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Thursday 2 April 2015

Catching up with Solent graduate Dr. Rory Magrath

Dr. Rory Magrath first came to Southampton Solent University in 2007 to study for a degree in football studies. Although he initially found the course difficult, he soon found his niche and excelled in the sociology units and his dissertation.

Encouraged by this success, he began studying for an an MSc at Loughborough University, and eventually returned to Southampton Solent University to combine part-time lecturing with a PhD programme at the University of Winchester.

Dr Rory Magrath

It’s now been four years since Rory returned to Southampton Solent University. Not only is he now a full time member of the teaching staff – he has also successfully completed his PhD!

In this interview Rory talks about his postgraduate study, his time as a student here at Southampton Solent, and his top tips for current football studies students.

What has been your biggest achievement so far?

“Without doubt I’d have to say completing my PhD. It may be a close a call along with securing a full-time position at Southampton Solent University, but my PhD was the most challenging thing I have ever done.

“The feeling of completing in a relatively short time (part-time students often take up to 7 years to complete) and the feeling of finishing with only very minor amendments was unbelievable – it still hasn’t quite sunk in!”

What do you love about your career?

“The opportunity to talk about football every single day is fantastic, particularly with students who are just as passionate about the game as I am.

“It’s also great to mix with students from different backgrounds (and who support different football teams!) – it gives me a fascinating insight into how football varies across different parts of the country, and, of course, internationally.

“Lastly, it’s great to facilitate these young men and women who will ultimately be the future of the football industry.”

What are the big challenges you are facing in your industry?

“Football is the most popular sport in the world, but is often widely criticised by certain sections of the media – usually unfairly.

“Naturally, one of the biggest challenges is that many people are put off by football. It is my job, as well as that of my colleagues, to challenge these widely held beliefs with my research.”

Rory (far left) during his undergraduate years.

What is the most important advice/knowledge you learnt at University that prepared you for the world of work?

“When I first signed up on Football Studies, I thought it would be easy: I thought that my ‘armchair’ knowledge of the game would be sufficient to achieve good marks. However, I fast learned that it was not!

“This became evident in my first week at Southampton Solent University, where my tutors laid out their high expectations. Although it may have taken me a while to get going, the self-discipline required to succeed as a football student has prepared me well for my current role.”

How do you see your industry developing in the future?

“It’s difficult to say, but the popularity of football is always growing. For example: the recent Premier League deal worth over £5bn shows that people still want to watch football.

“As long as people are interested in football, the scope and necessity for academic research will continue.”

What was your favourite Southampton Solent University memory?

“It’s difficult to pinpoint one particular memory as there are so many. Meeting so many high profile figures in the game at guest lectures was really unique, and gave me an opportunity to quiz these stars (who I would normally only see on TV) in person.

“I was also lucky enough to be at the University when the Lawrie McMenemy Centre for Football Research officially in September 2009, and it was great to be involved in something so closely related to the professional game.

“Along with this, it’s hard to forget the great social life offered to students in the city of Southampton: many of my fellow students remain my close friends.”

Solent’s cutting-edge sports laboratories are used by profession football teams for pre-season testing.

What are your future career plans?

“I am passionate about my subject, and about research. Now that my PhD is complete, I hope that I am now able to prolong my research career, and make a difference in the subject area.

“I’m currently enjoying my role at Southampton Solent University, and have a number of future research projects that I hope to pursue.”

What do you feel are the biggest changes in the industry so far?

“As someone whose research focuses on the relationship between football, masculinity and sexuality, I have witnessed a continued shift towards football as a more positive and inclusive environment for the LGBT community.

“My own research also confirms this. However, despite widespread media speculation, there are still no openly gay active professional footballers in the UK: this will be the next big step in the right direction.”

Test Park is the University’s multi-million pound outdoor sports ground. The venue is open to students, University staff members and the general public.

What advice would you give to current students?

“Always believe in yourself, and take advantage of the wonderful opportunities available to you.

“Southampton Solent University has some of the most talented staff, and some great links, that you should utilise while you can.

“Always be willing to take that extra step to make yourself stand out from others, whether it’s achieving high grades on work or participating well in the placements with professional football clubs that the University offers.”

Why would you recommend your course and Solent to others?

“Football Studies and Football Studies and Business brings people from a diverse range of cultures together to study the most popular (and best!) sport in the world.”

To find out more about studying sport, coaching or fitness here at Southampton Solent University, please visit the sport and fitness course pages.