From Matlock to the Maracanã...via Ceefax

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On a late April afternoon almost 40 years ago, a young Scarborough lad experienced for the first time the misery that comes with supporting a football team.

Matlock Town had crushed Scarborough at Wembley, a 4-0 trouncing in non-league football’s annual centrepiece, the FA Trophy final.

Howard Nurse wasn’t at the game. Instead he watched the result flash up on Grandstand.

Despite the result, it was that afternoon in front of the TV at his Peasholm childhood home that kicked off his love of the beautiful game - and it’s TV that will allow the 48-year-old to spend this summer rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest names in the sport at the World Cup in Brazil.

Having started his career earning literally pennies for his rants about Neil Warnock’s ageing mid-80s Scarborough side in the now defunct Scarborough Trader, Howard now serves as football editor for the BBC website, as well as working behind-the scenes on MOTD2 Extra and Football Focus.

A typical day can see him spend his lunch with Phil Neville, before shouting into Martin Keown’s ear in a darkened Manchester studio.

But every four years, he gets to escape Media City to jet off for the World Cup.

It’s a job that millions of football lovers can only dream of, and having covered his first World Cup in 2010 in South Africa, he can’t wait to jet off again.

“I was in Johannesburg for the last World Cup, and even though it’s a dangerous place, it was just brilliant,” he said.

“When you land at the airport, and see all the marketing and advertising, you feel apart of it right away.

“The whole place is World Cup branded, flags everywhere on the street and you really take in the atmosphere.”

He will be a part of a BBC contingent that could dwarf the armies of smaller countries. However, with dozens of games to cover via print, TV and radio in a nation bigger than mainland Europe, the numbers are needed.

Four years ago, Howard said that he “wangled” his way into the final, but this year he will be spending most of his tournament in Rio while he dots his teams around the vast land.

He hopes to take in games at the spiritual home of football, the sprawling soccer temple that is the Maracana.

It couldn’t be further away from the bitterly cold Saturday afternoons he used to spend learning his trade on the Bovril-soaked McCain Stadium terraces, although he claims those days of dealing with amateurs in North Yorkshire have served him well when working alongside a team of multi-millionaire Premiership professionals.

“At a Premiership club, you would struggle to have the relationships you do in the lower leagues,” he said.

“We would go on the team bus and we would just know everything, the ins and outs and how the club works.

“I can use that now. When I’m meeting Phil Neville I know what to ask him, what’s appropriate - and what’s not.”

He joined the BBC in 1997, moving to London from Scarborough to work on Ceefax.

While it lacked glamour, it tightened up his writing, and enabled him to join the corporation’s web team when the website was launched in 2000.

But despite covering the tournament in a professional capacity, he will still be cheering on England when the side start their campaign against Italy on June in the early hours of June 15.

“The fact England are there is a boost, as it goes without saying I want them to do well.”