Welcome to the #MeetTheContributor! Today’s we’re speaking to James Andrew, Editor of football publication FourFourTwo. James began his career as a news reporter in regional newspapers in 2006 before moving into sport a year later, and now oversees both the magazine and the website.
From Beijing to Barcelona, Carlisle to Kathmandu, FourFourTwo has become one of football’s most respected, trusted brands.
FourFourTwo stands for the very highest quality, unparalleled football knowledge and genuine authority — all delivered with passion, humour and flair.
Let’s hear from James about his career, his most memorable footballer interviews and more!
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1. What inspired you to get into writing as a career?
I was obsessed with sport from a young age but also with the media. I used to read newspapers and magazines all the time growing up and so it always seemed like the natural thing I wanted to do. Whenever I did work experience when at school I went to work at newspapers and I was focused on pursuing it as a career, from the age of about 16 I never considered doing anything else. I started on a local newspaper working on the news desk and then moved into sport eventually.
2. Out of all the interviews with famous football faces you’ve conducted over your career, which has been your favourite?
I have interviewed various famous faces from the world of football over the years from Sir Alex Ferguson to Jose Mourinho, David Beckham and Wayne Rooney. But I am more interested in the stories than the names. Some of my favourite interviews have been with players or managers who may not be A list names, so people like Jamie O’Hara, Liam Rosenior or Neil Warnock who have all had good stories to tell. My favourite one recently was sitting down with former Fulham and Wales manager Chris Coleman. As a Fulham fan it was good to have a lengthy interview with him about his career. Coleman was someone I used to interview a lot when he was at Fulham at the start of my career, so it was great to catch up with him again.
3. What do you find to be the most challenging part of editing a magazine issue?
The whole time we were in lockdown from March 2020 was very challenging for all sorts of reasons. Not being together in the office, not how long lockdown would go on for, football stopping and access to players being more tricky and not knowing if people would still buy the magazine when it was in the shops. But the team adapted really well and we produced some really good issues and have come out the other side. On an issue by issue basis, timing is always something that is a challenge — especially with the cover. If we put someone on the cover then that decision is made at least six weeks before the magazine is in the shops (normally the decision is made earlier) and so you want whatever you decide on to be relevant when it is on the shelves. So there is an element of trying to look into a crystal ball but also a degree of luck. We haven’t always got it right, but on the whole we have done pretty well.
4. Is there a particular issue you are most proud of?
As we finish every issue I am proud of it and the work the team has put into it. Then as soon as it is done I forget about it and move onto the next issue and aim to make that one even better. But over the last 12 months we have managed to get exclusive cover interviews and photo shoots with Mo Salah and Harry Kane. Both took a lot of work to set up and get done, but it was worth it in the end. The Season Preview issue is always a tricky one to put together for so many reasons, but when you finally hold it in your hands and look through all the work we put into it, it is definitely worth it.
5. Is there anything coming up soon that FourFourTwo readers would like to know about?
There is the small matter of the World Cup appearing quickly on the horizon. It is a step into the unknown for everyone as it will be held in the winter for the first time. But we have a lot of exciting plans for our issues ahead of the tournament with various extra things to add value for our readers. We have some exciting targets of big name interviews in 2023.
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Thanks so much for taking the time to speak to us, James! You can follow James on Twitter at @JamesAndrew_.
Digital-only subscriptions to FourFourTwo, which feature unlimited & fully-searchable access to the modern archive dating back to 2011, are available in the Exact Editions shop.