World Cup memories (10): around the world in 18 days

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Not really a break for Pete Sixsmith, whose series of World Cup reminiscences resumes tomorrow. But I also have reason to remember France 98. It was the year I feared I’d be keeping my head down in street battles, but ended up travelling the world …

Imagine you’ve been told at work that you’re going on a month of night shifts, and suddenly you’re given a paid holiday instead. Or that instead of representing your company at a winter conference in Skegness, the location has been switched to the Seychelles.

That was a bit like my France 98. I spent the first four months of the year or more expecting The Daily Telegraph to send me to report on hooliganism, especially any outbreaks involving England fans, or more accurately violent English criminals drawn to the location of football games. It would be an understatement to say I was not looking forward to it.

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The World Cup: priceless memories as kickoff nears


The French ask earnest questions about the cost of their underperforming team’s luxury World Cup accommodation. Emile Heskey completes the double whammy: selected to compete at the highest level of a game he seldom plays, then crocks a key colleague in training. Paraguay carry Sunderland’s colours in Group F. And all the time Pete Sixsmith’s series of World Cup memories yields gems from the modern history of international football …

Photo courtesy of Elliott Brown

On a weekend
free of competitive football, Salut! Sunderland had a quiet time, attracting a relatively short procession of readers.

Dash off a knockabout piece about Alan Hutton and Spurs and Tottenham supporters arrive in droves. Question an Arsenal player’s attachment to the Corinthian spirit and the hit count hits the roof.

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