The Wonderer: Sports stars can come up with some interesting excuses
1:00pm Monday 10th February 2014 in Sport
I’VE heard some great excuses not to do interviews in my time but I had a first this week, as one very well-respected former Wanderers player delayed a chat with me because he was skiing.
I won’t name names – needless to say it wasn’t David Felgate or Bary Cowdrill – but it will go down as one of the better ones I have been given down the years.
In this job it can be quite easy to forget that the people you are chasing for stories are busy trying to live ordinary lives away from sport.
I once interrupted ex-Whites defender Anthony Barness as he was trying to tile a floor, and a colleague of mine also managed to make Marc Tierney race from his sun-lounger by the poolside to answer his mobile phone during his summer holiday in Tenerife.
To his immense credit, he did the interview too.
Nowadays, most player interviews at football clubs in the Championship or the Premier League tend to take place at club premises – under sanitised and controlled conditions.
But when you tip your toe into other sports you can experience some wild and wacky interviews.
I once managed to get through to ex-Salford rugby league coach Karl Harrison as he was trying to move house. Somehow he managed to answer the phone while simultaneously shifting a leather sofa into the back of a moving van.
Another time I contacted the multi-medal winning Olympian Ben Ainslie through his website, emailing the Macclesfield-born sailor to see if he would give an interview.
Within a few minutes he was on the end of the phone.
“You sound far away,” said I, then a cub reporter at the Macclesfield Express.
“Yes, I’m just docking at Port of Spain,” he said.
“It’s in Trinidad,” he added, picking up on the fact I hadn’t said anything for 30 seconds in disbelief.
My last offering is from former British tennis number one Greg Rusedski, who once held an interview with me at Bolton Arena over a pizza buffet.
I had been loitering with intent to chat for about two hours while he coached young players on the courts but when I finally saw my opportunity, one of the LTA staff stopped me in my tracks and said that only players and coaches were allowed into the canteen. Crestfallen, I made my way to the exit, only for the cheery Canadian voice to call me back.
“Hey come over here man, we’ll talk here, forget him,” he said.“Do you want some salad? In fact, forget salad, you want some pizza?” I did, as it happened.