FWA Q&A: Andy Dunn

We talk to the Sunday Mirror’s Sports Columnist Andy Dunn about Paolo Di Canio’s push, Eric Cantona’s bank manager and, erm, Made in Chelsea…

Your first ever newspaper?
Crewe and Nantwich Guardian

Have you ever worked in a profession other than journalism?
Once worked as a volunteer in a Citizen’s Advice Bureau. Some citizens got some very bad advice. Was hopeless. But apart from that, no.

What was your finest achievement playing football?
Scoring in my first game as University of York captain against Sheffield Uni. Didn’t score many from right-back. Hit the bar with my largely redundant left peg as well. And we won 4-2. Fellow old boys now in the business include Daily Mirror’s David Maddock and The Guardian’s David Conn.

Most memorable match covered?
Covered all major finals of the last 12 years but, even though it was a qualifier, you would have to go some to match Germany 1, England 5. Tight deadlines heighten the thrill. And I remember going to a Munich tobacconist prior to the game with The Sun’s Chief Sports Writer Steven Howard. He bought the biggest cigar I’ve ever seen and sparked it up when the fifth went in.

The one moment in football you would put on a DVD?
Paolo Di Canio pushing over referee Paul Alcock. It happened right beneath my press box seat. Funniest thing I’ve seen at a match.

Best stadium?
The only game I saw in this stadium – England’s desperately scrappy win against Algeria – was a shocker but the backdrop made it memorable. Green Point Stadium, Cape Town.

…and the worst?
In the same tournament, did not like Soccer City. Pretty soulless.

Your best ever scoop?
Could probably claim a few that would be disputed by my fellow journos. Was told by Eric Cantona’s bank manager that he – Eric, not the bank manager – was quitting football. Didn’t believe him…and the King retired the next day.

Your personal new-tech disaster?
When David Beckham scored that late free-kick against Greece, I was filing on the whistle. Computer crashed and I rang tech dept for help. ‘Take the battery out and sit on it for ten minutes, I was told.’

Biggest mistake?
Not exactly a mistake but I almost caused the closure of a prominent local newspaper when I was acting editor by running a front page that libeled the entire borough council.

Have you ever been mistaken for anyone else?
Yes, Fabio Capello.

Most media friendly manager?
Has to be Harry Redknapp. Arsene Wenger is good but Harry picks up the phone.

Best ever player?
Lionel Messi. No question. His goals against Arsenal at the Nou Camp were simply stunning. A breathtaking player.

Best ever teams (club and international)?
Again, no question. Barcelona – especially the vintage that humiliated Manchester United at Wembley. Although England should probably have beaten them in the quarter-finals, I enjoyed covering the World Cup-winning Brazil team of 2002.

Best pre-match grub?
Breakfast at the Emirates ahead of an early kick-off.

Best meal had on your travels?
Covering David Beckham playing for Real Madrid in Beijing, went to a restaurant that served only duck … every single part of the duck. Eyeballs, the lot. It was sensational. And didn’t end up at the quacks.

…and the worst?
Monkey’s brains, South Korea. Duck brains, yes – monkey brains, no.

Best hotel stayed in?
Brenners Park, Baden-Baden. Not only for its grandeur but because we we sharing it with the WAG’s. Now, that was fun.

…and the worst?
Hard to single one out. Tend to forget about them pretty quickly. But I seem to recall the one in Tirana was pretty dire.

Favourite football writer?
Impossible to single one out. There are so many good ones right now.

Favourite radio/TV commentator?
Again, so many good ones. Like Mike Ingham’s style in particular.

If you could introduce one change to improve PR between football clubs and football writers what would it be?
Actually have meetings/seminars with managers/players to discuss the press issues. Not go a through a third party.

One sporting event outside football you would love to experience?
As a chief sports writer, I’ve been fortunate to cover a lot of my dream events, Sydney Olympics, world title fights in Vegas etc. Would love to cover the Melbourne Cup. After that, the Masters.

Last book read?
A Life Too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke by Ronald Reng. Good but sad read.

Favourite current TV programme?
I have a strange fascination with Made in Chelsea. I suspect I am in a tiny minority.

Your most prized football memorabilia?
One of the few journalists not to do memorabilia.

Andy Dunn, formerly the Chief Sports Writer of the News of the World, is the Sunday Mirror’s Sports Columnist and regular contributor to BBC Radio Five Live and Sky Sports.

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