Josh Barnstable: The Facebook Interview

Interview with Josh Barnstable

Josh Barnstable started writing for the Footy Almanac at 14 years of age. He covered his first match in the book in round one 2009 which resulted in a win for his beloved North Melbourne. He has since written many engaging reports for both the book and the website. He is studying VCE while working as an around the groundsman and broadcaster for 98.5 ONE FM. He lives in Numurkah and would like to become a sports journalist. This interview was conducted via Facebook messages with Phil Dimitriadis


PD: How did you find out about The Footy Almanac?


JB: First saw the Footy Almanac (2008 edition) in K-Mart in Shepparton one day, and tried convincing Mum and Dad to buy it for me. They said no, but about a week later Dad went and bought it for me as a surprise.


PD: Good move by the old man. How did you come to write for the book and what was your first match as a writer?


JB: Once reading the book cover to cover, I noticed that I could contribute myself with the little message from John Harms and Paul Daffey at the back of the book. I sent them an email, declared my interest (perhaps a little too enthusiastically – I tried thrusting my name before the selectors for the opening round of 2009), and my first match to write about was North Melbourne v Melbourne, Round 1 of 2009.

PD: How did that feel? Did North win?

JB: It felt quite good, and I was keen to contribute my words. I find the Almanac good because all the thoughts that go through my head during a game of footy, I now have an outlet for all of that at the end of the game. They did win, by 34 points. It was Jack Ziebell’s debut match.


PD: So your debut coincided with Jack Ziebell’s. Was that a good omen for your career as a budding journalist? Why is writing important for yourself and for prospective junior almanackers?


JB: Hopefully I don’t endure a couple of broken legs along the way like he did! Writing is important for everyone and especially people of the younger generation so they can build up confidence with their words, learn how to write about a game of football, tennis, rugby, anything, and make it engaging. John Harms, Paul Daffey and the whole crew are very good at doing that.


PD: Why do you think footy and sport in general means a lot to so many people?


JB: Sport brings people together, and it doesn’t matter what nationality you are, what religion you belong to or what you believe in, everyone can participate in the banter, and discuss the game at great lengths. And the beauty is that all the people in the crowd or just watching the game in general, unite under one rule: Always boo Collingwood and Carlton.


PD: Unless you follow them of course. How does a writer engage his/her audience?


JB: Make the article interesting, knowledgeable and, overall, a pleasure to read.


PD: Sounds good. Who are some of your favourite writers/journalists and why?


JB: I don’t really have any. I don’t take any notice of who writes what when I read the Herald Sun. Mike Sheahan has always been good at going out on a limb and creating some discussion, which is always good.  John Harms’ work is a pleasure to read.


PD: Who are some of your favourite sportspeople and why?


JB: From the AFL, you can’t go past the underrated champions of the game. That’s Lenny Hayes, Jimmy Bartel, Simon Black and Matthew Boyd. From sport in general, Novak Djokovic is definitely inspiring to watch.


PD: Can you tell us why you started following North? Did you feel sorry for them?


JB: Haha, no. Dad has supported them all his life, as far as I know, and the blue and white got passed down to me. There was a time in 2007, during the whole Gold Coast fiasco, where I almost jumped ship to Hawthorn after they beat us in Round 3 of that season. We were 0-3, about to move north, had no money and our star forward (Nathan Thompson) was out with an ACL. Sticking with them, they won the next six games in a row, and made the finals series, where we beat Hawthorn at the MCG in the Semi’s. Sadly we lost to Port Adelaide a week later. I will never contemplate leaving them again after that.


PD: Yes, that was a brave season under Dean Laidley. Do you play footy? If so who for and where?


JB: I used to play for the Waaia Bombers. Started in 2004 but gave it up for this year with Year 12 commitments and my job at the local radio station. I used to play in the forward line with stints in the ruck. A bit like Nic Naitanui you could say.


PD: You are a young man of many talents. You are also a boundary rider for your local station 98.5 One FM. Can you describe some of your duties and perhaps a memorable moment?


JB: I don’t do a lot of boundary riding anymore, I do some studio work on game days. That involves controlling the advertisement breaks between quarters, giving a half time update of ‘around the grounds’, as well as giving an update on the AFL action, while at 5:30 I read out all the local scores from every division of football and netball from the Goulburn Valley Football League, Murray Football League, Kyabram Football League and Picola District Football League. A memorable moment would be my first boundary riding assignment, early last year. Arriving late due to playing footy in the morning, I was sent out on the field to cover the coin toss, not knowing what each end of the ground was called. When asked which way the local side was kicking, I looked at the commentary box and said “That way”, while pointing to my right. I was also asked to give a tip for the game in the same match, and apparently I picked the team that had just won the wooden spoon the year previously, against the reigning premiers. The game ended in a draw.


PD: You weren’t far off. You’ve covered the hard questions beautifully. Now for some short sharp ones. What is your favourite movie and what kind of music do you like to listen to?


JB: Favourite movie would be between Red Dog or 21 Jump Street. And I listen to a variety of music, but mostly heavy metal, such as Bullet For My Valentine and Hollywood Undead.


PD: Do you have any superstitions?


JB: Not really, but I do believe I have a small case of OCD.


PD: Does it get worse when North is playing in a tight game?


JB: Can’t stand close games involving North.  I almost had a heart attack watching the St Kilda v Collingwood Grand Final a couple of years back. Not looking forward to when North make it that far.


PD: If you could meet anybody, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you ask them?


JB: Barack Obama, I would ask him to come sort this country out.


PD: In what way?


JB: Politics, Government. Some things aren’t quite right.


PD: So political journalism might not be out of the question in the future? Finally, what advice would you give to young people writing for the Junior Almanac?


JB: Can’t rule it out, but I really hope not. Advice for younger Almanackers would be to contribute as much as you can, when you can, because the editors will notice you, as well as the other members like you Phil. Once everyone knows who you are and what your story is you can really contribute.


PD: Josh, I appreciate your time and input. We’re proud to introduce you as one of the success stories of the Footy Almanac community and thank you for supporting the Junior Footy Almanac.


JB: No worries, it was good fun! And to all Port Adelaide supporters reading this, get ready for a tough match this weekend!


Josh’s articles can be located by clicking on The Almanackers at the top of the page and finding his name on the list which is in alphabetical order. Happy reading and writing and welcome to the Junior Footy Almanac.


About John Harms

John Harms is a writer, broadcaster, publisher, historian, speaker and teacher. He loves stories.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.