Golden Ticket: Globe-trotting sporting spectacular from Melbourne to the windy city

First stop Melbourne, on Nick Westby's 'golden ticket' odyssey through the sporting highlights of 2015.
First stop Melbourne, on Nick Westby's 'golden ticket' odyssey through the sporting highlights of 2015.
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Where would you go if you had an access-all-areas pass to the biggest sporting events in the world in 2015? Nick Westby takes us on an adventure.

On one of his more amenable days – they are becoming rarer – the sports editor summons me to his office on the top floor of The Yorkshire Post towers to offer me the trip of a lifetime.

“Young Westby,” he booms, resting back in his office chair, the shadow cast by his self-portrait falling upon him, “I’ve got a challenge for you.

“Here’s a golden ticket to one event per month for 2015. The only catch is it has to be a different sport every time, and I want a 1,000-word report, a colour piece and video diary from each of them.

“Feel free to use the company helicopter.”

With that, he presses a red button and the floor opens up, swallowing me whole and dumping me back at my desk somewhere near the basement of the YP skyscraper.

Within minutes I’m on the roof of the building boarding the YP chopper and setting off for Melbourne.

For my odyssey around the world starts at the Australian Open, the first tennis grand slam of the year. I’m there to see if Andy Murray can put a disappointing 2014 behind him, and to see what life is left in the ageless legs of Roger Federer.

With all the miles I plan on clocking up over the ensuing 12 months, the biggest test of the chopper comes on February 1.

In the morning – UK time – I’ll be courtside for the men’s final, before heading over the mighty Pacific Ocean and landing in Arizona sometime before 11pm your time for the second stop on my journey.

American football’s SuperBowl XLIX is about to kick off, but I’ve just time to buy a foot-long hot dog and a foam hand before I take my seat. As it stands now, I fancy a Seattle Seahawks-Pittsburgh Steelers showdown in the desert. But I’ve been wrong before.

Unfortunately, with the SuperBowl coming so early, I’ve got to spend the rest of February in the office, polishing the boss’s shoes and servicing the helicopter.

In March, I’m staying local. I’m bound for the Cheltenham Festival to try to win back some of the money I spent on concessions at the Rod Laver Arena and the University of Phoenix Stadium.

The chopper does not rest idle for long, though. In April I’m heading back to Augusta. Every year I take my golden ticket to that exclusive stretch of real estate in Southern Georgia for four days of golfing nirvana, and it is the one place I’m going back to this time.

After the serene pace of golf I’m ready to accelerate through the gears so, in May, I’m headed to another rich man’s playground, Monaco, for the crown jewel of the Formula 1 season.

Will Lewis Hamilton be victorious? Can Fernando Alonso reclaim some of his former glories? I’ll tweet you from the YP’s luxury yacht moored alongside Bernie Ecclestone’s to let you know.

With the weather now stunning in Europe, I’m moving north to Berlin for the Champions League final on June 4. In my downtime this year, I’ve been working with a voice coach so I’m ready to belt out the Champions League anthem with gusto.

In July, 2014, Yorkshire was the place to be for the Tour de France, and with those memories still fresh I’m bound for Utrecht in July for the Grand Depart of the 102nd edition of the race. Part of me wants to spend my time in Holland letting people know how great a job Yorkshire did hosting the event 12 months earlier.

After Utrecht, I’m hiring a car and beating a path through France for three weeks, following the ebb and flow of the world’s greatest bike race.

August dawns and it’s time to take the helicopter east. Beijing is the destination for the world athletics championships.

There are a lot of questions to be answered. Is Usain Bolt back to his best? Can Jessica Ennis-Hill return to former glories after having a baby? It will be intriguing to find out.

Via a stop at home for a bath and a good meal, I’m heading Stateside, for the third time, in September for the grand final of the ITU triathlon world series.

The windy city of Chicago hosts the eighth and final leg, and before seeing which of Yorkshire’s all-conquering brothers Alistair or Jonny Brownlee walk off with the title of world champion, I’m going to eat my body weight in deep-pan pizza and chill out by Lake Michigan.

I’ve earned it. It’s been a tough year.

But at least I’m coming home in October for the knockout stages of the Rugby World Cup.

Twickenham is the destination on Halloween for the World Cup final. Stuart Lancaster hopes to join me there, or rather he hopes his team are in the final, I might have mis-read his text.

That New Zealand will be the other team emerging from the tunnel into the chill London air is one of the safest bets of the year.

By November, I’m ready for some sun, and my thoughts are starting to turn towards the Olympics.

Rio is my destination for a few test events and to check the temperature on preparations for the 2016 Summer Games.

With my nose burnt to a crisp, I need to cool down, so for my final stop I’m flying back over the Atlantic to the Italian Dolomites in December for the World Cup skiing event in Val Gardena.

Exhausted from cris-crossing the globe, I’m home for Christmas 2015 to discover that my desk has been moved and the sports editor has been demoted for a blatant mis-use of company resources.

Something about a helicopter and sending some office boy around the world.