Welcome to The Set Pieces, Chris. First of all, let’s address the elephant in the room, you’re not the radio and TV presenter, are you?
Barely a week goes past when people don’t make reference to my name in some shape or form, so I’m used to that question. I can confirm I haven’t got ginger hair, I’ve never been on Top Gear and I don’t have his bank balance.
While Chris (him not me, I’m not going full Zlatan) was starting to become less known with a younger audience, you can imagine my delight when the Captain America actor burst on to thousands of cinema screens. I’ve since discovered there are plenty of other Chris Evanses doing the rounds in different industries – including this one – so I can relate to how the nation’s fleet of John Smiths feel with such a common name.
Back when I was a teenager, I had a weekend job at a shop that also employed a lad called Jonathan Ross. The customers used to love that…
How did you come about getting the role as The Set Pieces editor?
Almost by accident. I’d written several articles for the website over the years and have always been a big fan of what The Set Pieces did under each editor, so it was a shame when it ground to a halt at the end of last year.
Seeing the site sit there dormant seemed like such a missed opportunity and I believe there’s still an enormous amount of potential in the brand. So after speaking to the previous editor, Greg Lea, and the powers that be, we came up with a new plan to set the ball rolling again.
What have you got in store for the website?
Initially, the plan is to get it up and running again by doing more of what made it so popular in the first place. There are some brilliant writers who have penned articles for the site in the past and loads of excellent articles published on here that you wouldn’t see anywhere else, so prioritising quality storytelling is still key.
I’m keen to increase the number of interviews we do and make even more of the retro and world football articles we have on the site. We also have plans to launch a few new regular pieces too, as well as bringing back some of the old classics. Yes, that means the Football Manager Project and we’ve launched an extra special version of the challenge as part of our reboot. There’s a special twist to this one, though, which we hope will grab you all.
Does that mean Iain Macintosh will be back in the Goodison Park hotseat?
There are no plans to do this just yet, as Iain is now off working on other projects. But nobody thought Jose Mourinho would return to Chelsea for a second stint after the way he left Stamford Bridge the first time around, so I suppose you can never say never. Even though we haven’t got a big Return of the Mac announcement to make, there’s never a better time to get stuck into his escapades, so I’d encourage you to delve into the archives to remind yourself why he was so popular in the first place.
What’s your background in the industry?
I’ve been freelancing for several years and have written for a number of national titles, although you’ll primarily have seen my work in FourFourTwo, which I’ve been writing for since 2014. I’ve always loved the magazine, so seeing my stuff in print for them has always been a huge buzz. As I mentioned before, I’ve written a lot for The Set Pieces in the past few years too, so I’m familiar with the website.
I also wrote a book called Learning Curve about Loughborough University’s football team back in 2017, which was fun. Admittedly, it was a bit niche, but some people did buy it (shout to my mum and dad!).
I haven’t always been as frequent with football writing as I’d like to have been, largely because I’ve combined that with working on content projects for a number of different brands, such as Speedo and Tesco. So, yeah, I guess you could say my experience is pretty well-rounded.
Having freelanced for a while, you must have picked up several good tips. What would you say are the golden rules for a successful pitch?
Simply, there isn’t one magic bullet and it seems to depend on who you’re pitching to. Ultimately, though, if it’s a good story, it’ll make people sit up and take notice. Ideas are the most important currency in this game, although it’s also crucial for pitches to be concise and to the point to communicate what the story is. At least, that’s what I try to do.
Personally, I’m a sucker for anything that’s different and if there’s an angle you’re unlikely to see in many other areas. Previous editors of The Set Pieces have preached the importance of not trotting out the same Premier League comment pieces that are already daubed across the web and I agree, unless you’re somebody we really need to listen to.
Pitched articles, like their authors, need to have a point of difference if you want to stand out, so keep that in mind when you’re suggesting anything. If you do have something to pitch though, you can get in touch with me on [email protected]