Saturday, 28 November 2009
A TALE OF TWO CITIES
This has not been a routine Saturday.
First of all, credit where it's due. Manchester City have broken new boundaries in media relations by not only producing a first class pie but also serving it direct to my seat. Let me give more details about this important development. The matchday media sheet states: "For members of the media a bespoke pie has been created as a half-time snack by our Consultant Executive Chef John Benson-Smith". Full marks to the chef and also to the member of City's staff who, spotting me still hardwired to my mic and cans as the rest of the media headed for the press room at half-time, brought me one tasty bespoke pie to make sure I didn't miss out.
That's what I call style.
I was there to report City v Hull for Setanta Ireland. Pre-match, things hadn't gone so well. Setanta always ask for their reporters to be allocated a seat which has an ISDN port so we can connect up our kit and dial through to Dublin. Unusually for City, they hadn't done it this time. I was switched to a seat which DID have an ISDN port...but when I dialled Dublin, nothing happened. So I asked the media assistant if the ISDN was enabled. At City, unlike most clubs, they route lines to the various ISDN points themselves on a match by match basis. "Yes, the points are all live," he said. Then I got the club's telecom engineer to have a look. "It's not live," he said.
And away he went to get it sorted. It took another ten minutes before I was through to Setanta's sound gallery. Good job I wasn't in a mad hurry to get on the air.
Then, while City and Hull occupied themselves with a 1-1 draw, the mobile starts beeping with tales of the unexpected from Chester City's match v Eastbourne. Fans on the pitch in the first half protesting about the "ex" owner Stephen Vaughan (see countless previous posts for the background). Game held up. Fans on the pitch again in the second half. Game delayed. Match abandoned.
Back home, straight onto the fans' message board Devachat.com to find out what went on. One thread has had over 14,000 hits already. I shouldn't approve of fans invading pitches but a) this was clearly a peaceful protest and b) I can't say anything other than it was totally, totally justified.