World Cup 2006 Blog

From our reporters in Germany

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.

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