It's "Inside the Football Media" week at Bleacher Report and day five brings an interview with LFC TV senior presenter Claire Rourke, a Liverpool fan who landed her dream job and is loving every second of it (particularly this season).
BLEACHER REPORT: Can you start by telling us how you ended up working for Liverpool TV?
CLAIRE ROURKE: I studied broadcast journalism at University in Preston and always thought that I would specialise in sport somewhere down the line. As I graduated I was lucky enough to land a job with Real Madrid TV, so I moved to Spain to begin a new life as a sports presenter in Madrid.
I spent two fantastic years travelling the world with a massive football club and loved every minute of it—especially being there when they won the league. Then, in 2007 I was given an opportunity to return to the UK with Liverpool Football Club, the team I have supported all my life, to be a senior presenter at LFC TV. I have had some great experiences here and know there are many more to come.
B/R: Being a Liverpool fan yourself, is it hard to keep your emotions intact with so much on the line this season?
CR: I have been a Liverpool fan all my life so count myself incredibly fortunate to work for the club I support. I have had some unforgettable experiences, which as a supporter is amazing. This season has been extra special and I have to admit that emotions have got the better of me on occasions when I’ve celebrated in press boxes at various grounds!
When times are a little more testing you can take things to heart because you are a fan but ultimately I think being a fan only makes me more determined to make the LFC TV success.
B/R: Can you talk us through a typical matchday, from the moment you wake up to the moment you switch off.
CR: Every matchday is different, and this season it has been even more varied, but for a typical home match, I will tend to have prepped the night before by looking through stats and going over my script.
I will arrive at Anfield a few hours before kick-off to go through technical rehearsals with the rest of the crew. My actual position is varied on match days. I’ll either be hosting the LFC TV live build up from our studio at the ground, or be in our pitch side position for live reports; both are great as we are so close to the atmosphere with the supporters as well as the team.
During the match I’m a fan as much as anyone but still have to make plenty of notes of various talking points and so on. Post-match I’ll again either be hosting our post-match phone-in show, or interviewing the manager and players in the tunnel. When I leave Anfield I find it very difficult to switch off, I’m not only replaying the match in my head, but also the live programming too. But nonetheless, if we’ve won I go home bouncing.
B/R: What are the parts of the job you love most? And which parts are the hardest to deal with?
CR: Every day is different. They say variety is the spice of life and we definitely have plenty of that here. I think it’s a great privilege to work for this football club and I have been afforded some great opportunities since I have been here. I am lucky that I get to travel all around the world in my position as a presenter for the channel, whether that is on pre-season tours with the first team, on European games or on specialised projects for LFC TV, and it’s one of the aspects of my job I love the most.
I love being so close to a football club that is so special and this season being at all of the first team games has been incredible, to witness firsthand the emotion and drama of it all has been amazing. The hardest to deal with has been the testing times in recent years, which are hopefully behind us now. There were periods of upset that were difficult to say the least.
B/R: Have you formed many relationships with the players and staff at Anfield? Have any become close friends?
CR: We have a great team at LFC TV, everyone is so passionate about the job and we work so hard to give the supporters something to be proud of. We are all very close as we have gone through so much together. As far as the players and staff, I have a good relationship with them, I have worked at the club for seven years now and am in a position which relies heavily on trust. I believe I have that trust, which is very important.
B/R: Which Liverpool players have been the most fun to work with so far and why?
CR: We have a great squad of players not just the first team but the Academy lads are lovely, too. I have been on some funny shoots with most of them to be honest, at the minute though I’d have to say Daniel Sturridge is one of the big characters, I recently took him to a local school to surprise the students for LFC TV’s Kop Kids show, he was absolutely brilliant with them. The kids were so star struck, so seeing their faces when he walked in was brilliant.
B/R: Do you feel the club atmosphere has changed since Brendan Rodgers took over? If so, how?
CR: There is a fantastic atmosphere around the place right now, how could there not be? Everyone is so positive and it really is a pleasure to come to work every single day. There have been some tough times in recent years but we all have the feeling that we are involved in something very, very special and that is an incredible feeling.
B/R: What are the most important things to get right when you're presenting in front of a camera? How much prep work goes into what you do?
CR: I do a lot of research before matches; I’m always looking into stats and different lines to go on in our shows and am very committed to getting it right. It’s so important for me to have credibility as a broadcaster; I like to give myself the best possible chance when I’m on screen so will work very hard to make sure I am prepared.
When I’m on screen I try to remain as calm as possible even when running orders and scripts go out of the window, it’s not the easiest thing to do when people are screaming down your ear and things are constantly changing but when it goes well that’s when I get a real buzz.
B/R: Finally, what advice might you have for somebody who aspires to be in your shoes one day?
CR: I did a lot of work experience and placements at various places like the BBC, ITV etc. and they were really useful, I made a lot of contacts that are still valuable to me now, so I would advise anyone to go out there and get as much experience as possible, make yourself useful when you are there and be memorable for the right reasons!
To read the rest of Bleacher Report's "Inside the Football Media" series, click on the links below.
- Day One: Ollie Holt talks about life as a football writer
- Day Two: Gary Lineker on Match of the Day, Stats and TV punditry
- Day Three: Guillem Balague on writing Messi's biography
- Day Four: Getty Sport's Richard Heathcote on life as a football photographer