Two newspaper heavyweights have launched a website which, they claim, will fill a vacuum in the field of UK sports journalism.
Scottish-based freelance journalists, Bryan Cooney, former head of sport of the Daily Mail, and Black, former chief sports writer of the Scottish Sun, have founded www.nogreyareas.net which went live this week.
Explaining the raison d’être of the new website, Cooney explains: “Turn on the radio or the television and you’ll be hard pushed to come across sports interviews of any great consequence.
“Where are the searching questions that provide a window into a person’s personality?
“Sportsmen and women are too often the subjects of sycophancy. No-one wants to offend them. Hence you get the kind of programmes that have all the depth of puddles.
“We are looking for more than that, for we occupy a segment in time when people want to know more about those they idolise”.
Cooney cited as an example, Murray Walker, the legend behind the Formula One microphone, who was one of the racing driver, the late James Hunt’s closest confidants – yet grievously upset the Hunt family.
Cooney emphasised that Black and himself were not wishing to be intrusive: they were just asking questions that the man on the street would like to know ...”and, if you speak to people in a correct and courteous manner, they usually don’t mind telling you.”
The duo has already built up an impressive guest list for their new media audio venture.
Already in the can are in-depth interviews with Sir Michael Parkinson, Sir Jackie Stewart, Zola Budd, Tommy Docherty, Murray Walker, Bertie Auld, Ron Atkinson, Sandy Lyle, Craig Brown and Tommy Gilmour.
And they promise new guests each week. Black, who now writes on boxing and golf for the Scottish Sun and Mail on Sunday, says: “Bryan and I go way back. We used to work together on the Scottish Sun and now, three decades later, we are back in tandem.
“Most of our interviews will be with those people who are regarded as legends, but we are not ponies of the one-trick variety.
“We’ll also be interviewing sportsmen and women who make today’s news. And no doubt, if our respective histories are anything to go by, we’ll break some big stories.”
Cooney, who has made a series of interview programmes for BBC Radio Scotland and one for BBC Radio Four’s Archive Hour, adds: “Whilst making these programmes, I invariably used my own tape recorder so that I could pick up some gems that the producer might have missed.
“That was the case in the Murray Walker interview. What he revealed really moved me.
“If that part of the story had been broadcast, it would have made headlines - just like the programme with jockey Willie Carson did a couple of years ago when he admitted he’d never made any contact with a love child.”
The website is not restricted to interviews. Both Black and Cooney will write weekly blurbs and there will also be a special online televised Sunday programme called the Sunday Roast - featuring a controversial football pundit.