World Cup Diary: Day 8

My World Cup beanie came to good use on a bitterly cold night at St Helens.

The beanie was given to me at a media launch several months ago, and it was on Wednesday night in Bristol that I realised just why – after freezing  my ears off there, it was the first thing in my bag for Saturday’s games.

The day started at 10.30am, leaving Warrington to head over to Huddersfield for the England game. Arrived at the ground at the same time as the Irish team, with the media desk just inside the player’s entrance. There was a cheesed off photographer giving grief to a World Cup member of staff over something barely related to them. It was a bit of “do you not know who I am” moment (although as it happens, I’d never seen said photographer before), but some people get lost in their own self-importance.

One of the World Cup press guys, Garry Miller, showed me the way to the media room, thankfully not the same room as it usually is for Super League games, which is a tiny room with no windows.

Up to the press box for kick-off, and it was tight. There are plenty of desks at Huddersfield, so Super League games are usually relatively pleasant, but we were packed in for this one. The wi-fi was up and down, but thankfully the game allowed for a relatively stress free match report. I sat next to the BBC’s Paul Fletcher.

Speaking of the BBC, we caught wind of Steve McNamara’s frosty pre-match interview with Tanya Arnold, and I had expected a few fireworks at the press conference, but it was a bit of a damp squib before McNamara scurried off. We’d already spotted a few of the players darting out for the coach by the time we got down to the mixed zone, and when we arrived there was only Ryan Hall there.

With not really too much time to wait, given we had to get across to St Helens, and it was already half 5, we made the decision to jump in the car.

Stopped at Birch services to pick up our web developer, who is a Leeds United season ticket holder, and was on his way back from that match to get to Langtree Park. Then it was a case of where to park in St Helens. We headed for the multi-storey not far from the ground, only to see the car in front of us be the last one allowed in.

Unfortunately, not all media can get reserved car parking, but we chanced our arm in the main car park, and thankfully they had a spot left. It was absolutely chucking it down, so a good job really.

Got in the ground at about half 7, took a picture of the teamsheet for Facebook but then was getting grief for it being blurry, despite the fact you could make everything out – people love a moan – and settled in to my seat for the match.

The game was probably the quickest match I think I’ve ever been to. I felt like we’d barely got going and there was 36 minutes on the clock, and the second half similarly flew by.

Bumped in to Rochdale chief executive Ryan Bradley at half-time, and he was buzzing about the successful match between Fiji and Ireland at Spotland last Monday.

At full time, report was done, and it was down for the press conferences. The Australia games attract more attention than most, as there is a strong Australian media presence – many of the UK press hadn’t bothered having covered England earlier in the day – and there was the big news about Luke Lewis injury, with him forced off the field having clattered an advertising hoarding in the second half.

Got home at about 11, just in time to catch the back end of Match of the Day. Work didn’t end there. Typed up the Tim Sheens quotes for a Luke Lewis story, and then had to edit a few images to go on various stories we’d produced during the day. Then there was the preview for Scotland v Italy to write.

Two games on Sunday, Wrexham for me, which is a shame, because both promise to be intriguing contests.

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