The Questionnaire: Paul Wade

The former SJA vice-chairman, broadcaster and author Paul Wade, answers this week’s Questionnaire, on a career that began uncorking John Arlott’s wine, through to doing the football results on Dutch radio, and meeting the likes of Teofilo Stevenson, Ni-Chi Chin and Kip Keino. And he passes on sound advice from John Snagge

Give a brief summary of your career to date, and your current work.

After 15 years at the BBC, I went freelance, doing anything and everything from broadcasting on radio and television to writing books and filing stories for national newspapers and magazines. Since this included travelling to three Olympics, three World Cups and a host of regional Games, I drifted into travel writing and that is now a major portion of my career. I am still busy with sport, doing voice-overs on everything from golf to pool. About to update best-selling Sports Injuries handbook with Dr Malcom Read.

Tell us about your involvement with the SJA.

David Hunn (who else?) recruited me back in my BBC World Service days and I went on to serve on the Committee and then as his vice chairman. BBC Bush House was handy for the Fleet Street pubs where we held our meetings.

What was your first sports journalism assignment?

As a lad in BBC Outside Broadcasts I worked with John Arlott (pictured) at Lord’s: that meant getting him black coffee, uncorking his wine and passing him notes about when to hand back to the studio. My first freelance work was broadcasting the English football results to a Dutch radio station every Saturday afternoon.

John Terry or Steve Gerrard? John Terry: I like a captain to be able to assess what is happening in front of him.

What has been your most memorable/enjoyable assignment during your career?

Thrilling though the World Cups and Olympic Games were, I really enjoyed covering the Pan American Games, Asian Games and African Games where you could still mix with the athletes and interview them personally in their rooms or over lunch in the athletes’ cafeteria: Teofilo Stevenson, Ni-Chi Chin, Filbert Bayi, Kip Keino (pictured).

What is the latest task you have been working on – was it good, bad or indifferent?
Very good. Just back from Lausanne and a visit to the excellent Olympic Museum: you can use your entry ticket to punch up instant video highlights of many great moments from the past. Nostalgia corner!

What is really the worst thing about your job?

I should say ‘paperwork’, but Kathy Arnold, my wife (also a freelance journalist) is brilliant at this, so I am spoiled.

Matthews or Finney? Finney: loved the way he ran at defences when he played at centre forward.

What sports event would you most like to attend as a spectator? A Superbowl

Which colleagues or managers have been most influential or helpful in your career, and how?

Paddy Feeny, who hosted Saturday Special on BBC World Service for many years: a special combination of sports fan and journalist.

Before that John Snagge once told me to “Aim at what looks impossible, what you would really like to do. If you persist, you just might make it.” He was right.

What has been your favourite sports-related movie?
Breaking Away: made in 1979, long before the United States got into cycling. Very funny.

Phil Bennett or Barry John? Barry John: gliding through defences…sadly, often England’s.

What would be your first choice of car? Morgan Aero 8

Which sports journalist’s work do you look for first (and why)?

Love reading Frank Keating: a sports fan with a typewriter, growing old gracefully.

Wenger or Mourinho? Wenger: he has made good players into great players.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to enter the profession?

Although you have to be passionate about sport, you also have to be passionate about detail. It’s about homework, homework and more homework.