CRAIG Lindfield is no stranger to appearing in sports stories, but now the Accrington Stanley wide man is writing them too as he pursues a degree in sports journalism.
Lindfield is only 24 years old and intends to spend many more years in the professional game, but has decided to begin planning for life after retirement by starting a two-year course at Staffordshire University.
While ex-Reds skipper Andy Procter opted to take up a physiotherapy course at a similar stage of his career, Lindfield has chosen journalism and has already written articles for Stanley’s website and matchday programme.
The former FA Youth Cup winner with Liverpool has also been put in touch with a national newspaper by his Stanley team-mate James Beattie and his first article with them appeared online last week – something that has been the source of banter among his team-mates and friends.
“I’ve been getting a lot of texts with abuse about the column, but I’ve got to take that!” he laughed.
“It is a distance learning course and it is mainly placement based.
“I’ve done a few things for the programme at the club, Dan Jewell (Stanley’s press officer) has really helped me and I’d like to thank him for that.
“I’ve interviewed a few of my team-mates like James Gray and Charlie Barnett.
“That is tougher than interviewing someone you don’t know because you have to try to be serious and it’s not an easy place to be serious at a football club, you do get a lot of banter!
“But I have enjoyed it. There are a few different modules on the course, including the law side so that I don’t write anything that causes any legal trouble.
“We have classes once a month at Staffordshire University and Lawrie Madden is my tutor, he’s a former player.
“There are seven or eight of us – the only one I knew before was Neil Mellor (the retired former Preston striker), who is from Liverpool like me so we travel down together.”
Lindfield receives funding from the PFA for his course and says the opportunity to learn new skills was one that he did not want to pass up.
“I was quite a bright lad at school academically so it would be a shame not to have some sort of qualification,” he said.
“It’s something I’d been thinking about for two or three years before I checked it out in the summer.
“It wasn’t necessarily that journalism was the thing I’d always thought I really wanted to do, I just knew I wanted to do something.
“I’ll get a degree at the end of it and if it’s not journalism it could help me for other things, maybe teaching or something else.
“I didn’t want to wait until the end of my career and then have to take two years to do it then.
“It is tough in some ways because you do have to be self-motivating.
“But the PFA fund a lot of it so it would make no sense not to make use of that.
“As a footballer you train early in the day but you have quite a few hours in the afternoon free.”
Lindfield, though, remains firmly focused on football.
He aims to hold down a regular place in the Stanley line-up, after being in and out of the side in recent weeks, as well as helping the Reds to climb out of relegation trouble.
“Obviously football is my priority,” he said.
“A degree is a good safety net to have, but I’m only 24 and hopefully I’ve got a lot of years left playing.
“I want to get a place in the 11 but the main thing is for us to get points from these next few games.”