Frank Malley

08.06.06

There is a clearing in a rainforest somewhere in the Amazonian jungle which should be dedicated to Wayne Rooney and his famous metatarsal. I added to it this morning with another 1,000 words after hearing he had been passed as medically fit to play in the World Cup.

Caught the underground to Frottmaning, a suburb of Munich, to watch Costa Rica train at Bayern's futuristic stadium, which looks like a giant white Michelin tyre and glows in the dark.

I file a story for PA's international wire from the press conference, prior to the opening World Cup match against Germany. The conference was held almost entirely in Spanish, which is tricky, considering I speak no Spanish.

Thankfully, the Costa Rica coach Alexandre Guimaraes agrees to answer two questions in faltering English.

It's my third World Cup for PA and the team gets bigger each time — 10 staff sports reporters, six photographers and two news men, including hooligan-watch specialist Tim Moynihan who after years of keeping copytakers up all hours has finally abandoned the steam age and learned to file via laptop computer.

09.06.06

I file a preview comment prior to England's match against Paraguay after learning that bookies are offering 500-1 double on England winning the World Cup and Tim Henman winning Wimbledon. I discover you can get the same odds on Elvis turning up alive and well in Tesco.

Lunch with PA Sport's German correspondent Johannes Berendt before the opening match. German fans are singing Frank Skinner and David Baddiel's pension, Three Lions, the new version without "Nobby dancing" or "Lineker scoring", but still bizarre. Johannes says Germans are not bright enough to realise Three Lions is England's badge of patriotism. He can say that, he's German.

I file a story on the opening ceremony, during which Bobby Charlton led the boys of '66 in a parade of past champions.

I try to get a word with Sir Geoff Hurst, but am blocked from the VIP lounge by some German jobsworth.

Next to be filed is a comment on Germany's 4-2 win — the highest scoring opening match in World Cup history, and then a quotes piece from German coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

I clock up 2,000 words in all, for which the office are grateful.

A helpful sub even sent a message with the words "Philipp Lahm", one of the German goalscorers, in the header field.

Apparently in my typing haste I had spelt it Lam. Don't they realise Northerners always drop their 'aitches?

10.06.06

Up early for the 7.10am train to Frankfurt. I share the carriage with radio types including Five Live controller Bob Shennan, Head of BBC radio sport Gordon Turnbull, presenter Mark Pougatch, commentator Alan Green, former England manager Graham Taylor, reporter Juliette Ferrington, and so on. How many BBC execs does it take to cover one match?

Pougatch organises breakfast. Juliette tries to sleep for England. On leaving the train, Taylor spots I've left a suitcase in the overhead luggage rack. Thanks Graham.

Hotel Bristol in Frankfurt makes me wish I was back in Munich. I've gone from being able to swing a large cat to a box with barely room to swing a mouse. An early clue that it was not one of Frankfurt's finest came when the taxi driver had to flag down a colleague for directions. Quaintly, however, two welcoming lollipops were left on the pillows.

I pass the security screen for England v Paraguay. Bag check, body search, ticket scan, "are zer any weapons in ze bag?" questions. They call them security stewards here — yes, I thought the initials were interesting too.

There's nothing quite like being live at an England World Cup match. England fans at times can be mindless thugs.

They can also be dads hand-in-hand with sons and daughters, a sea of grinning faces, patriotic banners and heady anticipation.

Genuinely uplifting.

Not the greatest match, but England beat Paraguay 1-0.

Even more importantly, with no landline available, my Vodafone 3G card behaves itself, filing first time.

11.06.06

I phone the former England captain David Platt whose World Cup column I am ghosting for the regional press.

It's David's turn for morning duty with six-week-old first child Cody and we chat away about Sven, accompanied by his background gurgling. Cody's that is.

Attend Mass at Frankfurt's magnificent St Bartholomew's Cathedral, where the priest gives the sermon in fluent German and English to the muffled strains of the England supporters in nearby Paulsplatz singing There Were 10 German Bombers in the Air. Really, you couldn't make it up.

12.06.06

The trains — Richard Branson please note — are fabulous here. Their ICE (InterCity Express) services are invariably bang on time, run smoothly and with World Cup accreditation allowing first class travel, including power points and waiter service, they are a godsend for reporters working and filing on the move.

Up to Bremen, where Trinidad and Tobago have pitched camp in nearby Rotenburg. It's a far cry from England's luxurious base at Baden-Baden. I watch Dwight Yorke and his team-mates arrive at the training centre on bicycles.

It would have been quicker for me to take one myself to get the 20 miles back to Bremen. Instead I accept a generous offer of a lift from the aforementioned Ms Ferrington and spend the next three hours circling Bremen listening to dodgy sat-nav.

13.06.06

Back to Rotenburg for Trinidad's media day. The World Cup really is a great way of seeing the German countryside. I learn that PA's chief football writer Matt Barlow has electrocuted himself on a dodgy socket, though happily no serious damage.

And PA England reporter John Curtis, who famously wandered onto the Argentina team bus last time in Japan, this time ended up on the official Paraguay supporters' bus instead of the press transport.

14.06.06

It's Wednesday, it must be Nuremberg. Has it really been only a week so far? Must get to England's next press conference.

Must get laundry done. Must get German phrase book. Must get sleep.

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