Thursday 23 November 2017

'Scrapbook Man' will never stop me from doing my job

On the Line with Alan Aherne

Alan Aherne
Alan Aherne

I never have a problem when somebody disagrees with an opinion I might share via this column.

I welcome it, in actual fact; after all, it would be an extremely odd state of affairs if every reader agreed with me all of the time.

However, it's an entirely different matter when an individual calls my professional standards into question, particularly when it's done behind my back as the person I'm alluding to hasn't the courage to confront me face to face. And as a result, dear reader, this week I want to tell you all about 'Scrapbook Man', a name I have bestowed on my detractor for reasons that will become quickly apparent.

I have been aware for a number of months now that this person has been doing all in his power to blacken my name within the G.A.A. community by casting aspersions on my work as group sports editor of this newspaper.

To use one direct quote, my 'crime' in his warped world view is that I have 'gone over to the soccer'. Clearly, he is a card-carrying member of that insecure wing of the G.A.A. where that sport he name-checked is referred to as if it's an incurable disease, or something you might inadvertently walk on while negotiating an unlit pathway on a dark night.

And every time he sees an article in this newspaper that in his view isn't favourable towards the G.A.A., he dutifully places it in a precious scrapbook, hence the nickname.

This is a flawed process, because he would need to build an extension to his house in order to store the millions of column inches we have devoted to promoting good deeds in hurling and football long before, and ever since, his one-man project started.

As I stated in a recent column, I was able to cover the full Wexford Youths campaign this season because it was the first time in their ten years as a League of Ireland club that I wasn't involved myself as a mentor in the G.A.A.

Therefore, I could do what I liked in terms of attending games rather than being restricted by my own training and match schedule.

In actual fact, this was the first of my 25 years working here to be in that position because, from 1991 to 2006, I was involved in G.A.A. administration and that posed similar problems.

'Scrapbook Man' isn't happy with me for simply doing my job which is, quite clearly and simply, to cover sport; not just the games that he prefers, but all activities in so far as is humanly possible.

And what he doesn't seem to realise, or want to acknowledge, is that I have also been able to report on more G.A.A. games than ever before with all this additional time on my hands.

Indeed, I had to laugh on a Saturday night recently when one of the numerous sources filling me in on what 'Scrapbook Man' is saying about me rang with details of his latest outburst.

I had travelled to Trim in Co. Meath to watch Oylegate-Glenbrien play in the Leinster Club championship, and left there at 3.20 p.m. in order to get back to Cushinstown for an Under-21 game at 6 p.m.

I made it with ten minutes to spare after a non-stop journey, so after that long day my amusement quickly turned to anger when I thought about the ongoing attempts of 'Scrapbook Man' to belittle my work.

This newspaper group recently completed its fourth year as sponsor of all Coiste na nOg competitions from Under-14 upwards, and that support will continue until 2021 with the strong prospect of a further time extension at that stage. In addition, we have provided job opportunities at various times for people with G.A.A. backgrounds.

When 'Scrapbook Man' is having a go at me, does he ever stop for a second to consider that I might have played a significant role in those arrangements because of my position?

In reality, I shouldn't have to justify myself to him but I simply decided that enough was enough. And as he hasn't the guts to face me with his opinions, I'm using this column to let him know exactly what I think of him in return. I firmly believe that my pen is mightier than his sword, although I'll let others be the judge of that.

I will continue to closely monitor the comments and actions of 'Scrapbook Man' in relation to me and this newspaper, and I will make him a promise here and now: he can say whatever he likes, but he will never stop me from doing my job.

Wexford People

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