- 5 Jun 06, 07:39 PM
BADEN-BADEN - The World Cup came tantalisingly into view for the media party as we left Heathrow for Stuttgart at the start of our five-week campaign – and some time-honoured travel traditions were strictly observed.
Namely the customary parting of the ways for passengers and their luggage.
Thanks to a craft that revived memories of the glory days of Airfix models, there was no room for all luggage required to sustain the press pack through a gruelling stint in Germany.
So it was that we waved farewell to our cases and other crucial personal effects on the tarmac as they waited to board a flight to Frankfurt while we headed off in the direction of Stuttgart.
And once on board, it became clear why some heavy duty gear had to be jettisoned.
The craft was a “cosy” fit to say the least, with even those of us some may cruelly regard as vertically challenged leaving the flight with a pronounced and newly-acquired stoop.
It is to be hoped England’s squad were afforded more head and leg room on their flight.
The only way Peter Crouch would have made it to Stuttgart with us would have been by lying prone on a stretcher. Robotic dancing, or even standing upright, would have been out of the question.
Another tradition of the big tournament, the process of accreditation, was completed with (here it comes for the first and last time!) traditional Germany efficiency.
What can be a laborious process to receive your irreplaceable media badge was completed in a record-shattering ten minutes, including that horrific photograph and the often embarrassing middle name that will stand proudly on your chest throughout the tournament for all to see/mock.
It was all in sharp contrast to Japan 2002, when the carefully constructed system was reduced to rubble by the journalist who applied for tickets under the name of “Bob” while his passport read “Robert.”
Our Japanese hosts were unimpressed, and sensing an underhand attempt to slip under their radar, they were not put off the scent by the explanation from our intrepid traveller, who said: “Robert is the name I use on Sunday.”
The first big social event, aside from England’s opening press conference in Germany on Tuesday, is a reception thrown for the media later that night by Baden-Baden’s mayor Mrs. Dr Sigrun Lang at our excellent hotel.
Let's just hope the dinner jacket has arrived.