The real-life tales of a football writer
Last week was more hectic than originally planned, but everything is going to plan.
There were calls from all kinds of media, the BBC’s Newsround to the BBC’s Radio Belfast, Faroe Islands Radio to half the stations in Spain and a piece for The Independent on Sunday to write.
Radio Belfast called while I was driving. It’s not the biggest radio station in the world, but the lad was friendly, insisted that there are a lot of United fans in Northern Ireland and I agreed to find a landline to do an interview.
They called… to stand me down, that is say that they didn’t need me. That happens perhaps twice a year – it’s part of live radio.
They asked politely if I could do the interview the following morning and I agreed. They called early and I was put on hold while Henry Winkler, aka The Fonz, was being interviewed, droning on and on in clichés.
I was kept on hold for 14 minutes, before a voice said: “We’re sorry, we’re going to have to stand you down because the Fonz is so good.”
Happy Days? Not for me and my double knock back by Radio Belfast. I’ll get over it.
Here’s the plan for this week.
"Did I ever tell you about the time I..."
Write a 450-word piece on any Barcelona news ahead of the final and a 600-word piece on Barça’s likely tactics.
Interview Brian Kidd in Manchester. He’s just finished the season helping keep Portsmouth up and will be travelling north to be back with his family. Brian’s a great man and his family are spot on.
When I was 21, I went out with his daughter. She came back to the house I rented with mates, where they had kindly put pictures of her dad on the walls. She thought I was a freak.
Get up at 5am and fly to Italy ahead of the Champions League final. My Dad will give me a lift to the airport as there are no trains so early. Fly.
Catch a four-hour train to Roma Termini and check into a hotel. Watch United train/do a press conference. Write.
Meet mates for a beer in Rome. I’m deliberately not travelling with them because I’ve got the workload of a political expenses secretary to get through, while they’re going on a session.
Write and make video diary for Channel M. Have a look around Rome.
Saviour the 2009 European Cup final. Get quotes off as many players as possible after the game, including Lionel Messi to add to his forthcoming interview in FourFourTwo.
“So, Lionel, how did it feel when John O’Shea skipped past you, then Xavi and Puyol before slamming the winner in from 30 yards?”
Give tape to an editor from Channel M so that it can be sent straight back to Manchester for editing and broadcast on Friday.
Hopefully celebrate. Go to bed very late, regardless of the result. It was 3.30am in Moscow last year as the game didn’t finish until 1am.
Up at five. The Metro won’t have started, so take a taxi to Roma Termini for a train north to Florence.
Write for the full journey, while swilling quality Italian coffee to keep awake. Then take a connection to Pisa, file more copy at the airport there before a flight to Manchester. Write on the flight. This will be a busy day.
Watch United’s homecoming in Manchester. Possibly.
"He's wasted in defence, that O'Shea..."
Train from Manchester to London. My fiancée has never been on a train before. It’s not that she’s too posh for a rattler or anything, they just don’t have trains in Brazil.
She’ll meet family in London, I’ll meet my publishers and go to the Footballer of the Year award. I don’t go every year, but it’s alright once in a while.
Watch Steven Gerrard' presented with the award. I like Gerrard and he’s one player I’d love to see at Old Trafford, but he won’t come as he has an aversion to league titles.
Be tempted to sing Nemanja Vidic songs to him. Instead ask him why he wasn’t at the premiere of Awaydays on Thursday, when every lad in Liverpool seemed to be. As was Shaun Ryder.
Watch all the happy Everton fans arriving at Euston for the FA Cup final before catching a train to Manchester.
Miss younger brother Sam’s final Manchester United trial at Carrington. He’ll play against United’s U15s. He received a letter this week from United confirming his success in the first two trials. It will be framed.
I would have watched Arnau Riera in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden Park if the loon hadn’t got himself booked for diving in the semi-final. He’s been Falkirk’s man of the match several times recently and is a real fan favourite.
He was last spotted dancing around the pitch at Inverness on Saturday as Falkirk moved off the bottom of the table stayed up… by beating Inverness and sending them down.
Arnau is out of contract this summer. Sunderland held that contract as they have loaned him to Falkirk. Hopefully his decent form will put him in good stead for getting a contract at Falkirk or elsewhere.
We’d have him at Manchester La Fiana, who just finished third in the Barcelona International Football league under the fine stewardship of Scotsman Stephen Love.
Jordi Cruyff played in the league this season, but we’ll let Arnau finish his proper career first.
Fly from Manchester to Barcelona. Raise a massive red, white and black tricolour from the front of my apartment… in a massive Barca stronghold. Switch my brain off and sleep.
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Great blog Andy. Keep it up.
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