FWA Q&A: Steve Bates

STEVE BATES of the Sunday People on being a silly Haas…the Baan Rim Pa in Phucket…and the ordinary John Richardson

Have you ever worked in a profession other than football?
I have always been a journalist in adult life, but as a youngster I had a few Saturday jobs. Perhaps the most bizarre was as a 14-year-old  I was the lift operator in a posh Manchester furniture store. Looking back it was like the Grace Brothers in Are You Being Served – but it gave me an early football insight into going up and going down.

Most memorable match?
Few could ever compare with Bayern Munich v Manchester United in the Champions League Final in 1999. At the final whistle it was bedlam, but I can recall Rob Shepherd sat in front of me smoking a large Cuban cigar. I was also at England’s 5-1 win in Munich and the famous Liverpool comeback against AC Milan in Istanbul in 2005, but for sheer instant drama the Nou Camp 1999 will take some beating.

One moment in football you’d put on a DVD?
My son Dominic’s 30-yard top corner screamer for Altrincham Grammar Under-13’s to beat Parrswood School Didsbury in 2005.

Best stadium?
As a football theatre the Bernabeu in Madrid is fantastic.

And the worst?
In 2000 I went to Rio de Janiero for the Fifa Club World Cup and was excited about watching a game in the famous Maracana Stadium, but it was a crumbling wreck and such a disappointment.

Personal new-tech disaster?
Apart from the usual wi-fi problems every journo suffers on deadline, none has been too spectacular. The funniest I recall was in Hong Kong pre season when John Richardson from the Sunday Express was having connectivity problems at a match. A helpful Aussie lady in the press area tried to help asking John which internet provider he was using prompting the now famous reply: “I’m on ordinary!”

Biggest mistake?
Possibly mistaking another FC Basel player for Bernd Haas in the mixed zone following a Champions League game against Manchester United in Switzerland. I’m told I carried on the interview despite him insisting he wasn’t Haas.

Have you ever been mistaken for anyone else?
Jonny Northcroft from the Sunday Times claims someone recently asked him if I was Ray Lewington. Other than that my pals reckon I have a passing resemblance to Leslie Phillips.

Most media friendly manager?
Sam Allardyce understands the demands of the press and in my opinion always has time for journos.

Best ever player?
As a youngster I just caught the end of George Best’s days at Manchester United and he was mesmerizing.

Best ever teams (club and international)?
The recent Barcelona side and Brazil circa 1970.

Best pre-match grub?

Best meal had on travels?
At the end of a pre-season Manchester United tour to Japan a few years back myself and some of the guys went to a Tepenyaki restaurant in the Ginza district of Tokyo. The Kobe beef was sensational.

On non-football trips I’d go for the restaurants at The Cliff, Barbados, and the Baan Rim Pa in Phuket, Thailand.

The worst?
In a hotel in Algiers in December 1990 covering England B v Algeria. You could order anything off the menu but everyone got the same – goat from memory.

Best hotel stayed in?
The Shangri-La’s in Bangkok and Singapore stand out. Trump Tower, SoHo New York, not shabby either.

And the worst?
One in Istanbul for the 2005 Champions League Final. Hotels were at a premium, but this one would have been condemned had in been in the UK. Thankfully we were moved after one night.

Favourite football writer?
Toss up really, Paul Hayward (Daily Telegraph)/Martin Samuel (Daily Mail).

Favourite radio/TV commentator?
Mike Ingham (BBC Radio 5 Live)/Martin Tyler (Sky Sports)

If you could introduce one change to improve PR between football clubs and football writers what would it be?
A futile exercise really. There will always be a fundamental difference between how journalists do their jobs and how football clubs would like us to do our jobs.

One sporting event outside football you would love to experience?
Boxing Day Ashes Test Match between Australia and England at the MCG Melbourne.

Last book read?
A Death In Calabria, Michele Giuttari.

Favourite current TV programme?
Homeland which just finished its second series recently. Captivating TV.

Your most prized football memorabilia?
A few years back I paid 500 quid for an arty picture of Pele in full flow at an event in Manchester. The man himself was there and signed it. I recall Gary Neville was at the same event – but he spent a lot more than me.

Advice to anyone coming into the football media world?
Talent always shines through so be persistent, develop a thick skin and always be polite no matter how rude and ungracious footballers can be in mixed zones.

1 Comment

1 Comment

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    David Melling

    October 31, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    Is this the Stepehn Bates from 24 Broughville Drive??!!
    I was watching breakfast TV on 29.10.14 and I could have sworn it was you! (40-year old flash backs!)
    If it is, then hello! If not, apologies

    Dave Melling (22 Broughville, and City fan!)

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