By Jason McKeown
The 2012/13 season is full of happy memories for Bradford City supporters. As editor of Width of a Post, it was also a special if exhausting one for yours truly. Over that epic, 64-game season, we published 362 articles. With City going through such incredible times, we had a huge amount of supporters enthusiastic to write articles for us. There were some terrific pieces produced, but one submitted to me in late March 2013 was especially notable.
A 15-year-old lass named Katie Whyatt wrote to me to submit an article titled ‘A season to remember – not one to forget’. It came during that sticky period in the season where the cup run was over, and it seemed our play off hopes were dead. But Katie, who had started supporting the club in 2007, argued the gains of the cup run showed the club was revitalised. “It was like some mad illusion; a far-fetched story that had been dreamt up by the people of the city. Had the tale been a film script, it would have been rejected by Hollywood bosses – it would have been too barbaric, inconceivable, unrealistic, all just too much to fathom. Even the most positive supporter could never have envisaged this series of events.”
To this jaded, over-worked website editor, who had received lots of strong article submissions, but a few that required a lot of spit and polish, Katie’s article immediately stood out. And hearing that she was only 15 – and knowing how erratic my own writing was at such a young age – it was impossible not to be impressed. One of my core aims with WOAP is to give other fans a platform to write about the club. Katie’s youthful yet well-crafted, wonderfully constructed words was validation of those aims. I couldn’t wait to upload her article and hit publish.
The article received a great reaction, and one reader comment in particular has proven to have remarkable prophesy. From Sebastian Cargutt, “Every day I read articles from ‘professional’ journalists which are littered with errors and seem to have been cobbled together in a hurry without any meaningful proof reading. This article is light years ahead of many sports pieces.”
Five-and-a-half-years later, I’m very sad but proud to inform readers that Katie Whyatt is leaving WOAP. Embarking on the true beginnings of a career in journalism that – all the way back in 2013 – it was obvious she had the potential to realise. Katie is heading straight to the national stage, and specifically the Daily Telegraph. She will become the paper’s brand new Women’s Football Journalist, covering Women’s Premier League matches and England games all over the country.
From that debut, well-received article, Katie – who had her own, now dormant blog called Bantams Blogger – became more and more involved with Width of a Post. Each article of hers drew a bigger and bigger reaction, and she became one of a handful of WOAP writers who grew in fame. I’d have people routinely asking me about who Katie was and praising her work, including from inside the club and national journalists. Her enthusiasm for writing about City became a huge asset for the site, especially from the 2013/14 season onwards, when my own commitment to the site was challenged by becoming a dad and having considerably less free time.
In 2015 Katie became assistant editor and shortly afterwards co-editor. Her ambitions and talent were always going to exceed this site, and her drive to become a more rounded writer meant we had to share her with other outlets, most notably BBC Radio Leeds over the past few years. And of course, Katie was going through higher education that included three years at Leeds University. But when Katie was free and able to write, her articles continued to build a dedicated following. She helped take WOAP to another level. Not least by interviewing players and managers, and with the introduction of podcasts, which are growing in popularity.
Since 2016, WOAP has operated through a rough editorial team of myself, Katie, Tim Penfold and Alex Scott, mainly via that most modern of mediums, a social media group chat. We bounce ideas and articles off each other, and it’s helped to construct more rounded pieces. Katie has been a vital glue that has kept that together.
It is no surprise that, after graduating in the summer, Katie has quickly found employment, and her new position at the Telegraph is an industry first, that will be watched on with interest. It is just reward for her amazing dedication and drive to forge a career. Whilst I frittered away most of my University years drinking and sleeping in until noon, Katie has been getting every drop of writing and broadcasting experience she can. It will take her a long, long way.
At WOAP, we can’t take much credit for Katie’s rise and rise. I’ve given her a platform and the odd bit of advice, but no one can teach somehow to be that hardworking and passionate. I’m very proud to know Katie. To be her friend. And to have worked together on something that a lot of City fans really value. We’ll miss her. We’ll be weaker without her. But like all City fans, we’ll be rooting for our Katie. And wishing her nothing but the best of luck in everything she does.
But enough from me. After some arm-twisting, I’ve persuaded Katie to write some words about her time writing for WOAP. Over to you, Katie…
“I want to thank everyone who has encouraged me over the past six years. I started writing for Width of a Post in my bedroom as a teenager with very little thought of where it would actually go or what it could lead to, but it has been a privilege writing for people who have received my work so warmly from day one and been so kind to me every step of the way.
“Bradford City have been a great club to cover, with players who have been a pleasure to deal with and given us memories that will last a lifetime.
“Thank you for making my first steps into journalism so joyful and giving me the perfect playground to grow and get better as a writer.”