ANDY DILLON of The Sun on being Vince Champagne…his fear of Harry’s open car window…and a naked sauna with an unknown female…
Have you ever worked in a profession other than football?
I worked on a building site labouring as a teenager but got sacked after having a fight with the foreman. Construction’s loss is football’s gain I like to think. I have also had various jobs including filing the insides of the telescopic legs of fold up fishing chairs to make them fit and buttering bread at the Student Union while at University. I also made cash as a DJ back in the day when I lived in Bristol in the early 90s – playing under the name of ‘Vince Champagne’ with my pal ‘Dave The Rave’. All would probably pay more than journalism now I suspect.
Most memorable match?
Possibly Birmingham v West Ham, Carling Cup semi-final second leg two years ago. A fiesty old night at St Andrews when a mate popped downstairs for a number two just minutes into the game. He emerged from the traps just as a group of West Ham ruffians were brought into the away end by West Midlands’ finest. My innocent pal was corralle along with them and missed the entire first half of the match being held under the stands by the police. Great night but a rubbish game tho. West Ham were 12 minutes from Wembley and threw it all away – what a surprise.
The one moment in football you would put on a DVD?
Paolo Di Canio sticking it past Fabian Barthez in West Ham’s incredible FA Cup win at Manchester United some years back. It had everything about my club in a nutshell. And Di Canio’s facial expression to the TV cameras is immortal.
Borussia Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion. 80,000 capacity in a tight, square, English style arena. Watched Germany v Poland there in the World Cup in 2006. Wow! Every English club should play in a ground like this.
And the worst?
No such thing as a bad football ground. I love them all – they are mesmerising.
Moving to Surrey a year ago from Wimbledon. Even though I lived next to Plough Lane, which is now a housing estate, and an industrial estate I now miss the things I once hated about that place. I grew up in the suburbs and am now back to square one. I want my SW postcode back.
Have you ever been mistaken for anyone else?
Where do we start? My colleague and kind of friend Charlie Wyett has calculated that my own newspaper has mis-spelt my byline 17 times. Dillion, Dillom, the list goes on. I’ve been referred to as Alan by one of The Sun’s own columnists, one manager thought I was called Anthony and recently a Barclays Premier League chairman thought I worked for the marketing department of Men & Motors magazine. Charismatic I ain’t.
Your personal new-tech disaster?
I Phone. I can play games, take pictures, listen to music and get emails from News International at two in the morning, but I can’t make a phone call on it [it’s an iPhone Alan, I mean Andy – Ed]
Most media friendly manager?
Harry Redknapp – and as his ghost writer at The Sun how I love seeing him leaning out of that car window telling Sky Sports all the stuff I had hoped to save for his weekly column. Top man though. Great love for football and always armed with a few anecdotes or jokes to keep the game in its rightful perspective as entertainment. Unless he’s just lost, of course.
Best ever player?
Frank Lampard. Amazing contribution to football and when have you ever seen him lose his rag? Phil Parkes is up there too, tho.
Best ever teams (club and international)?
Club: Barcelona in any of the recent seasons. (boring I know)
International: Brazil in the early 1980s. Maybe it’s my fuzzy memory but those guys didn’t even seem to need to run. Cool tops, too.
Best pre-match grub?
Chelsea. The choice is amazing. At least that’s what I’m told because I never go there.
Best meal had on your travels?
Not a big foodie. Will try anything but it’s a fuel stop for me. Nothing more.
And the worst?
As above. Don’t really bother with the taste. Down it goes.
Best hotel stayed in?
The Bio Hotel in Stanglwirt in Austria where the Klitschko brothers train. It’s The Sound of Music in real life. Everything is made of wood – including the telephones. The swimming pool has an outdoor lagoon where you can jump out and roll in the snow. I had a naked sauna with a complete stranger (female) and the girls at check in are breathtaking: As one colleague whispered to me on arrival: “Wow, if Carlsberg made reception desks…”
And the worst?
Can’t remember the name but it was in Armenia. I was covering Wales and this place had a tarpaulin for a roof. Everything was cold, damp and miserable. Just like Wales in fact.
Favourite football writer?
Des Kelly. His columns bounce along and his humour appeals to me greatly. He can treat serious subjects with a light touch to remind us that football is not a matter of life and death all the time.
Favourite radio/TV commentator?
I guess it would be Brian Moore – only in that his voice takes me back to Sunday lunchtimes as a kid when I first started taking notice of football and the Big Match would also show highlights from lower league matches.
If you could introduce one change to improve PR between football clubs and football writers what would it be?
Stop press officers sitting in on one-to-one interviews with players.
I’ve not seen a negative sit down yet. Chill.
One sporting event outside football you would love to experience?
A night with BBC news reader Susanna Reid? Does that count? [Not really but we’ll make an exception for you Anthony, I mean Andy – Ed]
Last book read?
Am currently reading Bond classic: ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’. Nothing like the film at all. I love all William Boyd’s novels.
Favourite current TV programme?
Have I Got News For You. Magical. I love satire.
Your most prized football memorabilia?
A picture of my then four-year-old son George standing on Wembley Way last summer in a West Ham jester’s hat before the play off final against Blackpool. All he wanted to do was meet Charlie Wyett. At least the match wasn’t a let down.
Advice to anyone coming into the football media world?
Become a DJ instead.