Friday November 4
To NUJ chapel meeting regarding the forthcoming merger of sports desks on the Independent, Independent on Sunday and Evening Standard. There have been times in the past 38 years when union subs have felt a luxury but the Indy chapel remains one of the best supported in what we used to call Fleet Street. Militant mood on hearing that there could be up to 20 redundancies overall, the feeling being that resources are already stretched quite tightly enough without losing any more staff. Strong motion sent back to management. Return home to write piece on Fulham’s old boys facing Spurs on Sunday.
Saturday November 5
Unusually the FA have decided that Fabio Capello should meet the Sunday papers on a Saturday, something they had previously insisted was logistically impossible. It will at least prevent any further leaks to Saturday’s Sun. Suits me anyway, being in central London and en route to the late kick-off at QPR. Embarrassing moment at Charing Cross station when the office asks for the Fulham piece I “filed” yesterday evening. Oh no you didn’t, Stephen. Worse, it’s on the laptop I left at home, not the one I have with me – sheer incompetence. American tourists surprised by man doing impression of John Cleese. Saved by phone call to daughter, who calmly selects story and sends it with minimum fuss. What would we old folk do without technically savvy offspring? After that little drama, 1,200 words of Fabio on John Terry, followed by QPR v Man City is a piece of cupcake. Fine game, lively quotes and eventually make a 60th birthday party in the wilds of Hampton Wick.
Sunday November 6
“Day off” with 700 words to write for Indy on QPR game begins by catching up with papers and a Match of the Day recording, making clear everything we missed at the game. Grateful to other papers for guidance on player ratings, it being impossible to watch and report the game as well as assessing 26 players. Shame that’s the only bit the players read. Day continues with work and enjoyment coinciding, watching Wolves v Wigan and Fulham v Spurs, the latter bringing roars in our household at Defoe’s late goal, as son had a 100-1 bet on Bale scoring first in a 3-1 win. Banking on him for my old age. Quick look at Barca but wife seems strangely resistant to three games in a day and insists on final episode of Downton.
Monday November 7
Much more like a proper day off, in between calls and emails trying to sort out some interviews/features for a quiet international week. Still plenty of Monday sports sections to wade through, reflecting on the days when many papers would have had a single football page at most, or in the case of The Times, one match report “By Our Association Football Correspondent”.
Tuesday November 8
Fill in weekend stats in book, reflecting as ever that in school years I used to do that just for fun. Now it’s called “work”. Email from managing editor to all staff inviting voluntary redundancies (at half the rate it used to be). No thank you. Manage to make good inroads into this week’s diary column ‘Outside the Box’ and just before close of play receive joyous news that Brendan Rodgers will see me tomorrow. God bless him and the Swansea City press office.
Wednesday November 9
Uncomfortably early start to get from south-east London to west Wales by lunchtime, made worthwhile by the excellent Mr Rodgers and his press officer, who even ferries me back to Neath station. “There’s no advantage in getting older,” Woody Allen said recently, but here’s one: rail tickets with Club 55 on various western and Midlands trains mean a return from Paddington to Swansea at peak time costs less than £28. An extraordinary bargain, for which the Indy should be duly grateful. Power socket at every seat in “standard” class, Virgin please note, so that 1,400 words can be transcribed on the way back. And the bacon baguette was magnificent. Good day all round.
Thursday November 10
Would love to be heading for Tallinn with the Republic of Ireland for their play-off as they deserve to be at another tournament. Instead, polish off diary column and check carefully that the office have actually received it, then set to work on B. Rodgers for Sunday piece. Check stats laboriously compiled by a workie for second Sunday feature to be written tomorrow. In a quiet international week, no Friday presser to attend, but an evening with fingers and toes crossed awaits, watching the boys in green on TV.