Friday, 15 April 2011
Ich Bin Ein Wembley Berliner
Fifteen years ago I was a reporter at BBC Radio 5 Live. The England tickets had sold out instantly and were going for a fortune on the black market. But I found out the day before the match that there were still some available in the Germany end.
The problem was, you needed a German passport to buy them at the Wembley box office.
So I called the World Service radio boys and asked them if any Germans fancied coming along with me and buying two tickets - one for them and one for me. Sure enough, one of them did.
Job done and ticket price claimed back on expenses.
It made a decent report on the Peter Allen and Jane Garvey breakfast show - the glamorous TV news boys even phoned up and asked me to do a version for them, which helped me get a stint on the Six O'Clock News.
I remember more about the experience of being with the German fans than the match itself. My new pal from the World Service translated their most colourful chants, which consisted of putting index fingers to each side of their heads in a devil-horn style and taunting the English about having mad cow disease.
I also remember the explosive moment when that Kuntz equalised. The German turned to me and shouted cruelly but accurately: "Dat's Football!"
Aside from not being with the English knuckleheads, there were two other bonuses about being with the Germans: the famous Gazza golden goal miss in extra time was at our end (one less pint and we'd have won it), and the penalty shoot-out was, too - even though the goal was still about half a mile away in the horrible old Wembley.
So that was odd: England lost but I was an honorary German for the day and everyone was delighted.