Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler gives his early thoughts on the World Cup, including Russia’s opening win over Saudi Arabia, transport, technology, and dancing round the Kremlin…
I am travelling light around Russia. Well at least lighter than at any of my 10 previous World Cups.
In the past I have carried folders full of notes, lots of preview magazines and newspapers and even heavy reference books.
They are now obsolete, made so – as many of you discovered well before me – by the internet.
Now my tools are a laptop, a tablet, two mobile phones (one English, one Russian) and a small but crucial piece of kit called a dongle. Five devices which all need plenty of TLC but which keep me fully in touch with work and home. Their travelling companions are five different chargers which has left me at times with those kinds of wires crossed, not helped by acquiring so far only three plug adaptors for hotel rooms that only have two sockets available. It has already been testing in terms of electronic logistics.
The devices were all in the commentary position with me for the opening match in Moscow. I just managed the Plugin before the Putin address to the world. Fine sentiments which one hopes were meant to resonate beyond the tournament. Politicians’ eyes light up at the global stage football can bring them. The Russian president did not waste his opportunity though I am told that there is a surprising verbosity about the country. Even a Happy Birthday greeting can run into many sentences.
If Putin is responsible for the bad press Russia often receives in the West his citizens have made a great start in welcoming the world to this vast land. Service even in the crucial areas of security with a smile!
The transport system also makes working at the Luzhniki Stadium very simple with announcements and station signs in English. In terms of numbers of trains the Metro is the equal of London’s Victoria Line at its most efficient. The fans after the opening game were all boarded for free to speed up the exit process.
Of course the majority of those supporters left in a mood of delight and disbelief. The much-criticised Russian squad, after seven games without win, hit all the right notes, just as Robbie Williams had done in his earlier gig which passed for the opening ceremony.
It was hard in the summing up of the match to apportion accurately the praise for Russia and the blame for Saudi Arabia. The poster boy of the home team Alexander Golovin certainly lived up to the hype, rounding off the goalfest with that sumptuous free-kick to add to his two earlier assists.
1:17 Marcus Rashford trained with England for the first time since their arrival in Russia
Russia did respond to considerable pressure. Had they lost it is no exaggeration to say that domestically the World Cup would have been ruined on day one. The emotions went very much the other way. Dancing in streets round the Kremlin? Yes there certainly was!
Describing five goals was a great way for all the commentators to start the tournament. And thanks to a combination of some of my five devices I can quickly share my experiences with you.
To be continued……….