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FWA Q&A: MARTIN LIPTON

 

Have you ever worked in a profession other than football?
Not since graduating from University. But before that, bar-work, market stalls, and far more knowledge of PVCu windows in hard-wood sub-frames than any normal human being should understand.

Most memorable match?
Plenty of them. England v Argentina in St Etienne, Liverpool v AC Milan in Istanbul, Chelsea v Bayern Munich in 2012. Great, great games.

The one moment in football you would put on a DVD?
Michael Owen’s goal in St Etienne. Nobody really saw it coming.

Best stadium?
The Westfalenstadion (officially Signal Iduna Park) in Dortmund. Never seen a bad game there.

…and the worst?
A few contenders. Think the bottle full of urine in the press box just hands it to Qemal Stafa Stadium, Tirana.

Your personal new-tech disaster?
Wrecking Steve Curry’s laptop in the Elland Road press box as he was filing his match report – but plenty of frustrated screams when let down on edition time.

Biggest mistake?
Trying to head a Ryan Giggs free-kick behind for a corner. Next person to touch the ball was our centre-forward, at the kick-off. But I’ve scored against an international football team…..

Have you ever been mistaken for anyone else?
I was mistaken for a football writer once. Other than that (although there are occasional suggestions of ”Mark Knopfler”), no.

Most media friendly manager?
Plenty. Ian Holloway is great value. Brendan Rodgers, too. And enjoying the return of Jose Mourinho. So far he hasn’t started ducking press conferences, which is a marked and substantial improvement from the latter days of his first incarnation.

Best ever player?
Diego Maradona. He won the World Cup single-handed (literally!) in 1986.

Best ever teams (club and international)?
Barcelona under Guardiola. Football as an art-form. The current Spain team – when they try and play, rather than coast through tournaments.

Best pre-match grub?
Stamford Bridge. You would pay a fortune for the food in a top-class restaurant. Wasted on us, but don’t tell anyone…

Best meal had on your travels?
Became a huge fan of the Belthazar Restaurant in Cape Town. Not sure will ever match the restaurant Matt Barlow of the Daily Mail found in Jakarta last summer, though.

And worst?
One I missed, actually. Moldova, Zimbru Kishinev v Spurs, 1999. Buffet including ice-cream in the hotel. Everybody else was laid up for a week with acute food-poisoning. Best miss ever.

Best hotel stayed in?
I didn’t get to Brenner’s Park in Baden Baden. Sheraton in Bangkok last summer was pretty decent. Grand Palladium Imbassai near Salvador was a spectacular setting.

…and the worst?
Moldova again. Choice of running water – freezing cold and clear or warm and brown. Lovely. To be fair, Kishinev had improved out of all recognition from 1999, let alone 1996, when went back with England in World Cup qualifiers in 2012.

Do you have a hobby?
Too much of a football anorak to have time for one. Am something of an amateur psephologist, though.

Favourite football writer?
I grew up reading Brian Glanville and David Lacey. But the best of today more than match their standards. I always read Martin Samuel, Henry Winter, Danny Taylor, Ollie Holt and Ollie Kay. Plus John Cross, Neil Ashton, Matt Law and others for news stories, the lifeblood of the industry.

Favourite radio/TV commentator?
John Murray is becoming as good as any commentator, past or present. His love for the game is immense, too.

If you could introduce one change to improve PR between football clubs and football writers what would it be?
Press officers are supposed to be facilitators, not screens – the idea is to get coverage of your club, not no coverage. A press conference without a proper line is NOT a good thing.

One sporting event outside football you would love to experience?
The Masters. Followed, closely, by an Ashes series in Australia (though not the most recent one…!)

Favourite non-football sportsman/sports woman?
Shane Warne. Because he was simply brilliant. Even when you didn’t want to watch him bewitching a generation of  English batsmen, it was impossible to look away.

Last book read?
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

Favourite current TV programme?
Homeland

TV show you always switch off?
Any “reality” show. Garbage.

If you could bring one TV series back, which would it be?
The West Wing

Favourite comedian?
Lee Mack. Maybe because I married someone from Bolton….

What really, really annoys you?
My own short-temper. But that’s the way I am. And my inability to hole out from five feet. Which normally leads to the short-temper.

Your most prized football memorabilia?
Bizarrely, a credit card signed by Pele. Pathetic, I know. But it meant I sat next to Pele at dinner, once…..

Advice to anyone coming into the football media world?
Work hard, don’t let anybody tell you you can’t do it, work hard, be lucky, work hard, always make the extra call, ask people for advice, be lucky, work hard……

:: Martin Lipton has been Chief Football Writer for the Daily Mirror since 2002, having joined from the Daily Mail where he was ”nominally” Chief Sports Reporter. Also spent four years in various roles at the Press Association including Football Editor and Chief Football Writer, a year in Leicester with UK News and four years covering court, council, football and rugby league for the West Riding News Service in Huddersfield and Halifax. 

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