World Cup 2006 Blog

From our reporters in Germany

Over and out

paul_fletcher.gif LONDON - Here I sit in my flat, surrounded by dirty washing, cut-price World Cup tat and a huge joint of cured ham that I bought in France on Monday.

When I woke up this morning Ricco was nowhere to be seen - most strange and somewhat refreshing after five weeks of my co-blogger being the first person I have clapped eyes on every morning.

Continue reading "Over and out"

Homeward bound

MartinTHE ENGLISH CHANNEL – Our ferry will shortly dock at Dover and our blog adventure will come to an end.

It’s quite hard to look back over the last few weeks as it seemed to whip by so quickly, the memories are all a bit of blur at the moment, but I’m sure in a few weeks I’ll be able to pinpoint my favourite incidents more clearly.

Check out the video as we say goodbye to mainland Europe

Continue reading "Homeward bound"

Svan heading home

paul_fletcher.gif BELGIUM - It seems strange to no longer be in Germany. It feels strange to write that sentence.

I guess my moment of realisation that the party was actually over came when the fireworks exploded over the Olympic Stadium on Sunday.

This sensation was rammed home this morning when I looked at Bild newspaper. For the last four weeks the 'i' in the spelling on the cover has been replaced by the World Cup trophy. No longer.

Continue reading "Svan heading home"

Last stop Cologne

MartinCOLOGNE - This is it then, our final night in Germany spent having a great meal by the banks of the Rhine in a southern suburb of Cologne with one of our many new found friends, actor Joachim Krol.

And, like Fletch, the hospitality of the German people towards the hordes of invading strangers will stick with me for a long time.

Continue reading "Last stop Cologne"

Thank you Germany

paul_fletcher.gif COLOGNE - The World Cup is over for another four years and Ricco and I are heading home.

We have just arrived in Cologne, where we will spend our final night in Germany, after a six-hour drive from Berlin. With the dust settling on the tournament I think it is a good time to reflect - after all I have witnessed much, learnt a lot and had a great deal of fun in my time in Germany.

Continue reading "Thank you Germany"

Gate-crashing the World Cup party

MartinBERLIN – Fletch and I worked out at that we are two of less than a million people on this planet to see to the current World Cup trophy lifted in person.

Obviously Fletch was comfortably seated in his press place for the whole game whereas I had to chance my arm in a late dash into the stadium, after the end of the action but before the prize was hoisted aloft.

Continue reading "Gate-crashing the World Cup party"

A fitting final for the World Cup?

paul_fletcher.gif BERLIN - What did you think of the World Cup final?

I thought it was a really enjoyable game in which the momentum changed sides several times and contained no little drama - Zinedine Zidane's red card, his early penalty which brought the game to life, the penalty shoot-out and some truly remarkable celebrations from the ecstatic Italian players.

Continue reading "A fitting final for the World Cup?"

The last hurrah

paul_fletcher.gif BERLIN - After sleeping in 24 different places in 33 days chasing the World Cup - its stories, its atmosphere, its way of life - we come to the end of the road.

In just a few hours time the 64th and final match of the tournament will take place at the Olympic Stadium - two stops away on the S-bahn from our now crowded campsite.

Continue reading "The last hurrah"

Third place celebrations

MartinBERLIN - It's World Cup final day, but you could be forgiven for thinking the main event took place last night, such were the scenes after Germany's victory over Portugal in the third/fourth place play-off.

Traffic came to a standstill along Kurfuerstendamm as hordes of supporters spilled onto the streets, people were standing up out of the sunroof of their cars waving the German flag and beeping their horns.

Continue reading "Third place celebrations"

Where are the finalists?

paul_fletcher.gif BERLIN - By this I mean supporters, not players.

Ricco and I travelled into the centre of Berlin on Saturday afternoon with the specific purpose of finding Italian and French fans - what we encountered instead were thousands of German supporters heading to the Fans Fest for their team's third/fourth place play-off game.

Check out the video.

Continue reading "Where are the finalists?"

Awoken by the rain

MartinBERLIN - The weather has finally broken in Germany, after 30 days of unrelenting heat the storm clouds have arrived over Berlin.

After yesterday’s downpour when we were trapped in a station, both Fletch and I woke up bright and early this morning – about five – with the rain hammering down on Svan’s roof.

Continue reading "Awoken by the rain"

The heavens open over Berlin

paul_fletcher.gif BERLIN - Ricco and I were heading back to the campsite after visiting an English family living in Berlin when an almighty thunderstorm broke out.

From our perspective there were two interesting consequences to this.

Continue reading "The heavens open over Berlin"

Life in Svan

paul_fletcher.gif BERLIN - The World Cup is almost over and it's time perhaps to try to provide a glimpse of what it has been like living in Svan for the past month.

We are currently parked in a temporary campsite somewhere in Berlin. In an effort to disguise the fact that we are basically in what looks like a abandoned piece of land the owners have laid sand over the entire area and dubbed it a crazy beach party.

Continue reading "Life in Svan"

All roads lead to Berlin, don't they?

MartinBERLIN - It's all we've heard about these last four weeks, the city that's in every song and is the ultimate destination of all those who dreamed of being succesful at this World Cup.

Well we've finally arrived in Berlin, where the final will be played on Sunday, and it is curiously quiet.

Continue reading "All roads lead to Berlin, don't they?"

German hospitality

MartinHELMSTEDT - There is always a bit of risk in accepting an invitation to a stranger's house.

So we weren't quite sure what to expect when blog reader Stephan offered us beer and a barbecue at his mate Sebastian's place while watching the France v Portugal semi-final.

Continue reading "German hospitality"

Happy now?

paul_fletcher.gif DORTMUND - I said on Tuesday that I did not want Germany to win the World Cup.

As I sat in the stadium in Dortmund on Tuesday evening I was stunned by the manner in which my wish came true.

Continue reading "Happy now?"

The greatest party that never was

MartinDORTMUND - For the second time in four days I was there, in the thick of it waiting for the boiling atmosphere to bubble over and the party to start.

But again the atmosphere was killed in a second - the second it took Fabio Grosso to curl the ball round Jens Lehmann and into the net to set Germany on the way to World Cup semi-final defeat.

Continue reading "The greatest party that never was"

The last journey

MartinESSEN - After the semi-final between Italy and Germany in Dortmund we will get on the road towards Svan's final destination in Germany - Berlin.

We've been on the road for four weeks now and Berlin has always been the shining light at the end of our blog tunnel - but we're going to be a bit early for the final, so we want your suggestions of something to do on the way.

Continue reading "The last journey"

Germany to win? I don't think so

paul_fletcher.gif DORTMUND - I'm not going to make many friends saying this but I do NOT want Germany to win the World Cup.

I've spoken to quite a few England fans over the last few days who have expressed the view that they would be happy to see Michael Ballack lift the World Cup trophy in Berlin on Sunday - and a few people on this blog have expressed a similar sentiment, not to mention my fellow bloggers Paul Armstrong and Paul Atherton.

Continue reading "Germany to win? I don't think so"

Help, my lungs are burning!

paul_fletcher.gif ESSEN - Four laps of a running track. Easy right?

If only I could say that was true but after running a mile for Sport Relief on Monday evening I felt the cool touch of the grim reaper on my shoulder and the hot burning sensation of the devil in my lungs.

Check out the video.

Continue reading "Help, my lungs are burning!"

Heading to Rheindahlen

paul_fletcher.gif DUSSELDORF - Ricco and I are driving to the British Army base at Rheindahlen and will this evening run a mile for Sport Relief.

We have opted for this particular destination on the back of a suggestion by Penny - comment eight - who mentioned that her Dad used to race at a track near Monchengladbach when he was in the army.

Continue reading "Heading to Rheindahlen"

Getting over it

MartinHOHENSYBURG, OUTSIDE DORTMUND - Yesterday was a total wash out.

It's more than 36 hours now since England went out of this World Cup and Fletch and I are still struggling to process that information and summon up the required strength to move on.

Check out the video from Saturday's fan fest and also a kid doing keepy-ups for my entertainment.

Continue reading "Getting over it"

Where should we run a mile?

paul_fletcher.gif HOHENSYBURG - Unfortunately at some point before Ricco and I leave Germany and head for home we have to run a mile for Sport Relief.

I say unfortunately because after close to a month of consuming meat in the same quantities as your average German - and let us be honest sneaking the odd beer along the way - I no longer feel able to guarantee that I could run the distance without doubling over, throwing up etc etc.

Continue reading "Where should we run a mile?"

Flat out and heading home

MartinGELSENKIRCHEN - The scene at the hastily-installed second fan fest in Gelsenkirchen told the tale of the day.

Where not one hour previously around 30,000 England fans had urged Sven-Goran Eriksson's team on, there was now just a mass of discarded plastic glasses and the odd fan laid out on the ground - too much sun, too much beer and the pain of defeat having taken their toll.

Check out the video.

Continue reading "Flat out and heading home"

What is it about penalties?

paul_fletcher.gif GELSENKIRCHEN - Terrible, just terrible. I am sick to the stomach.

England's defeat to Portugal on penalties induces not only a distressing feeling of deja vu but also a slight nausea.

Two years ago I wrote this article - change a few words and it is as relevant today as it was then.

It could have all been so different, certainly the day got off to an interesting start - read more about my trip to the ground in a limo belonging to a, as-then-unkown to me, famous German actor further down.

Continue reading "What is it about penalties?"

Racing towards Gelsenkirchen

paul_fletcher.gif A SERVICE STATION - I drive until the (not so) early hours to get us within striking distance of Gelsenkirchen- and England's quarter-final tie with Portugal.

Ricco and I went to the match between Italy and Ukraine in Hamburg on Friday night.

Continue reading "Racing towards Gelsenkirchen"

Lehmann gets the party started

MartinMOTORING TOWARDS GELSENKIRCHEN – The moment Jens Lehmann saved Esteban Cambiasso’s penalty to send Germany into the World Cup semi-finals, Fletch and I immediately turned on our heels and walked away.

We had to get ourselves to Hamburg’s stadium for the Italy v Ukraine match, but any thoughts that we were leaving the party were soon quashed by the number of jubilant Germans who joined us on the train.

Continue reading "Lehmann gets the party started"

On the road again

MartinA SERVICE STATION, NORTH OF HAMBURG – Svan’s fixed! Yippee!

Well, it’s only a patch up job on our busted rear end but it looks good enough to keep us going for the rest of the tournament – touch wood – and more importantly to get us to Gelsenkirchen for tomorrow’s England match.

Continue reading "On the road again"

Ray Winstone's England verdict

paul_fletcher.gif HAMBURG - Ray Winstone, actor, West Ham fan and all-round top bloke, has been in Germany since the World Cup started.

In fact, earlier in the tournament one of our bloggers bumped into him in Frankfurt.

The actor has been keeping a close eye on England and was privileged enough to watch them train on Thursday. We caught up with Ray to find out what he made of England’s prospects.

Continue reading "Ray Winstone's England verdict"

Germany or Argentina?

paul_fletcher.gif A PARK IN HAMBURG - Svan is in the garage hopefully being fixed and I am sat on a patch of grass in some park near the stadium wondering who I want to win in the match between Germany and Argentina.

We have tickets for Italy's match with Ukraine in Hamburg later this evening, but lets be honest that is not really the game that has the host nation gripped.

Continue reading "Germany or Argentina?"

Joy and despair in Hamburg

MartinHAMBURG – The incident between Svan and a gate post, leaving us spending the night on a Fiat garage forecourt, brought me crashing down to earth after what I thought was my biggest achievement of the trip.

I managed to purchase a World Cup ticket via Fifa’s website.

Continue reading "Joy and despair in Hamburg"

When Svan hit a gate

paul_fletcher.gifHAMBURG - Disaster struck this afternoon.

We were on our way to visit Ricco's grandparents, almost there, when an approaching car forced Ricco to move over to one side of the narrow lane.

Continue reading "When Svan hit a gate"

Scolari’s secret weapon

paul_fletcher.gif BREMEN - Luis Felipe Scolari seems to have the irksome knack of emerging victorious when it comes to matches against Sven-Goran Eriksson’s England.

As Brazil manager at the World Cup in 2002 and as boss of Portugal at Euro 2004 he defeated England at the quarter-final stage - and one guy I spoke to told me it was because he has some friends in pretty high places...

Continue reading "Scolari’s secret weapon"

Bremen happy to dodge World Cup

MartinBREMEN - You might expect that a club who applied to host World Cup matches, but was rejected, would feel particularly left out now.

And with Werder Bremen currently the second best club side in the country after a third successive Champions League qualification, you would think they are feeling hard done by.

Continue reading "Bremen happy to dodge World Cup"

What, no football?

paul_fletcher.gif HANNOVER - The World Cup might only happen once every four years but when it does it sure means business.

Three games a day for 11 consecutive days, followed by four games a day for four days and two games a day for the next four. And then what?

Continue reading "What, no football?"

Kung Fu fighting

paul_fletcher.gif HANNOVER - I saw something this evening that made my jaw drop.

Two photographers queuing for some kind of ticket, or pass, or whatever for Spain's game with France suddenly started fighting. It was truly remarkable.

Continue reading "Kung Fu fighting"

The Germans' taste in music

MartinHANNOVER - We haven’t really discovered a theme tune for this World Cup while driving Svan up and down the autobahn, possibly because while one of us drives the other is often in the back working.

My introduction of Nena’s 99 Red Balloons – the original German version – on the stereo yesterday was just met with bemusement from Fletch, so I think it’s a non-starter.

Continue reading "The Germans' taste in music"

Spain ready to deliver?

paul_fletcher.gif HANNOVER - Spain have a well-earned reputation for disappointing at major tournaments - but here at an overcast Hannover both players and supporters are confident of beating the French this evening.

Last night I went to watch Spain's final training session before their second-round match and Luis Aragones' squad looked focused and relaxed.

Continue reading "Spain ready to deliver?"

Technical tantrums

MartinERNST-AUGUSTUS-PLATZ, HANNOVER – Finally! I can’t tell you how good it feels to be blogging again after 24 hours of technical gremlins and tantrums from yours truly.

My laptop internet connection and digital camera had stopped working leaving me as the chocolate teapot of this blog operation.

I don’t take very well to things that previously worked, just breaking for no apparent reason and so I’ve been stomping about our camper van, two campsites and a fair few motorway service areas, with Fletch eyeing me warily in case I was about to explode.

Continue reading "Technical tantrums"

The strangest campsite in Germany?

paul_fletcher.gif HEADING TO HANNOVER - Ricco and I have stayed at quite a few campsites over the last few weeks.

Some have had great facilities, others modest. Some have been in great locations, others miles from anywhere - but none have been quite like Herr Schmidt's.

Continue reading "The strangest campsite in Germany?"

Colditz, Dresden and sleepy England

paul_fletcher.gif SUBURB OF DRESDEN - Last week we mentioned that we would be going to Leipzig and asked you to suggest where we should visit in the near vicinity.

Many thanks for all the ideas. Lots of people said Dresden, while I quite liked the idea of Colditz - and so we squeezed them in around England's match with Ecuador, learning lots along the way and encountering some very strange people.

Continue reading "Colditz, Dresden and sleepy England"

Germany believes

MartinLEIPZIG – In five short days the atmosphere at this World Cup has changed.

With confident victories over Ecuador and Sweden, the Germans have gone from accommodating hosts to real contenders in this tournament, at least that is what millions of supporters of Juergen Klinsmann’s team believe.

Continue reading "Germany believes"

Fantastic Mexico waves farewell

paul_fletcher.gif LEIPZIG - Mexico departed the World Cup after their defeat to Argentina on Saturday evening.

But they gave one of the favourites a real run for their money and their fans stopped the traffic - literally.

Continue reading "Fantastic Mexico waves farewell"

Overflowing Fan Fests

MartinLEIPZIG - As Fletch and I approached Leipzig city centre via tram this afternoon we thought it unusually quiet, assuming tonight's game here between two American teams was not accompanied by many travelling fans.

That illusion was soon shattered as the Hauptbahnhof honed into view - thousands of fans were spilling out of the main station and into the city's pedestrian district.

There were many wearing the light blue and white of Argentina, many more wearing the green and sombreros of Mexico, but today Leipzig was painted black, red and gold.

Continue reading "Overflowing Fan Fests"

The half-way point

paul_fletcher.gif BAMBERG - At some point over the next 24 hours our trip will reach its half-way stage.

With two weeks gone and two weeks left to go, the World Cup has also reached the same juncture (though admittedly more than 50% of the fixtures have been played).

With this in mind - and the group stage now over - how do you think the tournament is shaping up?

Continue reading "The half-way point"

Glorious, glorious Ghana

paul_fletcher.gif NUREMBERG - I'll come clean straight away.

I went on holiday to Ghana last year and I loved the place to bits - even more so the people.

Continue reading "Glorious, glorious Ghana"

Gutted in Nuremberg

MartinALMOST INSIDE THE FRANKENSTADION, NUREMBERG - I'm sat here on some concrete steps, staring at the Frankenstadion not 30 metres away, listening to the cheers and jeers of the Ghana v USA crowd.

Why no closer? Because I bought a cancelled ticket off a tout and am now stuck in the eerie no-man's land between the outer security checkpoint and the entance to the stands.

Continue reading "Gutted in Nuremberg"

The old and the new in Nuremberg

paul_fletcher.gif NUREMBERG - Cultural excursions don't appear to have been a particularly high priority for fans at the World Cup - there is just too much football to watch.

But here in Nuremberg the situation is different because the area around the Franken-Stadion carries the indelible mark of history.

Quite simply, it is difficult to reach the ground without seeing some reminder of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party, which used the stadium as a marching ground in the 1930s.

Continue reading "The old and the new in Nuremberg"

Bruce Arena's evening stroll

paul_fletcher.gif NUREMBERG - You, the readers, decided that we should watch Holland versus Argentina on a big screen rather than try to buy tickets for a dead-rubber match between Ivory Coast and Serbia & Montenegro at the Allianz Arena in Munich.

One was a fairly low-key draw between two teams keeping their powder dry for forthcoming encounters, the other sounded like an electrifying match betweens two sides desperate to leave the tournament with some points.

Continue reading "Bruce Arena's evening stroll"

My legs hurt

MartinAUTOBAHN A6, RICHTING NUREMBERG – Ulm Munster has the tallest church tower in the world, it stands 161.53m high and has 768 steps, and this morning we sweated all the way to the top.

Not such heartfelt thanks are due to blog reader James who directed us towards it when we asked for things we should do on our way to Nuremberg.

Continue reading "My legs hurt"

England in Ulm

paul_fletcher.gif ULM - I met a Swedish fan at the start of the tournament who had a T-shirt that read "Sweden 2-2 England - agreed?".

Well, it may have been agreed or it may not have been agreed but at the end it was indeed 2-2.

Continue reading "England in Ulm"

Keep on trucking

Martin A CAR/CAMPER VAN PARK, ULM - Being on the road quite a lot has meant we've missed out on watching a lot of the footie, but with the games getting more interesting at the end of the group stage we're determined to halt that trend.

So, at four this afternoon we pulled off the motorway and wandered into the services in the hope of seeing Germany take on Ecuador.

Continue reading "Keep on trucking"

Stern faces at Baden-Baden

paul_fletcher.gif BUHLERHOHE SCHLOSSHOTEL, BADEN-BADEN - Lots has already been said, filmed and written about the official England team hotel in the mountains outside Baden Baden.

But with the England team away in Cologne, Ricco and I thought we would pop along to see if we could get any interesting chat off the staff there.

Continue reading "Stern faces at Baden-Baden"

Life in England Camp

paul_fletcher.gif ENGLAND CAMP, ACHERN - Compared to the rest of our journey through Germany our life in England Camp got off to the most unusual start.

After days of melting in the hot sun our arrival was greeted by a thunderstorm of biblical proportions. The fencing blew over, the bar area flooded, the big screen went off and the visitors chanted "It's just like being at home".

Continue reading "Life in England Camp"

A football quandary

MartinON THE ROAD AGAIN IN BAVARIA - We've left Munich now and are heading back to Stuttgart to do some filming with Celina Hinchcliffe and her touring BBC crew - keep your eyes peeled for us on the MOTD highlights some time this week and check out the video- and after a night in the England fans' camp near Baden-Baden we're going to take the scenic route towards Nuremberg.

But we are undecided on what to do with ourselves on Wednesday evening.

Continue reading "A football quandary"

Cheer up Michael Owen

paul_fletcher.gif MUNICH - Based on the performances of the England team in their opening two games there are many issues that need resolving.

Not least of these is the form of Michael Owen - so with this in mind Ricco and I went to visit the scene of one of his greatest performances.

Continue reading "Cheer up Michael Owen"

The desperate search for tickets

paul_fletcher.gif MUNICH - There was real tension outside the ground as Brazil prepared to face Australia - and it wasn't about the match.

The sheer number of people hanging around outside looking for tickets really took me by surprise.

Continue reading "The desperate search for tickets"

Samba beat hits Munich

Martin MUNiCH - Arriving in Munich we've walked straight into another massive party, the Brazilians and Aussies are in town for their match on Sunday.

As every other first time visitor to the city, Fletch and I made a bee-line for the Hofbrauhaus to try and get something to eat and drink.

Continue reading "Samba beat hits Munich"

Snippets from the Dutch camp

paul_fletcher.gif MUNICH - As we travelled south this morning I pulled up at traffic lights on the outskirts of Stuttgart.

Another camper van stopped alongside me. The driver, resplendent in orange, turned towards me so I said "hello" - what I did not expect was his reply.

Continue reading "Snippets from the Dutch camp"

Oranje boom

MartinON THE MOTORWAY HEADING TOWARDS MUNICH - The Dutch are here in Germany in force, that much I can confirm.

The thousands upon thousands without tickets for the Ivory Coast match in Stuttgart crammed into the city centre's Schlossplatz and partied hard once qualification for the second round was assured.

Continue reading "Oranje boom"

My new favourite hobby

MartinA SAUSAGE SHOP, STUTTGART HAUPTBAHNHOF - Not that I expect the remotest bit of sympathy from you dear blog reader, but it can be very frustrating being outside a stadium when a World Cup match is on with no prospect of getting in.

For the second time in a week Fletch is happily settled in his press seat, while I have to glumly drag myself away from the ground and towards an establishment with a TV.

Continue reading "My new favourite hobby"

Moyles in Germany

paul_fletcher.gif STUTTGART - The Chris Moyles Radio One breakfast show is being broadcast from here in Germany so we went to visit them this morning to see how it is all going.

Perched high in the hills, Svan took his time tackling some of the gradients - especially as a few wrong turns were involved - but we made it eventually.

Continue reading "Moyles in Germany"

England with the Klinsmanns

paul_fletcher.gifA CARPARK, SORRY CAMPSITE, STUTTGART - Ricco and I went to find the Klinsmann family bakery in the Stuttgart suburb of Botnang this afternoon.

Alas, Thursday just happened to be the Corpus Christi holiday in this part of Germany and the place was closed - but that was definitely not the end of the story.

Continue reading "England with the Klinsmanns"

Causing trouble

paul_fletcher.gifA MOTORWAY, TOWARDS STUTTGART - Fresh from doing three-point turns on the finishing straight at Hockenheim on Wednesday, we are now heading further south.

Last night we watched Germany's narrow win over Poland in the beautiful town of Heidelberg, but the evening was not without its more unsavoury aspects.

Continue reading "Causing trouble"

Svan goes racing - the movie!

MartinHEIDELBERG - It's another fine morning in Germany and I think my adrenalin has finally stopped pumping after the Hockenheim experience, but it'll get going again ahead of the England game, I'm sure.

Check out our video of Svan tackling the turns of a Grand Prix circuit - I wonder what our advanced driving instructor Ronny would think of it...

Svan goes racing

MartinHEIDELBERG - We've had two heroes on our blog journey today, Herr Schacher, whose magic fingers helped get Svan up and running this morning, and Sib who suggested we head to the Hockenheim Grand Prix circuit to test out the repair.

Quickly confirming that this was en route, we hit the road and headed south from Frankfurt.

Continue reading "Svan goes racing"

Svan on the move

paul_fletcher.gif A GARAGE FORECOURT, DREIEICH-OFFENTHAL - Magic mechanic Schacher has installed the new immobiliser part in Svan and we are on the move again.

Watch the video.

We are heading south, stopping for the night near Hockenheim, where Ricco will do his best Jeremy Clarkson impression, driving Svan around the Formula One racetrack.

Continue reading "Svan on the move"

Svan's appointment with destiny

paul_fletcher.gifDREIEICH-OFFENTHAL - OK, so the part has arrived.

There was real tension in Svan this morning when I called the garage to find out whether it had turned up.

Continue reading "Svan's appointment with destiny"

Anxious wait for Svan

paul_fletcher.gifDREIEICH-OFFENTHAL - On Wednesday morning we find out when Svan will be fixed.

Basically, we are praying that a part has arrived from Italy to the garage near our campsite.

Continue reading "Anxious wait for Svan"

Togo no go

MartinFRANKFURT - I'm sure you'll all feel very sorry for me when I tell you I didn't get into the South Korea v Togo match this afternoon.

I'd given up the chance of making it in when I was delayed collecting our new 3G cards for the laptops but a call from Fletch in the press box informing me of quite a few empty seats sent me scurrying back into the public transport system and heading to the Waldstadion.

Continue reading "Togo no go"

Maradona stories

paul_fletcher.gifFRANKFURT - People are wandering around and around the Waldstadion as we approach kick-off in the match between Togo and South Korea.

I just bumped into a colleague from BBC World Service who told me a story about Maradona.

Continue reading " Maradona stories"

Life in a German town

MartinDREIEICH-OFFENTHAL - Our problems with Svan have had a positive knock-on effect in that we've been afforded an evening when we don't have to be rushing around and can actually sit down and watch some football.

With Fletch rooting for Ghana and myself just hoping football was the winner, we settled down in a traditional German biergarten and enjoyed what this particularly leafy Frankfurt suburb had to offer and watched this evening's game.

Continue reading "Life in a German town"

Svan breaks down - again!

paul_fletcher.gifDREIEICH-OFFENTHAL - Another hot day, another Svan failure.

This morning our van was fixed. This afternoon it once again failed to start.

Continue reading "Svan breaks down - again!"

What to do on Wednesday?

paul_fletcher.gifTROISDORF, FIAT GARAGE - Our mobile home - Svan - is now fixed!

What we need to do now is work out what to do on Wednesday - any suggestions?

Continue reading "What to do on Wednesday?"

Our van won't start!

paul_fletcher.gifA CAR PARK, TROISDORF - The problem with Svan, our mobile home, is that it won't start.

We went to watch the Ivory Coast play a friendly match at their training ground in Troisdorf against the local team that normally calls the Aggerstadion home.

The Elephants team comprised the players that did not figure against Argentina on Saturday and dished out a 9-0 hammering in a 30-minutes each-way match.

Ricco and I then made our way back to Svan and prepared to head off to Frankfurt. Several hours later, with the time just gone nine in the evening here in Germany, we remain in a less than picturesque car park.

Continue reading "Our van won't start!"

Downcast in Dortmund

MartinDORTMUND - Yesterday they were going to be world champions, today the Swedish fans are searching for answers as to why their team failed to beat Trinidad and Tobago.

The guys next door to us on the campsite, who were extremely bullish about their chances on Friday evening, just greeted me with a croaky "Oh, go away!" as I approached their caravan this morning.

tshirts_swedes203.jpg"We've got a dumbass coach," said my new friend, Frederick. "Where was Kallstrom when Svensson was rubbish? He doesn't know when to use substitutes."

I managed to cheer them up with a set of Fletch and Ricco T-shirts, fast becoming the must-have fashion accessory of the World Cup, and they got a little bit more confident.

Continue reading "Downcast in Dortmund"

T&T ticket triumph!

MartinDORTMUND - While Fletch is a member of the accredited media out here in Germany, I'm having to watch the games in whichever way I can.

So the e-mail I received on Thursday informing me my ticket application for the Sweden v Trinidad game had been successful was a real bonus.

swedenfansinqueue.jpgDespite some problems trying to print out the confirmation, I joined a relatively short queue at the ticket centre here in Dortmund and there I was in the Westfalenstadion today - although I was offered 2000 euros for it last night, 20 times the face value.

Forget the red carpet that runs from the city centre to the stadium, the paths around the stadium became a yellow river of confused supporters trying to make their way to a very poorly sign-posted entrance - it seemed for a while that the famous German efficiency was in danger of coming off the rails.

Continue reading "T&T ticket triumph!"

Very nervous Swedes

paul_fletcher.gifDORTMUND - Sweden's game with Trinidad & Tobago is a matter of hours away and I've heard a rumour that all is not well with the men from northern Europe.

I was talking to a journalist from Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet and he was of the opinion that the players are very, very nervous.....

Their recent form has been poor and a sense of anxiety has run through the camp. Rather than focusing on how many they will score against T&T they are more concerned with avoiding a slip-up.
Furthermore, the relationship between the Swedish players and media is very fractious.

Continue reading "Very nervous Swedes"

Trini-party shenanigans

MartinDORTMUND - After our technological problems with BBC World this morning, we rightly began to focus on the football.

Check out the video
We settled on the main square in Dortmund to watch the opening game but after two hours baking under the harsh evening Nordrhein-Westfallen sun with only half a view of the big screen - both Costa Rica goals were offside, by the way, according to a better-placed German informant - we decided to move on.

The stadium in Dortmund is twinned with an exhibition cente, the Westfallenhalle, and tonight they were hosting a tribute to their visitors from Trinidad & Tobago.

Although mainly lost on us, acts like Shurwayne Winchester are the business in the Caribbean and we were treated to a feast of music and dance - the Soca that Trinidad's Soca Warriors are indebted to.

Continue reading "Trini-party shenanigans"

Deadlines in Dortmund

paul_fletcher.gifDORTMUND - Ricco drove us through the night (more or less) to get us to Dortmund in time to do a piece for BBC World.

Alas, the technological aspect of our trip is not running as smoothly as Svan (our camper van) when Ricco is behind the wheel.

The search for a hotspot was pretty intense this morning but deadlines proved unrealistic and our webcam slot on the programme went begging.

The episode wasn't a total waste of time as we discovered that the headphones we are supposed to use are pretty dodgy.

Continue reading "Deadlines in Dortmund"

The hunt for Shevchenko

paul_fletcher.gifA VERY BUMPY MOTORWAY, NEAR KOBLENZ - He didn't say much, nothing to be precise.
But in Andriy Shevchenko's defence when the pen was thrust upon him, the Ukrainian striker certainly knew what to do.

Check out the video

Perhaps putting pen to paper on a bumper deal at Chelsea a couple of weeks ago had primed the striker for a spot of autograph signing.

Ricco and I went to watch Ukraine's final pre-World Cup friendly against Luxembourg with the aim of persuading the Shev to sign a couple of 'Fletch and Ricco' Sport Relief T-shirts.

Continue reading "The hunt for Shevchenko"

Chasing Shevchenko

paul_fletcher.gifSTADE JOSY BARTHEL, LUXEMBOURG - Ricco and I are currently in Luxembourg's modest national stadium waiting for their friendly match against Ukraine, which is a matter of minutes away.

Luxembourg have provided World Cup warm-up opposition for Germany, Portugal and now Ukraine.

But in all honesty we are not really here to watch Luxembourg complete their very own World Cup group (sort of) or monitor the form of the Ukrainians but to try to persuade Andriy Shevchenko to sign some of our T-shirts.

I cannot help but think we might have missed our chance.

Continue reading "Chasing Shevchenko"

Wayne who?

martin_richardson.gifAIRE DE SPY, E42, BELGIUM – While England is going Rooney crazy after it’s confirmed “the big man” will play some part in the tournament, it’s a different story on the continent.

Check out the video of our first day on the blog.

A stop for lunch at the motorway services just past Charleroi gave me my first opportunity to get my hands on the Bild Zeitung, Germany’s biggest tabloid paper.

So is the Rooney news splashed all across the headlines?

The answer, a firm no.

Continue reading "Wayne who?"

Svan in Belgium

paul_fletcher.gifMONS, BELGIUM - After a lot of thought we have decided to go with a suggestion from Tom and name our camper van Svan.

It works on so many levels - it made us laugh, it has a great England connection and is just four letters, making it easy for the less co-ordinated of us bloggers to type.

There was a great response to our appeal for a name, with some pretty wacky and others hinting at a thought process well beyond our capabilities. Much appreciated.

By the way, where are you Gregory Sibret?

Continue reading "Svan in Belgium"

Plain sailing

paul_fletcher.gifTHE ENGLISH CHANNEL - The ferry is on the move, whisking our camper van towards France.

Everything seems to be going very smoothly, if you'll pardon the pun, - though Ricco only realised he had left the front of the stereo on a sideboard in his house once he had posted his keys through the door.

riccoferry203.gifExpletives spewed forth, followed by a dash through Surrey to retrieve a set of keys from Ricco's wife.

If nothing else, it gave Ricco the opportunity to test his driving skills through winding country lanes.

We have been very impressed with the suggestions to the key issue of what we should call our mobile home.

Continue reading "Plain sailing"

The name game

paul_fletcher.gifLONDON - We picked our mobile home up yesterday and spent a considerable amount of time learning about the delights of the Fiat Riviera 181.

A true delight - check it out for yourselves in our first video entry.

It holds 125 litres of water, has a fridge with freezer - which is real luxury since I don't even have one of those at home - and a cassette.

Now before you become overcome with nostalgia let me point something out.

Continue reading "The name game"

Nasty habits (part II)

LONDON - Before I get into the meat of this entry let me just point you towards our trailer which ran on Football Focus today (watch the video) - great publicity for the blog but I need to have a word about my image rights as my cartoon makes me look like an 80-year-old who hasn't slept for a year - or Tord Grip for that matter.

So Fletch thinks I might have some nasty habits, eh?

bloggers2_203x152.gifAs someone who's endured some shocking housemates in his time, including a Bavarian who communicated solely through grunts and post-it notes on the bathroom mirror, I think I've learnt to be as mild mannered as possible.

But five weeks is a long time and the mask is bound to slip at some point, so let's address Fletch's concerns one by one:

Continue reading "Nasty habits (part II)"

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.


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"

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.

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?"

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"

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?

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"

About 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.

About 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.

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