An interview with an iFollow commentator and Rover and Out co-founder, Adam Siddorn.
Through this interview Adam Siddorn, nicknamed ‘Sid’, talks to me and you about his media journey, his personal realisation with his sexuality and the work he and others have put in for Tranmere’s LGBT+ friendly organisation ‘Rover and Out’; amongst other subjects. This is how our phone call went.
Hello ‘Sid’, to open this interview I’d like to talk about yourself as a commentator as you are one for the club’s iFollow service. What has your media journey been like?
‘I started in radio when I was 16, there was a good ten year gap between that and then joining Tranmere. I started out at Cammell Lairds with Phil Wilkinson, we were more nervous then as obviously we were new to it. I hadn’t commentated before so I was shoved in at the deep end. To grow from there was great, to go from Lairds to Tranmere was unbelievable as I’m a big Tranmere supporter. When Wirral Radio closed we got an email from Nicola Palios, the club’s co-owner, that very day, saying to come for a meeting the following day. We went and the day after that we travelled to Leyton Orient to work for the club. It’s a massive lifelong dream, especially as we get to go to games when no one else can in these times. It’s such an honour, it’s brilliant’.
What first made you aware of your sexuality? What was it like to reveal this to others?
‘It was daunting, it was scary because bare in mind you first have these thoughts when you’re 11/12 and you start to question them. Surely this isn’t what other people feel like etc. So when you do realise them you have to think about what you are going to do with them, who to tell. You have to tell people that you can trust. You do worry and you do panic. I’ll never forget the day I told the first person, a mate of mine, it was sports day at the Bebington oval. There were rumours going round saying that I fancied her, which I obviously didn’t, so I told her that we needed to talk. I told her about the way I was feeling and we’ve been best mates ever since. Everyone has accepted it, even if I had to wait until my 18th birthday to tell my parents. It was difficult’.
Do you feel that sexuality, you think of the cases of footballers when there are stories of a footballer being afraid to ‘come out’, should remain personal or should it be told to the public?
‘To be fair, I’ll go back to your previous question as I was a Tranmere fan going to all the games when I was experiencing those thoughts and feelings and you think is there anybody else in the ground got the same thought as me etc. You feel a little bit cautious of saying anything as you’re worried if they’ll say anything back to you, the biggest one for me was if I should tell anyone at the football. I didn’t for years, it wasn’t until we started Rovers and Out that people started to notice my sexuality. I didn’t feel it was too necessary to tell people, it doesn’t change who I am’
Do you feel like the stories about footballers are slightly unnecessary?
‘It’s not unnecessary, my views on that are different to other people. Some people think that a gay footballer should ‘come out’ and say their sexuality. I feel sorry for any footballers that are gay because there is too much pressure from the media to come out, as the second that they do ‘come out’ their whole career is going to be defined by that. I know that there are gay managers and players in non-league football, I feel that there is a fixation around having a big name to have as a sort of superstar poster boy for the media’s stories. Why not use the lower league athletes and coaches? I think it’s totally wrong. It’s not going to happen for a long long time, in my opinion. The pressure will be and is unbelievable. You see people after football, you think of Thomas Hitzlsperger when he retired and came out the media weren’t bothered. The gay footballer has to be present and high profile, it’s wrong’.
In today’s society, do you think more is being done to promote being homosexual than it would be in previous societies. Do you think the idea of being homosexual has changed and it is more accepted by the world?
‘Yeah, there’s certainly a lot more going on. I think it’s good that football clubs do have organisations such as Rovers and Out. West Brom have the Proud Baggies, Charlton have one and there are tons of others up and down the country. Rainbow laces as well, it is things like that which are superb and it is important that we form close bonds and we work together in our areas to promote. I tell you now, honestly, if there was this group at Tranmere when I was finding myself I would’ve felt a lot more comfortable in myself. It would’ve helped me personally, knowing that there is that kind of organisation and other welcoming people like yourself. We’ve seen ourselves, we’ve seen through what we’ve done, the amount of people who’ve come to us and told us about their sexuality. It’s comforting to know that there are people there that are proud and happy to have us as part of their club. I find it sad that there are others that don’t feel comfortable’.
Have you ever experienced any homophobia anywhere in football?
‘I’ll be honest, at Tranmere, no. I’ve never experienced anything whatsoever at Prenton Park. I think our fans and the majority of others up and down the country aren’t too bothered, their accepting of it, it’s part of today’s society. I also think that if there was any slurs made of a homophobic, racist or sexist nature that people would stand up against it. If anything was to be said, say in the Kop, you know that people wouldn’t stand for it. People have enough intelligence and nous in this society. I’m obviously in the media box, not in the stands, so I don’t hear, see or experience anything but I have never experienced any homophobic abuse at any ground ever’.
You spoke about people and society in general, if you could compare today’s society and their attitudes etc with others do you feel like it is progressive?
‘People are being made aware of the abuse and what those feelings mean and what it’s about. In bygone eras you’d be told that you grow up, have a wife, have kids and that’s it. I think that times have changed and education has improved. People are starting to believe that it is okay to be themselves. I know people who have waited until their parents have passed until coming out, as they live in a sort of fear of what their parents will react like. They’ve had a long life lived with a lie and when you’re an adult, or older, life is less enjoyable and so they’ve missed out on the best possible experience as they can’t be themselves. I think that is still going to go on but I think that with the education and the acceptance of society and young people it is progressive and the future looks brighter’.
What do you think can/must be done for homosexuality to be more accepted. We’ve obviously got groups like Rovers and Out and others but do you think anything else can be done?
‘I’ll be honest mate there is definitely always something that can be done. However, the aim is that there will be a day when these types of things aren’t needed as being accepted and feeling comfortable within yourselves is the norm. That is the end goal, not to add but to be able to take away. I hope there is a day when groups like the one I am part of can say that it is no longer needed as the job is done. Can I see it happening? No, of course not but that is the pipe dream. It is a generational problem, you look at the posts and you look at the ones for instance the FA put up around LGBT issues and the majority of people that send abuse are of a certain age bracket. You’re in the same twitter fan group that I am and if anything was ever said in there, okay I am a bit older than most of you as the group is full of mostly teenagers and people in their early twenties, not one of them lads would accept homophobia. I know people push the boundaries but it wouldn’t happen within that age group, there are some exceptions but I think it is mostly to do with that age group’.
As we have mentioned social media, you get ‘bots’ who aim to put negative harmful opinions on the sites. What are your thoughts on this?
‘Oh yeah, of course, the bots. I think it’s frustrating as they automatically send things to a post/page and you have to be careful to see what is a real image. You see the angry reactions but not until you know who has reacted that way, you click on the account and realise that it’s not even a real person. They’re showing a false image, which brings animosity, which makes the abuse look a lot worse than what it is. Society, the majority of it anyway, would certainly not behave in the same way as a bot and share the same thoughts’.
Do you feel like football clubs are doing their best to tackle homophobia, whether the abuse comes in the shape of a bot or a person?
‘The social media platforms have to take care of the bot’s, that is something that is out of football clubs or organisation’s hands. That is a social media problem and they have to start putting things in place to remove them. I saw something today, I think it was a racial remark that was sent to a Brentford player and instagram immediately acted. Thus, they have started to act and it is encouraging’.
In terms of clubs doing more for LGBT+ related things it is a case of learning on the job. Tranmere are relatively new and we have added things and I’m in regular contact with Scotty Davies as I was with Steve Mcnulty and they’re superb, they’ll do anything to help out. I can’t praise Davies and the rest of the squad enough, they have all done their bit and have come to many events. It’s great to see, it shows the character and the togetherness of the players, the club and the dedication to ourselves and other clubs. Most players up and down the country are proactive and are happy to get involved, that is something that we are proud of as that is the case at Tranmere.’
You’ve moved that on pretty well for me, I wanted to talk about Rover and Out. Are you a co-founder of that?
‘Co-founder? Yeah, me and Nina Crombie. We have elected somebody else as chairman as we felt it was important, without me being big-headed, to get other people who are lesser known to take care of the group themselves and step forward and show that it wasn’t just the group with only my face in. I like to sit in the background with the group, I like to help out behind-the-scenes whilst helping people out and moving things along, we’ve got plenty planned for the next few years. I think that is something that I am stupidly proud of, it came from just me posting an idea in the supporters group on Facebook to where we are now with the T-shirts, the badges, the hats etc. We even came second in a national competition, getting beat by Lincoln (that’s not the first time that has happened). It’s great, it’s brilliant and everyone’s doing so much and again speaking to Davies he is keen to get involved. I’d like to give praise to him’.
You’ve spoken a lot about it but if you had to give a short description of what Rover and Out is, could you?
‘Absolutely. For me, a lot of these groups are there for different reasons. I want this group to show that Tranmere Rovers are a LGBT+ friendly club, we’re an accepting fanbase, we’re a forward thinking group of fans and anyone is welcome at Prenton Park. We’re there to support people and have a network of people to help with anything such as getting involved and coming to events. We want people to feel welcome to come to our club’.
I would like to thank Adam Siddorn for his time answering the questions that I placed towards him whilst also thanking him and others for their continued excellent work for the ‘Rover and Out’ organisation. The group is excellent at what they do and I wish them all the best for the future.
Thank you very much for reading,