ANDREW WARSHAW on Arsenal playing second fiddle to University Challenge, a frozen shoulder and Guys and Dolls
SUNDAY JANUARY 8
You know Christmas is well and truly over when the decorations are taken down but at least there is a new dog-training class for our lovable mutt Maisie who, for once, does not disgrace herself. First task of the day is buying the Mail on Sunday to check whether my Arsenal preview has got in. It has, always a warm feeling for a freelancer. Intend spending most of today resting up after driving to Norwich and back 24 hours ago having been sent to interview the parents of Oldham’s on-loan defender Tom Adeyemi following the infamous verbal abuse case at Anfield. Well, interview in theory. Unfortunately there was no-one at the inn but a peep over the fence revealed a makeshift goal and half a dozen balls. The right house then. Three hours’ doorstepping failed to result in anyone returning home so it was time for a spot of lateral thinking. Ended up writing a colour piece after a friendly neighbour painted a warm-hearted picture of the Adeyemi family – and invited me in out of the cold for several cups of coffee! This particular Sunday afternoon means only one thing for this particular FA Cup-worshipping, Spurs-supporting traditionalist: the Fourth Round draw. My stomach churns as the balls are plucked out. Phew, Watford away. Let’s not get carried away but an obviously winnable tie. Before that, watch Man City so nearly snatch a dramatic draw with 10 men against Man Utd thanks to an inspired piece of tactical nous from Mancini. Tonight I’m going to the Old Bull for my music website nlbeat.com (couldn’t resist a plug), only just set up and sadly not revenue-earning but a fun hobby. The pub, which has been turned into a veritable galaxy of memorabilia, has vinyl LPs and singles attached to every wall and concert ticket stubs, featuring all the great acts and donated by music fans, covering every inch of every bar table stretching back to the early 1960s.
MONDAY JANUARY 9
The editor of FC Business, one of my magazine clients, informs me that my piece on Portsmouth’s financial mismanagement has ruffled more than a few feathers. Well let’s face it, I am still a small creditor waiting to be paid. Most of today is taken up working on stories for Insideworldfootball.biz for which I have the grand title of Chief Football Reporter. The editor of FC Business is still speaking to me by the afternoon, thank goodness, and commissions a piece on goal-line technology, with the big decision due to made at the beginning of March. Tried my hardest to avoid Arsenal-Leeds on the box but even I have to marvel at Thierry Henry’s match winner. Only after watching University Challenge and Above Suspicion, however.
TUESDAY JANUARY 10
My role at Insideworldfootball.biz also means doubling up at times for our main site Insidethegames.biz so it’s off to Wembley to cover a press conference about the Olympic torch. While there manage to get two exclusives for the site with BOA chairman Colin Moynihan. This evening I’m joining my son at Underhill to support our second team, Barnet, in the Johnstone’s Paint trophy southern section semi-final first leg. Paolo di Canio’s Swindon are massive favourites after their exploits against Wigan but Barnet score a second-half equaliser to at least keep the tie alive with Wembley the prize. Well worth the 10 quid entrance fee.
WEDNESDAY JANUARY 11
Ring a few clients touting for business and check with the editor of Fifa Magazine to see when my piece on Qatar will be published. Told by the Mail on Sunday that I’ll be second man at Spurs versus Wolves on Saturday alongside Patrick Collins. Always a privilege. Couldn’t ask for a better game to report on. Speaking of Spurs, here it comes, our game in hand. It’s off to White Hart Lane, again with my son, to roar on the boys. It’s only four overground stops but the recorded information on the train hasn’t been amended and wrongly informs us we are going in the other direction and heading back the way we came. Everyone breaks into laughter. Good old Network Rail. After meeting friends for a hasty kebab a 20-minute walk from the ground, I pick up the tickets with moments to spare. Everton are typically disciplined and organised – I have enormous respect for David Moyes given the resources at his disposal – but as so often they lack penetration. The score remains at 1-0 until Benny’s thunderbolt makes sure of the points. What a night.
THURSDAY JANUARY 12
Slept appallingly maybe because of all the excitement at Spurs or maybe because my frozen shoulder starts playing up again. It’s becoming a right pain, literally and metaphorically. No golf for the past two months. Time to start forward-planning for the Euro 2012 finals in Poland and Ukraine but will I go? Haven’t missed a major finals since the early 1980s but this could be the first. The Olympics will be 24/7 and I’m not getting any younger. Nothing for talkSPORT this week. Normally I’m on at least once as their football politics man but no calls so far. Still, today’s highlight is meeting Jordan’s Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, the newest kid on the block among the Fifa hierarchy who has invited me for a one-on-one during a private trip to London. He gives me a couple of decent lines for Insideworldfootball and another which I’m asked not to use for a few weeks. Being a theatre buff, tonight I’m off to see Guys and Dolls at the Gatehouse in Highgate, north London. It’s probably the best production I’ve ever seen of one of THE great musicals. If only I had been discovered during my long amateur dramatics career.
FRIDAY JANUARY 13
What scary moments will Friday 13th throw up? Luckily none to speak though my weekly column for my newspaper client in Doha is 24 hours late so I’d better get a move on. Just manage to get it written after walking Maisie before it’s off to Arsenal for Arsene Wenger’s lunch time press conference ahead of the game against Swansea. I’m there for the Sundays and first hear Wenger tell the dailies he is fed up always being asked about Spurs. I have to bite my lip. Finish the day quite late before I realise another week has flown past without having worked on my book. Next week it HAS to take priority.
SATURDAY JANUARY 14
Spend much of the morning preparing for Spurs-Wolves. Always try to take as much written research as I can to games. You never know. Make sure the dongle is working just in case the internet doesn’t. Given a car park pas by my neighbour who is a season ticket holder. Train is more comfortable and slightly quicker but I take advantage of the offer since by the time I need to leave there are only two trains an hour to get home. Another end to a varied week. How much have I earned? Can’t think about that yet…there’s Match of the Day to watch.