THE RANGERS Community Hub runs a series of different courses and one of those is an introduction to sports journalism.

The purpose of this Sports Feature Writing course is to introduce S4-S6 pupils from Glasgow city schools to the process of feature writing.

Pupils have the opportunity to investigate the key components of feature articles from a range of publications.

In this Unit, candidates will interview former Rangers players, compile match reports and experience a matchday at Ibrox with our media team.

The below article is an example of the work the group does as pupil Campbell Finlayson, 17, from Cleveden Secondary, Kelvindale got to interview Mark Hateley.

“Up To The Mark”

Mark Hateley had an illustrious football career, playing for the likes of AC Milan, Monaco and Rangers. Nowadays he is in an ambassadorial role at the Glasgow club and has been doing some TV work for BEin Sports in the Middle East for the last nine years. He does however have some more work planned in the not too distant future, however he kept tight lipped about it during a recent interview. “I’m planning something quite radical at the moment actually” he exclaimed. “It’s an opportunity that has come up, and it’s also quite topical at the moment. I can’t give any more information but it is quite exciting actually.”

At the moment Hateley spends a lot of his time at Rangers as club ambassador, a club where he enjoyed a fruitful spell, scoring 115 goals in 222 games. He formed a lethal partnership with Ally McCoist during his spell at the Ibrox club and speaks highly of his former strike partner:

“Ally was a great goalscorer and a very smart guy out on the pitch. When I first joined the club however, I told him that he’d have to lose at least half a stone if he wanted to play with me and to be fair to him he did.

“I was mobile and all I needed was for him to be within 15 yards of me and he’d get space and goal scoring opportunities. That’s difficult to teach and that’s why he was such a great goalscorer.”

Hateley was part of the famous ‘nine-in-a-row’ Rangers team – arguably the club’s best ever side. But it is changed times at Ibrox nowadays following the club’s administration, which resulted in demotion to the third tier of Scottish football in 2012. The Gers have clawed their way up through the divisions and find themselves back in the top flight this season and Hateley identified the main differences between the team of today and the team he was a part of.

“To be honest this team is miles away from the level of that period, that was the sort of period some clubs have when all the planets seem to align in their favour and we managed to win the title for those nine consecutive years.

Back then there must have been about 80 players at the club during those nine years but with a core of about 15 players, players who also had a great mentality, the mentality of winners. The club today has players who can cope, but coping and winning are two different things. The team is more competitive than last year but nowhere near a title winning side”

He may have had a lot of fun at Rangers, winning multiple individual and collective awards but Hateley also spent a combined total of six years at Milan and Monaco and looks back on his time abroad with fondness. “For me my career was always about being the best possible and going out of my comfort zone. I had offers to stay in England but I went to Milan to discover how I could be the best.

“I enjoyed living abroad out of my comfort zone, not knowing the language, playing in a tough league and I immersed myself in that for three years before doing the same at Monaco, it was hard and intense and I saw a different side of the game.

“But I picked up an injury that kept me out for two years however those six years all came together and helped me greatly when I joined Rangers.”

He also explained how Italian defender’s treatment wasn’t the nicest, “I was spat at, had my hair pulled, everything. But one thing they did there was pull your finger because your instinctive reaction to someone doing that is to throw your arm up in the air and as soon as you did that the defender would go down trying to get you sent off. That was part and parcel of the game back then though.”

With Celtic dominating Scottish football and the national team failing time and time again it’s easy for people to laugh and look down at Scottish football and Mark confirms this is the case down in England. “They think it is rank. It certainly needs improvement and for that to happen grassroots football has to improve.

“I think the government need to reintroduce competitive football in schools, the mentality that everyone is a winner like seen at school sports also has to change, the first person over that finishing line is the winner and that mentality has to return to produce top stars.

There are nowhere near as many playing fields for sports now like there was back then and that plays its part, there is no one-to-one coaching now either like I got in Milan teaching me how to play the game. You have to get back to the basics of 30/40 years ago.”

Before he left Hateley also gave his thoughts on his son Tom’s progress back up in Scotland with Dundee. “I pay a lot of attention to Tom’s football; he ended up as a right back by default at Motherwell and only played in his usual defensive midfield position against Celtic and Rangers. He played in a much more technical, disciplined league during his time in Poland and is now back here. Four clubs wanted him but I think Dundee is the right club for him to re-establish himself, it’s a nice small club with a small group of players, Paul Hartley is a good manager and when Dundee play football they are a decent side to watch.”

After an interesting and insightful hour of chat, it’s time up and after giving his best wishes Hately disappears from the room.

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