Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Croatia away

Croatia v England on Wednesday is a massive game. If we lose... our chances of getting to the World Cup finals will be much reduced. Sadly, barely any of us will be able to see it on TV.

Croatia are a bit of a nightmare team for me. I set Foul Play in the month just before the last European Championships. When I wrote the book it looked like we'd be going to Austria and Switzerland. And it looked good until Croatia scored that winner late on.

Then they scored. And while the nation was grieving our not qualifying, I had to go up to my desk and change a hundred things in Foul Play. My deadline was the next day. So I worked through the night to change the novel's setting from June 2008 to an undetermined time.

I wish I was there on Wednesday night. I've been to Zagreb and seen how fanatical they are about their football. Frankly, they make us look like a load of moaning whingers. They know how to get behind their team.

A lovely country, Croatia. My favourite place is Dubrovnik. I wrote a story about going there to remember my dad, who went there just before he died. (It's in a collection called Four Fathers, published by Yorkshire's magnificent small press, Route - www.route-online.com.)

Instead of being in Zagreb I will be in Harrogate, doing an event at a library to help launch the town's Sporting Words festival - www.sportingwords.co.uk. Worth a look on Thursday 2 to Sunday 5 October.

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