How did you spend the long, hot, World Cup summer of 2018? For Jonathan Northcroft, chief football writer of The Sunday Times, it was 35 unforgettable days spent criss-crossing Russia, covering the biggest sporting event on the planet. He reported on a new England team: young, daring and successful both on the pitch, where they defied expectations to reach the semi-final, and off it, where they took on reporters in a darts challenge. He discovered a different Russia to the hostile state he was warned about in pre-tournament security briefings: open, friendly and football mad. And he experienced the rush of working as a football writer at the very top of the game: meeting the players, going to the games, and battling the deadlines. This is his personal account of a month when we dropped everything to watch the best World Cup for a generation.