Thanks for your response to our appeal for stories about those times – heroic or just plain embarrassing – when a journalist has “starred” in a news story. Simon Harvey started the ball rolling with his tale of being struck by lightning as he pursued a runaway donkey while covering a summer fete for the Henley Standard. Click here if you missed it. Today’s offering is from Chris Fidler, News Editor of the Harborough and Lutterworth Mail, and it’s an everyday story of blood, patriotism and a good kicking at the 1998 World Cup. Now tell us YOUR story.
I was a wet-behind-the-ears junior reporter who had been with the HarboroughMail for four months.
It was 1998. It was World Cup year and four days before England’s openinggame in Marseille I managed to wangle a ticket along with my mate.
The game was on Monday, and Harborough Carnival was on the Saturday before.After doing the local reporter bit for the carnival my bosses decided, aftermuch unbearable deliberation that I could have the Monday and Tuesday off togo.
They said: “Take your Harborough Mail, get a picture holding it at the gameand do us a report from the terrace, our man in Marseille, etc, etc.”
I vividly remember saying something about going home in a Marseilleambulance.
These words came back to haunt me just two days later.
Got the train down to the south of France, found the worst ‘hotel’ inEurope, and had a drink with my friend and a few England fans.
It was a bit tense and tear gas would roll up the hill every now and then!
The next day we went to the match. No trouble, well, not too much – we seemedto miss the bottle fights outside the ground after the game.
That evening we were in a bar by Marseille station, not far from the hotel,with a handful of fans.
Then the shutters went down and we were told to leave.
So we did…..
My friend and I left together, and walked through a small square All Icould see was lots of French North Africans glaring at me! We had Englandshirts on!
(What happened next means I never wear colours away when following SheffieldWednesday.)
I was punched in the face by a bloke who came from nowhere. I fell againsta ‘phone box and as I looked up I saw a size 10 boot and it connectedwith the accuracy of an Alan Shearer scorcher with my hooter!
Somehow we managed to escape to the station. I had blood pouring down myface, and was pretty pissed off, or scared, as I think you call it!
Some French police guys in the station laughed a lot and eventually got anambulance for me.
I ended up having stitches in my eyebrow and a broken nose.
I got a taxi back to the station, found my mate, realised we couldn’t getback to the hotel alive and spent a night on the cockroach-infested floor inthe station.
Got the train the next morning, and stayed at my sister’s that night.
She phoned the boss who said something about a great splash!!!
So I drove 80-odd miles back to Market Harborough, typed out a full-pagefeature about the ‘experience’ and was interviewed by a colleague about myeventful trip!
I was the splash that week, sales dropped (it could have something to dowith me looking a bit like a psychopath in a blood-splattered England shirton the front), and people in the local nightclub stayed out of my way!
I am still at the paper, but am struggling to get a job in sports writing. Ireckon editors shy away when they find out how ‘involved’ I get when I go toa game – bugger!
I have even interviewed Vinnie Jones and had an argument about the score ofa game he played in! MacIntyre eat your heart out!
Now tell us YOUR story of when the tables were turned and YOU made the headlines in your newspaper. Ring the HoldTheFrontPage newsdesk on
01332 291111 x6022, or e-mail us now
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