Ian Holyman, UEFA.com's reporter at Stade de Suisse for BSC Young Boys v Everton FC, talks us through his day on the beat – from frostbite to chilli con carne.
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Have you ever tried typing with frozen fingers? No, well next time you are watching a match from the comfort – and warmth! – of your living room during winter, spare a thought for us journalists. Don't get me wrong, there are many wonderful moments to a typical UEFA Europa League evening, but frostbite is not one of them. Then again, you cannot expect Switzerland in February to be balmy, and Berne was certainly not on Thursday. Fortunately, the game made up for it.
After arriving by train from Basel for the round of 32 tie between BSC Young Boys and Everton FC, I travelled by tram through the Everton fan-lined streets of the Swiss capital to the hotel. I checked in, and checked I had what I would need – laptop, voice recorder and, above all, extra-warm clothes – before heading out.
It is always a great feeling to tick off another stadium, and the Stade de Suisse was new to me. 'New' also means, inevitably, 'getting lost'. So it proved as I wandered corridors filled with Young Boys memorabilia, the walls plastered with photos of the club's past greats and achievements, before I finally stumbled on the path to pitchside. It is at that moment that the childhood dreams of stepping out into such a stadium wearing boots came flooding back.
Those were quickly overwhelmed by the mystery of the location of my seat in the press stand. This particular riddle was speedily solved by the conspicuous sticker proclaiming 'UEFA.com' next to the monitor that is oh-so-precious when writing a match report, showing what I might have missed when alerted by the crowd's 'Oohs!' or roars of anger or delight.
After a quick check that the all-important internet connection was working, and some pictures of the stadium and thoughts on the game had been tweeted, there was only one priority: food! I can certainly recommend the Stade de Suisse's chilli con carne, which complemented perfectly my perusal of the match press kit and team sheets.
I emerged from the press room as the players spilled out of the tunnel. They stretched and ran around to warm up; I sipped contentedly on my steaming cup of coffee, keeping an eye out for anything quirky or noteworthy to be tweeted immediately or tucked away in the memory bank to later embellish my report.
That was written during the course of the game, and the 90 minutes served up five goals, a hatful of glorious chances and superb saves, a red card and a missed penalty, all of which meant writing, deleting and rewriting several times before everything could be shoehorned into the report's 250 word limit.
Once that was sent to London, the main focus was on two things: getting players' reactions along with all the other media, and – above all – finding somewhere to thaw out.