom two tiers,” he said.

“We’ve reached a point where for me the EFL Trophy has become a red light and a massive warning and a symptom of where football at the top level has wanted to go.

“From day one I’ve objected to it. I can’t think of another competition that has offended the very people it was created for.

“The clubs and competition are used as a convenient tool to give their younger players games.

“I think it’s quite offensive that the lower leagues’ FA Cup is no longer to preserve the lower leagues it’s something else that the Premier League has bought and marched into and used.

“I think the fans have made their feelings obvious. They’ve voted with their feet and in polls that clubs have done. Making it very very clear that they don’t want this.”

Despite all of this, nothing has changed because money talks louder than anything else. Football isn’t a game anymore. It is a way for the rich to get richer which leaves fans and clubs like Carlisle in a very precarious positon.