World Cup 2006 Blog

From our reporters in Germany

Anyone seen a Trinidad and Tobago shirt?

laura_smithspark.gifLONDON - When one of our readers Chris Balodis complained he was finding it impossible to find a Trinidad and Tobago replica shirt, we decided to find out why.

Chris wrote:

After months of hard searching, I cannot (I repeat CANNOT) purchase a Trinidad & Tobago world cup top online or in the stores! If it weren't for our Carnival style, we would officially be the most anonymous group of supporters in any World Cup. I'm actually amazed noone is complaining.

We can reveal that there is indeed a severe shortage of T&T shirts in the UK - and it's mainly down to the Scots.

Stacy-Marie Ishmael, spokeswoman for the Soca Warriors Supporters' Club says it's because no fewer than six of the Trinidad and Tobago squad are playing their club football in Scotland.

The fact that the fortuitously-named St Johnstone striker Jason Scotland (no surprises that official replicas of his jersey have been selling like hot cakes) is one of them has only added to their following among Scottish fans.
Nothing of course to do with the fact the Soca Warriors have been drawn against England in Group B...

Continue reading "Anyone seen a Trinidad and Tobago shirt?"

Crouch-bot

claire_stocks.gifLONDON - Photos of Peter Crouch's 80s robot dance are here.
Anfield Red has one better and has video of Crouch in action on the dance floor. Check out the footage of him on the mike too.
But if you want to see how the robot should be done don't miss this.
Wait for the boy in the orange sweater, seriously unbelievable!
Claire S - blog editor

Nasty habits

paul_fletcher.gifLONDON - This time next week I’ll be on my way to Germany with Ricco in our camper van.

Not knowing Ricco all that well, it will be the point at which we start to discover things about each other that will have a profound say on how the next five weeks pan out.

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Does Martin snore? Does he like Def Leppard? Is he always awake breathtakingly early? Has our Safe Driver course impressed on him the urge to suppress his boy racer instincts?

Conversely, I’m sure that Martin, who is currently enjoying some pre-trip time away with his wife, has similar concerns.

Continue reading "Nasty habits"

Flying the flag

claire_heald66.gifMANCHESTER - Peter Crouch's post-goal Robo-dancing was the strangest sight at Old Trafford on Tuesday night but England fans provided the most arresting one.

As the players lined up, supporters at each end of the ground held up thousands of red and white squares to form a giant cross of St George.

It takes a group of dedicated England followers all day to set it up but they say it brings people together and shows national pride.

Organisers hope to back a similar display in Germany - though underhand tactics might be needed due to get round a Fifa ban on bringing "multiple bits of paper" into stadia. (The ban is aimed at ticker tape and toilet rolls etc).

Is it to be dirty undies, fresh from the fans tour of Germany, that disguises what lies in the bag underneath? Of course, I cannot blow their patriotic cover.

You are my obsession

LONDON - As someone who sometimes thinks they might suffer from mild OCD tendencies (great doc on Radio 4's You and Yours on Monday) , one thing I love about football is how it makes it ok to be obsessive.

So, come on, let's hear your tales of obsession & football...giant_balls203.jpg


Here's a couple to get you started: Mark Poole is Scottish but that hasn't stopped him getting into the spirit of things (incidentally, our boss Roger Mosey is talking about the difficulties of being the British Broadcasting Corporation when only England are in the World Cup on our editor's blog).

Mark plans to find a pub in London that is home to each of the 32 teams competing in the World Cup and watch each game there As he puts it:

I thought Portugal, Poland and Brazil would be easy, but does London have an Angolan community? What about Paraguay? And what sort of venue would Saudis choose to watch the game? Mind you, given my congested fixture list, any break from alcohol would prove very welcome.

But Mark's fixation is surpassed by Gman writing at My Sofa World Cup....

Continue reading "You are my obsession"

Seeking serendipity

claire_heald66.gifLONDON - It's one of the longest games of keepy-uppy the world has seen. Two England fans are kicking a football - and not just any ball, what they call the 'olympic torch for the World Cup' - from the UK to Germany.

The Spirit of Football 2006 is the follow up to Christian Wach and Phil Wake's 2002 effort, when they took 10 weeks to kick a ball to Seoul.

Then they enjoyed the highs of football with Tibetan monks, the lows of someone stealing the ball in China - they asked for it back - and found that an impromptu game broke down barriers in every country en route.

"The guiding light of the whole trip is serendipity" says Christian. "Carrying a football got us out of tricky situations and into places we wouldn't have been able to go - like Kyrgyzstan."

Continue reading "Seeking serendipity"

Have you seen this man?

paul_fletcher.gifLONDON - Help needed. During the World Cup I am very keen to find a man called Didi Senft.

He rides a very large bicycle and usually follows the Tour de France, though I’m told that this year he will be in his native Germany for the World Cup.

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Senft also dresses as a red devil, is a bit of an eccentric and the wheels on his bike look like huge footballs.

I would very much like to meet him and have a go on his bike - any ideas where we can find him?

Continue reading "Have you seen this man?"

Some Friday afternoon entertainment

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LONDON - I’m usually the last to know about stuff so apologies if you have seen this before but hats off to these guys at Manchester Metropolitan University for this video spoof on the Nike football ad.
Did they really fail all their exams as a result? Anyone know any more about them? Perhaps they should enter our very own keepy-uppy competition? Guys - get in touch!

Anyway, thanks for letting me know about your blogs – keep ‘em coming. I’m adding the best to our blog roll.
It’s not about the World Cup, or even sport, or anything really so why did this make me giggle?

If you're going to Germany you may want to get in touch with this merry band of bloggers...
Sadly, we've had to turn down volunteers to join our camper van crew, Fletch and Ricco.
But you can apply to join this lot hanging out in a free flat in Berlin apparently...

Continue reading "Some Friday afternoon entertainment"

Only a game

tom_geoghegan.gifLONDON - Spare a thought for John Reeve, from Essex, who is currently 330 miles into his 500-mile charity walk from Wembley to Frankfurt. His son Tim died of leukaemia last December, before the 23-year-old Leeds fan had realised his dream to see England play at the World Cup.

So Mr Reeve has taken up his son’s ambition on foot - starting the day of the FA Cup final and due to arrive at the stadium in Frankfurt the morning of England’s first game - while raising funds for the Tim Reeve Memorial Trust.

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Last night, speaking from a village about 30km from Liege, he told me he was ahead of schedule but nursing a very sore ankle.

“Tim’s memory drives me an awful lot,” he said. “You remember the happy times but when it gets hard you think what he went through and you realise it’s nothing at all. It seems like he's with me all the way, which is good."

Let the games begin

Martin Richardson
LONDON - If your office is anything like this one, although I'll grant you at BBC Sport we've got a few more football fanatics than at most, you'll have been deluged with invitations to join various World Cup sweepstakes/predictions/competitions etc.

Out of about eight such invitations I've managed to narrow myself down to four: a fantasy game run by the Metro, a predictions competition with my football mates, plus our very own World Cup Daq.

I'll also be proving my mettle against my fellow bloggers on Radio Five Live's Challenge Lawro - You're all going down!!!!.

Anyway, I'm poring over the list for the fantasy football game - £100m to spend on 12 players, no more than two from a country - and I'm looking for the surprise packages of the tournament that'll make the difference - everyone will have Ronaldinho.

Continue reading "Let the games begin"

Two weeks and counting

paul_fletcher.gifOK, OK, so the tournament actually starts in 16 days but our journey begins in two weeks.

We sail to Calais and will then head to our first destination – Dortmund.

From Dortmund we plan to travel to Munich, via Frankfurt and Stuttgart, and then up to Nuremberg towards the end of the group stage.

We have a pretty loose schedule and are keen to read your suggestions as to where we should go and what we should do.

Continue reading "Two weeks and counting"

Ominous words

ronaldinho203.jpgLONDON - "Now my focus is on the World Cup. . ." These are the ominous words of the world's greatest footballer Ronaldinho, who refuses to bask in the glory of Barcelona's Champions League triumph in his latest blog entry.

A timely reminder, that whether Wayne Rooney is declared fit or not on Thursday, England will probably have to go through Brazil and Ronaldinho to win football's greatest prize.

The defending champs will be training in Switzerland. England are just back from Portugal. So where are the rest of the World Cup teams limbering up? Let us know if you have any inside information - perhaps they are training in your home town.

Alex Trickett, Blog Editor

"Tickets, any spare tickets?"

claire_heald66.gifLONDON - The number of tickets for England supporters for their World Cup matches has been stirring up fans' consternation since allocation day. They have just eight per cent - that's around 4,000-5,000 - at each group game. Meanwhile, the sponsor companies share 500,000 for the tournament - one sixth of the total tickets.

About 100,000 England fans are expected to travel Germany to soak up the atmosphere - but mostly they'll be doing that outside the ground. So the Football Supporters' Federation has launched a petition to protest.

It accepts that sponsors contribute cash to the game, but as the federation's Alan Bloore puts it: "I know a lad who follows England abroad, but he hasn't got one ticket. Yet somebody could go and buy a beer, burger or cola and get a ticket for an England match. I'll argue black and blue that it's wrong."

If you've missed out on tickets so far, maybe the last-gasp chance to go through sponsors' promotions is a good thing? If not, there's always the petition, bound for Fifa boss Sepp Blatter when it's complete.

In answer to your questions. . .

bbcsport_logo.gifLONDON - Nick raised some questions in reply to Ricco's latest entry and I have been in touch with Roger Mosey, director of BBC Sport, to get some answers.

Why do you have Ian Wright as part of your television coverage for the World Cup?

RM: All pundits divide opinion - and they have fans and critics. We believe Ian Wright brings a fresh and different point-of-view to our panels, and he's a good part of the mix.

Why does the BBC feel the need to take 300 people to Germany for the World Cup?

RM: The World Cup will be the BBC's biggest outside broadcast of the year - and it will be covered extensively on television, radio and online as well as by our news services at home and abroad. To do this properly, we need the appropriate number of staff in Germany. But on these kind of major events our staffing levels compare favourably with other international broadcasters, and our priority is delivering quality to our audiences.

Will the total cost of the BBC's World Cup coverage be published?

Continue reading "In answer to your questions. . ."

Your blogs

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A lot of you are already telling us about your blogs which is great and I'm enjoying reading them all.
There is some video of Theo Walcott training here, and two mad fans (an Englishman and a Scot) hosting a daily free fans podcast here .
Phil McThomas, 35 (Middlesbrough fan) and Tony Wildey, 31 (Hearts) say they have an insatiable appetite for football and conceived the idea "in the middle of a rant about the dearth of soccer podcasts".
The favourite thing I've come across is a list of World Cup rules for the fridge on a blog run by a chap called Ian living in Barcelona. It is wildly sexist - but hilarious of course. My favourite is Rule 3:

Continue reading "Your blogs"

Who would want to be in Big Brother?

Martin Richardson
LONDON - Having watched the Big Brother launch yesterday, one major question occurred to me. Who would want to lock themselves up in a house with no televisions with the World Cup three weeks away. . ??

As I'm at the age when a lot of the people I know seem to be getting married, five of them this year, I'm proud of the way they have all managed to dodge the bullet in June and July.

Well all except one who is getting hitched the day of the third/fourth place play-off, a game in which, even if England are playing, most of the population will have little interest - anybody remember the 1990 game against Italy?(video link) Me neither.

I'm lucky in that my job provides me the mandate to clear the decks, shun all my friends and family and concentrate on giving my all to the World Cup - I'm sure you'd expect nothing less. Is there anything on the horizon that you are already planning a cunning excuse for?

A dear old aunt's birthday on the day England meet Sweden?
A big meeting at work when Argentina face Holland?
Surely not a PTA meeting when Angola play Iran?

Fussball's coming home

tom_geoghegan.gifLONDON - Just back from an evening spent with England fans dilligently learning some German footy phrases, courtesy of the Goethe Institute, who took over a pub in north London.

Organised by LondonEnglandfans, it was all a bit of fun - "red card" was "rote Karte" or alternatively "Jens Lehmann".
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But more importantly, it underlined the determination of many supporters, and the hosts, to make this a fan-friendly tournament held in the best possible spirit.

Some fans present had 300 England games under their belts and for them, having witnessed the dark days of the 70s and 80s, this language class was further evidence of rehabilitation.

Of course, that didn't stop a few asking cheekily for the translation of "5-1" and "The ball did cross the line!"

England gets ready

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FARO - Even when England are indulging in a spot of relaxation and team-bonding the media pack is never too far away although at least we were invited by the FA to enjoy a day on the Algarve, unlike the paparazzi who've been holed up in the sand dunes all week hoping to snap something which might interest someone somewhere.

They must have been gutted that Coleen and Victoria aren't here although the absence of big names like Rooney, Beckham and Gerrard and the FA determination not to over-expose Theo Walcott made it an unusually low-key afternoon although that will all change when the circus rolls into Baden-Baden in a couple of weeks.

Which prompts me to ask are the fans as obsessed with the minute detail of a World Cup campaign as we appear to be? On my first day as England reporter at Euro 2004 I did a 15-hour shift in which the sole topic of conversation was John Terry's tight hamstring which made him a doubt for the first game. Were the nation as gripped as we were?

At least there are some proper injuries to speculate on this time. By the time Michael Owen had got to the radio reporters via half-a-dozen TV crews and a table full of the written press his monologue on his fitness was word-perfect. Wayne Rooney must be relieved he's still in the oxygen tent to aviod similar grillings. We also learnt how John Terry is getting ready for the arrival of twins and just what a nice bloke Peter Crouch is even though he was the only member of the squad not to complete the 'crossbar challenge' in training.

Just when it seems nothing really newsworthy was happening there was a commotion during Sven's media conference. Chairs, tables and anyone under 12 stone went flying as photographers scrambled to get a decent shot. Had Rooney arrived to announce he would be fit? Had Big Phil popped in to say he'd had a change of heart? No, Theo Walcott and his girlfriend were using the hotel cash-point. Roll on Germany...........

Top marks for trying

LONDON - An early contender for 'top World Cup chancer' is a reader of this blog who made the offer below. Sadly we turned him down, not least because of the miles of BBC red tape that would have been involved. But we like his style!

"I'm a freelance football writer but unfortunately was unsuccessful in my attempt to get accreditation for the World Cup (but like the Murphys I'm not bitter).

Anyway, I was wondering if there was any space on the camper van (sorry, motor home) for one more?

I could bring an interesting dimension to the trip given that my country is a footballing non-entity (though Walter's turning things around slowly) and the 'Auld Enemy', England, have a very real chance of winning football's greatest prize.
I'd love to hear from you, all the best
PS: If you agree to this, I promise to do all the cooking for the duration of the trip...and the washing up. I'm sure the boys on the van would appreciate this. Shall I pack my bags then? Or would you like to see some of my work first"

Nice try!
Claire S - blog editor

Carry on camper van

fletch203.jpgLONDON - Hello I'm Paul Fletcher, one half of "Fletch and Ricco" - we'll be the most regular contributors to this World Cup blog.

Our blog starts for real when we leave England for Germany on 7 June, but don’t for a moment think that we haven’t already been busy.

Ricco (Martin Richardson) and I will travel around Germany in a mobile home and with this in mind recently went on a day’s driver training with one of the best in the business - Ronny Mapes.

“Ronny,” said Ronny, “has a saying for everything.” And he really wasn’t joking.

“If it's clear grab a gear”, “Brakes to slow, gears to go” and “More paint, more danger”, are just a selection of Mapes' wisdom.

We met at a car park off the A3 south of London early in the morning and for the next few hours learnt how to drive the Ronny way.

Continue reading "Carry on camper van"

Welcome to our World Cup blog

bbcsport_logo.gifLONDON - Welcome to BBC Sport's World Cup Blog. Over the next eight weeks, this is where our team of reporters will share all the colour, gossip, anecdotes and emotion of the biggest sporting event in the world.

At the heart of the blog are Fletch and Ricco. We'll roll out the red carpet for their camper van as it trundles out of Television Centre on 7 June bound for Germany. Our dynamic duo have only the roughest of schedules laid out and will fill up their days and nights by acting on your suggestions, tip-offs and questions. Their aim is to be your eyes and ears in Germany, so send in your ideas - left to their own devices they are likely to end up in beer tents and bratwurst parlours...

Fletch and Ricco will be ably assisted by a strong cast of writers from across the BBC, including Match of the Day reporter Celina Hinchcliffe and Five Live correspondent Nigel Adderley. For the first time, they'll be revealing exactly how we bring a World Cup to your televisions, radios, computers, mobiles etc. For a full list of contributors check this link.

But it's not just about our staff in Germany. We're also keen to hear about and link out to the best of your World Cup blogs, so please draw our attention to them by commenting below.

This blog is all about creating a dialogue between you and our bloggers, so please feel free to offer your thoughts at any time. And have a look at our guidelines and house rules.

That's it - my fellow Blog Editors (Claire Stocks and Bridget Chandler) and I will pitch in from time to time with further guidance or help. But in the meantime, happy blogging!
Alex Trickett, blog editor.

About the authors

Paul Fletcher (Fletch):

paul_fletcher.gifI’m a football writer for the BBC website and will be blogging my way around Germany with my co-pilot Martin Richardson (Ricco).

We are very keen to hear your ideas as to what you would like us to do during the tournament, though anything involving lederhosen will be instantly rejected (unless Martin has to wear them).

I follow Preston North End and firmly believe Sir Tom Finney to be the greatest player ever to walk the earth (despite the fact he retired 13 years before I was born). England cricketer Andrew Flintoff once failed to hit me off the square during a junior cricket match, though at 13 he was four years younger than me.

Since moving to London I have been developing my skills as a professional northerner, extolling the virtues of more or less anything from the twin Kingdoms of Lancashire and Yorkshire.

That said, I very much enjoy trying to broaden my horizons through travel and look forward to finding out just how good Martin actually is at speaking German during the World Cup.

Martin Richardson (Ricco):

martin_richardson.gifI work with the multimedia team of the BBC Sport website, providing on-demand videos and live broadcasts for all the sports under the sun, from the Premiership to the Winter Olympics snowboard cross and have been spending my time recently wading through the BBC archives for our World Cup pages.

I came to the BBC via stints in Germany and France and am more than looking forward to returning to the Motherland this summer alongside Paul Fletcher (Fletch) in a camper van built for two, well three actually - with generous disabled access.

But Germany's a big place and we'll be asking for your help to guide us along the way - we want to be the eyes and ears, and most importantly wheels, of all those fans watching on from afar.

I love playing sport and I'll give anything a go as long as it involves a stick or a ball, especially golf and football. When I'm not doing that I suffer from unhealthy obsessions with video games, Deal or No Deal and Girls Aloud.

I expect my biggest challenges during the World Cup will be lasting five weeks in a cosy camper van with a self-confessed professional northerner, and not gorging myself on endless Currywursts - "Mmmmm, lecker" as they might say in Munich.

Nigel Adderley:

nigel_adderley.gifDespite the photo I'm only 34 and this is my first World Cup as a commentator which is very exciting. I was bracing myself for a steady diet of hammerings for Saudi Arabia and Togo so finding out I was doing Brazil's first match in Berlin was a very pleasant surprise!

I think the experience will be very different to South Korea four years ago where I was one of Five Live's reporters. We were swept along on a red tide of emotion and due to the time difference, could stay out all night, sleep until mid-afternoon and still be around to appear on Breakfast. It's taken me until now to lose the weight I piled on eating Korean barbeques at five am.

I've already been to the African Cup of Nations in Egypt this year and assume this tournament won't be the organisational shambles that was. It did allow me to see the five African teams heading to Germany and to be honest Ghana, Togo, Angola and Tunisia didn't really perform at all. But Ivory Coast are the sort of dour, well organised team who could do well. My prediction is they will knock out either Holland or Argentina and reach round two - thoughts?

Away from the job, most time is spent on entertaining my daughter Daisy and cooking from the Nigel Slater book I got for Christmas. Miscellaneous dislikes : smoking, bad manners. Who would I most like to meet : Rod Stewart or The Pope. Best friend in football : I like to think I have many. Thank you.

Paul Atherton:

paul_atherton.gifI work for Match of the Day, Football Focus and Score, running the programme websites and liaising between the television and online teams.

I joined the BBC Sport website five years ago after completing a post-graduate degree in online journalism, initially on the multimedia team (which is responsible for the audio and video on the site), then on the news desk. I've been working with the TV football team for about three years.

I'll be based at the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) in Munich during the World Cup, working alongside the TV production team. I'll attempt to explain exactly what goes on there during my posts (in other words, I'm not quite sure myself!).

Outside of work, you may be surprised to hear football is my number one interest. Manchester United are my team (although I'm from Bolton - there goes my credibility). And my sporting claim to fame is being offered and turning down a trial with PSV when I was 12, but no one seems to believe me.

My ambitions? To finish the season as Man Utd's top goalscorer. That's it.

James Bridgeman:

james_bridgeman.gifI'll be out in Germany as Radio Five Live's Interactive producer - so I'll be trying to give you the inside track on what it's like covering a World Cup with the UK's biggest news and sport radio station.

For those of you who read the words "interactive producer" and immediately look puzzled, here's what it means: I'll be going behind the scenes with the presenters out there - in particular, Nicky Campbell for Breakfast and Victoria Derbyshire in the mid-mornings, with photos, diaries, video diaries and more.

I'm also going to produce our daily World Cup podcast, presented by Simon Mayo, featuring the best of our audio from Germany each day.

Personally, it'll be my first time covering a World Cup, so I'll be doing my best to keep calm and impartial. Honest. And if you've ever had any burning questions about what goes on out there, I'll try to get you some answers.

Tom Geoghegan:

tom_geoghegan.gifI'm a news journalist who will be following England fans during the group stages of the tournament.

My features will be metatarsal-free, you may be relieved to hear, focusing instead on the experiences and passions of England's extraordinary support, which could number 100,000.

So I'll be steering clear of matters on the pitch. After all, what does a Crystal Palace supporter know about football anyway?

The World Cup also coincides with my retirement from competitive football after 25 years, latterly at the Norbury Powerleague in south London. But please, no fuss - let Alan Shearer have his moment.

Claire Heald:

claire_heald66.gifIt'll be a struggle to tear myself away from watching the World Cup on TV with friends. But it's in a good cause - to trail the thousands of fans following England around Germany.

I work on the UK desk of the BBC News website so my usual domain is news. But my all-round sporting knowledge has improved a lot since a (long-ago) trip to the Oval, when friends convinced me Andrew Flintoff was Freddie's identical twin brother.

Not a team player - is it a crime to admit that at work? - my sports are running and cycling. By the time I've covered my desk in bike bits and running gear, it can look like the office is something I fit in between my daily endorphin kicks.

During a spell living and working in Australia, a highlight was covering the Olympic Games and I saw how sport and a worldwide event can transform a country.

Celina Hinchcliffe:

celina_hinchcliffe2.gifI have worked for the BBC for five years, starting as a reporter at BBC Southern Counties. If you told me back then when I was reporting on Crawley Town that I'd be going to the World Cup, I'd have probably keeled over at the Broadfield Stadium.

Football is my passion in life, Sheffield Wednesday my team. So while all of my school mates had pictures of New Kids on the Block and River Phoenix stuck on their leverarch files, I proudly sported a laminated photo of my footballing hero Chris Waddle.

While over in Germany, I'll be on the road presenting from the host cities for the BBC TV's highlights programme. I'd love to hear from readers about what entertaining things are happening in these cities, where to go and what the fans are up to.

It's not just watching football that I'm passionate about - I love playing footy, golf, tennis and skiing.

Phil McNulty:

phil_mcnulty.gifI have been chief football writer for the BBC Sport website for six years, covering the 2002 World Cup in Japan and Euro 2004 in Portugal, and I will be following England again in Germany.

I was born in Liverpool and had previously worked for local and national newspapers, covering the contrasting fortunes of Everton and Liverpool - and with a long enough memory to recall when both were champions and Chelsea were a mere twinkle in Roman Abramovich's eye.

I'll be based in Baden Baden - although not at the fortress that will be England's team hotel - and I'll bring you daily insight on how England's campaign is developing and the mood in the camp.

The height of my football career was "starring" in a Press v Wales match at what is now the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, sharing a pitch (if not the ball) with the likes of Ryan Giggs, Gary Speed and Neville Southall. It's been all downhill since then.

I'm led to believe "Posh" Spice is also staying at my hotel, so there may be gossip for the entertainment pages as well.

Matthew Roberts:

matthew_roberts.gifI'm an Assistant Producer working for BBC TV Sport. I used to work as a journalist for BBC News and, before that, ITV News.

In Germany, I'm looking after one of our roving TV teams as we travel to various locations doing reports on different teams ahead of their matches, as well as going to matches to do interviews and filming for World Cup Match of the Day. There'll be four of us working as part of the team. Ivan Gaskell is the reporter (henceforth known as Gaskers), Cameraman Sean Twamley (Twammers) and picture editor Paul Hagan (you guessed it - Hagers).

We're going to be based in Cologne, in the West. There are 3 World Cup Stadiums in quite a small area (Cologne, Dortmund and Gelsenkirchen) and a lot of teams staying in the area, so we're going to be working flat out (we're already arguing about the driving) and stretching my GCSE German well beyond breaking point.

Personally, I can't wait for the tournament to start. Previous World Cup highlights have included being thrown into a hedge after a misunderstanding (!) with a Japanese satellite engineer, trying to film 5m Korean football fans partying in the streets of Seoul and sharing the breakfast buffet with Nancy Dell'Olio.

A cracking summer awaits. . .

Mandeep Sanghera:

mandeep_sanghera.gifI’m one of the football writers on the website and I’m basically doing what amounts to my dream job. I'll be reporting from some of the biggest non-England matches in Germany.

I was captivated by football during Espana '82 and have been in love with it since.

I got my break in the profession while at university and then had the privilege of working for The Daily Telegraph as a freelance journalist and then could not say no when I had the chance to fulfil one of my lifetime ambitions to work for the BBC.

I did a post-graduate degree in broadcast journalism as well and, although I'm sure you're probably nodding off by now, we have to do this to give you a little insight into ourselves.

My mum and dad will probably be the only ones enjoying it but I promise I'll try and keep you a lot more interested with my tales as I travel around Germany covering the World Cup.

Laura Smith-Spark:

laura_smithspark.gifHi, I'm Laura and I'm more usually found writing for the BBC News website's world desk. I arrived at the BBC three-and-a-half years ago, having kicked off my career on local papers in West Yorkshire.

My sporting claim to fame is having played rugby for England Students (yes, I was a hooker), beating Wales and Scotland in the process. Having peaked at 21, I've been in decline ever since.

However, I saw the sense of swapping an oval ball for a round one and have been playing 11-a-side and five-a-side for the past three years. Despite having no discernible left foot I've mostly been playing left back. I also like running, tennis and skiing and am a recent convert to cycling.

As a Leeds United fan I'm hoping for a return to the glory days. After all, it's not so long ago that we were in the Champions League…

Sam Wilson:

sam_wilson.gifNormally confined to the newsroom in London, as a reporter for the BBC News website's world desk, I can't wait to join the party in Germany.

Unfortunately, I'm not flying in till the later stages, so have fingers crossed that England last that long.

I'm actually following some of the other teams in the tournament, so won't be on the trail of England or their fans (it has been suggested this might not be a bad thing..?)

Reckon Italy look good value at 15/2 for the tournament. (Do I sound like I know what I'm talking about..?)

Blog Editors:

bbcsport_logo.gifThe blog will usually be edited by one of three journalists - either Claire Stocks, Bridget Chandler or Alex Trickett. We'll be sitting in BBC Television Centre, London, while the rest of our blog team works really hard (lives it up??) in Germany.

We may have to get tough from time to time to make sure this blog stays clean and on topic, but we are basically here to help things run smoothly and to be a point of contact between you and the bloggers.

In particular, we'll all be liaising with Fletch and Ricco (who are very much the cornerstone of this blog) on a daily basis to make sure that their camper van odyssey around Germany follows some of the twists and turns that you suggest.

This blog is one of a series being trialled across the BBC so we're also here to field any questions or suggestions about it, or the BBC's approach to blogging in general, so ask away here, or email us.

Happy blogging!

About this blog

Welcome to BBC Sport's World Cup Blog.

Our aim is simple - to share daily behind-the-scenes access to the biggest football tournament on earth. That means plenty of gossip, anecdotes and photos. And our reporters around Germany will also reveal just what it takes to bring a World Cup to your televisions, radios, and computer screens.

Our bloggers include TV reporter Celina Hinchcliffe and Five Live's Nigel Adderley, while dynamic duo "Fletch and Ricco" will be driving across Germany in a camper van, acting on some of your suggestions and presenting a genuine "fan's eye" view of the World Cup. For a full list of contributors, check our "About the authors" page.

For the uninitiated, blogs (or weblogs) work like this:

The most recent posts appear at the top of the page. And at the bottom of every entry are two links:
• "Permalink" allows you to bookmark a particular post, or to send it by e-mail to a friend
• "Comments" invites you to offer your reaction to that entry, or read those of others
Comments are what set a blog apart from a traditional column because they create an immediate dialogue between the audience and author. Our contributors will be reading and responding to some of your comments and acting on some of your suggestions.

On the right hand side of the page, you will see a calendar and a list of authors. Click on a date to see that day's items or on an author to view only his or her contributions to the blog.

You can also use an RSS feed of this blog. For more information, please visit our help page.

Please keep your comments clean. Those which fail our house rules may be removed. If you see a post that is inappropriate, alert us by using the "complain about this post" link and we will act accordingly.

You should be aware of our privacy policy.

And do try to keep your comments short and relevant to the posts they answer. We will delete off-topic posts because we want to keep this blog focused on the World Cup experience. Readers looking for longer or broader discussions on the intracacies of England's formation or pre/post-match debate should visit our message boards.

And those who are interested in the way we cover sport, might want to visit our Sport Editors' Blog. For specific complaints about the BBC Sport website, please email us here.

That's it - we hope you enjoy the World Cup blog and look forward to talking to you.

House Rules

We reserve the right to fail messages which:
• Are considered likely to provoke, attack or offend others
• Are racist, sexist, homophobic, sexually explicit, abusive or otherwise objectionable
• Contain swear words or other language likely to offend
• Break the law or condone or encourage unlawful activity. This includes breach of copyright, defamation and contempt of court.
• Advertise products or services for profit
• Are seen to impersonate someone else
• Repeatedly post the same or similar messages ('spam')
• Are unrelated to the topic
• Include contact details such as telephone numbers and postal or email addresses
• Are written in anything other than English - Welsh and Gaelic may be used where marked
• Contain links to other websites which break our Editorial Guidelines
• Describe or encourage activities which could endanger the safety or well-being of others
We may also occasionally close comments on a post if we think the discussion has become irrelevant.

The BBC welcomes feedback, both positive and negative, but we want to keep our blog as focused on the tournament, and people's experiences of it, as possible. For this reason, messages not relevant to the post will be removed. Please consider directing coverage comments to our Sport Editors' Blog at https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/sporteditors/.

If you have a complaint about anything on the website, please email us here.

Repeatedly posting personal or offensive comments about individual members of the public or people who work for the BBC may be considered harassment. We reserve the right to remove such messages and take action against those responsible.

About Laura Smith-Spark

laura_smithspark.gifHi, I'm Laura and I'm more usually found writing for the BBC News website's world desk. I arrived at the BBC three-and-a-half years ago, having kicked off my career on local papers in West Yorkshire.

My sporting claim to fame is having played rugby for England Students (yes, I was a hooker), beating Wales and Scotland in the process. Having peaked at 21, I've been in decline ever since.

However, I saw the sense of swapping an oval ball for a round one and have been playing 11-a-side and five-a-side for the past three years. Despite having no discernible left foot I've mostly been playing left back. I also like running, tennis and skiing and am a recent convert to cycling.

As a Leeds United fan I'm hoping for a return to the glory days. After all, it's not so long ago that we were in the Champions League…

About Claire Heald

claire_heald66.gifIt'll be a struggle to tear myself away from watching the World Cup on TV with friends. But it's in a good cause - to trail the thousands of fans following England around Germany.

I work on the UK desk of the BBC News website so my usual domain is news. But my all-round sporting knowledge has improved a lot since a (long-ago) trip to the Oval, when friends convinced me Andrew Flintoff was Freddie's identical twin brother.

Not a team player - is it a crime to admit that at work? - my sports are running and cycling. By the time I've covered my desk in bike bits and running gear, it can look like the office is something I fit in between my daily endorphin kicks.

During a spell living and working in Australia, a highlight was covering the Olympic Games and I saw how sport and a worldwide event can transform a country.

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