FWA Q&A

FWA Q&A: GRAHAM NICKLESS

GRAHAM NICKLESS on why he likes Friday…not being hot stuff in Dijon…and getting shirty about numbers

Have you ever worked in a profession other than football?
My first full-time job after school was working in London as an insurance clerk.

Most memorable match?
Watching England beat West Germany 4-2 at Wembley to win the World Cup on my family’s black-and-white TV alongside my late dad, Fred, in 1966.

The one moment in football you would put on a DVD?
Reading’s Robin Friday plucked a pass out of the air with his back towards goal before he turned and smashed it into Tranmere’s net from 35 yards at Elm Park in 1976 – and the striker celebrated by kissing a policeman. Hollywood are making a film of Friday.

Best stadium?
White Hart Lane.

…and the worst?
Selhurst Park.

Your personal new-tech disaster?
Trying to report a match at Brighton’s Amex Stadium with no wifi connection for laptop and no signal for mobile phone in the press box.

Biggest mistake?
Reporting in the Daily Star that Britain’s F1 star Derek Warwick had finished 12th in the French Grand Prix at Dijon having missed the driver being stretchered away from his Renault car after a crash during the race.

Have you ever been mistaken for anyone else?
One-time Italian international Fabrizio Ravenelli, Hollywood actor George Clooney, former US President Bill Clinton and Father Christmas!

Most media friendly manager?
Yeovil’s Gary Johnson.

Best ever player?
Pele.

Best ever teams (club and international)?
Bill Nicholson’s “Glory, Gory” Spurs and Brazil’s 1970 World Cup winners.

Best pre-match grub?
Wife’s bacon sandwiches before leaving for work. (Why don’t you eat your own? – Ed?)

Best meal had on your travels.
An Italian in Dusseldorf with my old “Beastie Boy” mates Nigel Clarke and the late Brian Woolnough after England were eliminated from the 1988 European Championship.

…and the worst?
Eating stale sandwiches in the car on the way back from covering Reading games for the local Evening Post.

Best hotel stayed in?
Naples Beach Golf and Country Club, Florida.

…and the worst?
“Nico Towers” in Bournemouth run by “Sybil” Nickless.

Do you have a hobby?
Listening to techno and chill-out music and playing with my wonderful grandson Ethan.

Favourite football writer?
The late Peter Batt who was a real Fleet Street legend.

Favourite radio/TV commentator
The late Bill McLaren who was The Voice of Rugby for the BBC for 50 years.

If you could introduce one change to improve PR between football clubs and football writers what would it be?
Make all clubs have clearly visible numbers on the back of their shirts.

One sporting event outside football you would love to experience?
The US Masters.

Favourite non-football sportsman/sports woman?
Nigel Mansell.

Last book read?
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks.

Favourite current TV programme?
Homeland.

TV show you always switch off?
Soaps.

If you could bring one TV series back which would it be?
Fawlty Towers.

Favourite comedian?
John Cleese.

Favourite singer/group?
Marvin Gaye/Underworld.

What really, really annoys you?
TV/radio and print media using the word “disappointed” in their questions.

Your most prized football memorabilia?
Booked signed by my hero Jimmy Greaves.

Advice to anyone coming into the football media world?
Be prepared to work unsociable hours, never reveal your sources, keep all your old contact numbers and don’t take yourself too seriously.

Graham worked as a staff writer for the Daily Star and Sunday Mirror for the best part of a decade. His weekly Football League gossip column “Nico’s News” appears in The Sun. This year Graham launched a new on-line football game called Goalden Goals alongside former Southampton and England striker and Sky Sports pundit Matthew Le Tissier.

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