Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Friday saw me step aside as editor of telegraph.co.uk after five years in which the media landscape changed beyond recognition.

And for the first time in years, I took a Monday off. I went for a jog in the sun, read a book in the bath, sat down in front of the TV - and watched England win the World Cup.

How's that for a delayed-drop intro?

Anyway, there was no more surfing the Net for news, reading the weekend roundup from Lovelace, listening to Five Live in the traffic on Holloway Road. I just sprawled out to re-live the full 120 minutes I saw live in 1966, in colour at the cinema a few years later and on video 10 years ago when son Andrew was old enough to appreciate sporting nostalgia.

And did the memories come flooding back? Sadly not. From the moment Kenneth Wolstenholme - as BBC posh as Sir Alf was plummy - began talking us through England's greatest sporting moment, all I could think about was how far we'd come in broadcasting.

Here was this legend among commentators sounding like a kindly uncle talking you through a changing of the guard while adding little in the way of critical understanding of the game. The match drew millions of new fans, particularly from the middle classes who'd never stood on rain-lashed terraces. You couldn't wish for a better moment to bring them into the fold.

But what did they get? Apart from a few name checks, not a great deal. I wondered what my old colleague, Alan Hansen, would have made of George Cohen haplessly trying to dribble out of his own box, or Ray Wilson 'gifting' the Germans their opener and what Gary Lineker would have said about the space Geoff Hurst had to grab an equaliser. Never mind 'gole! It's a gole!' Where was the bloody defence?

That competition was my induction to the beautiful game I grew up thinking it was OK to toe-poke passes to the other side, fall flat on your arse and repeatedly whack left-footed bloomers into the photographers from 25 yards.

Okay, so the players were on a tenner or two a week, their wives went to Tupperware parties and the balls weighed a ton in the wet. It wouldn't have been fair to critise every flick and turn. But it would have been nice to have known what was what.

I've got the full Leicester City box set to get through. Even the Foxes greatest moments video: no silverware, but plenty of action. And the 1998 season highlights that sums up almost every season: So near, yet so far.

I'll still swear at the dodgy decisions - but I'll never knock Mottie again. We rhink it's all over? Well it is for me. For now.

Let's see what tomorrow brings.

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