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Throwaway remark costs me dear

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Dan Walker | 10:24 UK time, Wednesday, 23 September 2009

I had a torrid weekend. What I thought was a throwaway comment on the Focus sofa has left me in all sorts of trouble with the family. Let me explain. After talking to Gary Speed and Lawro about the Sheffield derby, I then turned to Gary and uttered these words... "Well, good luck to Sheffield United for the rest of the season".

When I got home my wife - Yorkshire's finest and a Sheffield Wednesday fan - held her hands up and said "Good luck to Sheffield United?" I logged on to Facebook and there was Auntie Sally complaining that I had let down the family. My father-in-law has gone very quiet, my best mate from university is disgusted and I think Uncle Terry is planning revenge. I had forgotten how many of my inner circle are solid Hillsborough rock.

The good thing about that comment is that it deflected some of the attention away from the shirt that I chose to wear on the programme. It always amazes me how many people love to comment about clothing. When I used to work on North West Tonight, I wore a pair of beige shoes with a black suit. I'll be honest, they weren't the best clogs in the world and they currently reside in the loft. But two days after the show I got a letter from a viewer who dissected my dress sense, insulted the beige beauties and even sent a picture of what he thought was a good look. The shot was of him wearing shell-suit bottoms tucked into ice-white socks accompanied by a polo shirt and tasty gold chain. I sent the picture back commenting that my beige shoes were the least of his worries.

I would say that probably 40 people have talked to me about the show since Saturday and about 38 have mentioned the shirt. I don't think Gary's suggestion he wear my shirt while running the London Marathon helped my cause much! When I picked it out of the wardrobe I heard a little voice saying: "Put the shirt away, you gibbon, it's only going to cause grief." But then a more powerful voice reminded me that "plain shirts are for wimps". You might be pleased to hear that my two-year old daughter spilt yoghurt on the fella on Saturday afternoon and it has been sidelined for a few months. Still, it is scheduled to make a return in 2010.

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Anyway... enough on the shirt. Over the weekend, I noticed that our video piece looking behind the scenes at Arsenal proved to be very popular with punters. I was certainly amazed by the lavish nature of the dressing room at the Emirates. The chrome seat in the bath alone probably cost more than the tax bill currently hanging over Accrington Stanley.

Listening to Martin Keown talk about the changes Arsene Wenger has made at the club reminded me of a visit to Bolton's training ground at Euxton - just off the M61. I think it was a few months after Sam Allardyce had taken over. Phil Brown was his number two at the time and when we arrived for our interviews the players were all out on the pitch doing a bit of tai-chi. There wasn't a ball in sight and the kitman walked past us and said: "It's crazy isn't it? Whatever Wenger does, we do!"

It seems that the influence of Monsieur Wenger spreads much further then a small corner of North London. I know there are plenty of other innovators but I wonder how different the Premier League would have been had he never come along.

Wenger has had a hand in everything at Arsenal. There was once a pillar in the new dressing room which the boss had removed because it affected his team talks. He also came up with the idea to arrange the seats in horseshoe shape. Even the stadium has the Frenchman's stamp on it. On Wenger's insistence, there are huge cut-out sections in each corner that have been filled with glass, ensuring the pitch won't suffer from the lack of sun that causes so many problems at other big stadiums. And it clearly doesn't. Arsenal's carpet has been voted the best pitch in the country for the past four seasons!

It was fascinating to listen to Martin reminisce about the old times at Arsenal, but I still regret that he didn't want to replicate his dance for us. If you didn't watch the programme, the legend goes that before a home game Martin would be encouraged to inspire the troops with some moves. Michael Jackson would be on the ghetto blaster and Keown would go for it on the marble floor with his red boots on. I have never seen it - and I doubt I ever will - but Lee Dixon's description of it as "perhaps the most remarkable sequence of movements in history" makes you wonder exactly what sort of shapes Keown can throw. We can but dream.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Commentators and pundits must often be haunted by innocent comments such as that. Maybe you could convince your family that you had your fingers crossed?

  • Comment number 2.

    keep up the good work Dan, and the shirt rocks

  • Comment number 3.

    Dan! That shirt is very moderate! I spent years at my cafe in Bristol, brightening up people's lives in outrageous "Hawaiian" shirts -the worst one was from New Zealand, though one was a Paul Smith. Go for it!
    (Pity I can't post an image.....or is it?)

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    good enough getting critised by your family etc!
    bet martin doesn't dance as good as peter crouch

  • Comment number 6.

    Did think at the time the shirt would cause some comments.
    'Bold move' was the thought that crossed my mind when the show started!

  • Comment number 7.

    If you eant advice on what to wear, go and ask the F1 boys, EJ in particular

  • Comment number 8.

    Interesting blog

    Arsene has certainly made his mark in English football (even if some people ridicule him) he has transformed Arsenal from "boring" to "inspiring" but not just on the pitch has he made such a difference the Emirates Stadium is a joy to behold and his legacy is set in stone.

    Well done Arsene you sir are a legend!!!

  • Comment number 9.

    utter dross, bring back ray stubbs

  • Comment number 10.

    Are you going to do a piece on Burnley's dressing room this week? For compare and contrast reasons?

  • Comment number 11.

    It could be possible that the sender of said letter was being ironic, or equally possibly - the shoes were just that bad!

  • Comment number 12.

    groundbreaking stuff......

  • Comment number 13.

    the good news is that your shirt can be used in the Tour de France. If I am not mistaken, the red polka dot jersey is awarded to the King of the Mountains during the Tour. every cloud eh.....

  • Comment number 14.

    A nice post! I really enjoyed the back stage look at the Emirates : )

  • Comment number 15.

    Good to hear that you associate with Wednesdayites - it's probably through that that you've cultivated not only an appreciation for the game and how it should be played (in short, 'GERRIT ON T'FLOOR!') but also a healthy self-deprecating streak, which can be the only thing that satisfactorily explains the shirt choices...

    ...enjoyed the show this week, although a proper journalist would have staked out Keown's house all night with a long lens ready to catch the big man busting out some SAVOURY moves. Can't you plot with Dixon to secretly film him in the Focus office and stick it up on here? Nobody will ever find out!

  • Comment number 16.

    Hi Dan, Despite being tainted by association with the blue nad white virus your heartfelt good wishes for the Blades were appreciated. The shirt was a nice touch as well!

  • Comment number 17.

    I thoroughly enjoyed your blog. Not so sure about the shirt though. It is quite moderate, but it is horrid! A brave move indeed. I thought i'd missed comic relief weekend to be honest!

    Keep up the good work man.

  • Comment number 18.

    Well written piece Dan.

    it is very true that Arsene Wengar is without a doubt, one of the most influential managers, probably of all time. As a Liverpool fan, i have always been quite jealous of the style of play that he has incorporated in Arsenal's game that has made them one of the most feared teams in Europe.

    Arsenal nor the premierleague would be the same without him.

  • Comment number 19.

    Plain shirts may be for wimps sir but that one is reserved for the winner of the mountain stages in the tour de france isn't it?

  • Comment number 20.

    At least your wife has good taste! ;-)

    Sorry Dan, couldn't resist...

  • Comment number 21.

    Possibly one of those comments where whatever you say is wrong... either in trouble with the missus or telling Speedo that you hope his team fails this season?... could have resulted in a punch on the nose.

  • Comment number 22.

    i bet cousin matt wasnt too pleased either! or uncle andrew for that matter (im not a stalker, i used to sit with the former at hillsborough)! havent got round to watching focus the last few weeks but i'll be sure to get round to it at some point. glad you finally made it, matt has been going on for years about how you were next in line to succeed manish, i dont suppose you could tell him to get rid of the e-mails and texts part of the football league show could you? does my head in listening to liverpool supporters from northampton barking on about who they think should be the next manager of Barnsley! as if they know anything about the football league! and yes, wishing our not so friendly neighbours good luck for the season is never a wise move really! anyway rant over, best of luck on focus!

  • Comment number 23.

    Bring back Jake Humphreys. A Norwich fan who knows not to mention Ipswich without his fingers crossed behind his back!

  • Comment number 24.

    i'm sorry, although i do enjoy reading your posts and watching your videos but the shirt is just borderline awful. then again, i've been guilty of such purchase. brave to wore it on tele, mate.

    http://wdkf.co.uk/

  • Comment number 25.

    You look like you've won a climbing stage on the Tour de France.

  • Comment number 26.

    I am taking all your comments on board blog brethren.

    Just to put a slight positive on the king of the mountains number I did get a 'nice shirt on Focus last week' from a bloke in a BBC corridor yesterday. The only problem was... he was wearing a lemon tank-top! Case closed.

    We are going to try and film a behind the scenes this week... would you rather see how all the pieces for the programme are put together or have a wander round the football office?

    Let me know and hopefully it will be part of the blog next week.

  • Comment number 27.

    You still got the receipt for that shirt Dan?

  • Comment number 28.

    Keown throwing moves to Jackson and a disco shirt. I really should not eat so much stron cheese.

  • Comment number 29.

    I'd sooner see a shirts vs skins battle royale in the FF studio, to be honest. I'd wager that with your reach advantage you could overcome the raw power of Keown and the wily professionalism of Dixon. There could only be the low centre of gravity of Lord Garth of Crooks that could unsettle you.

    If you were a professional wrestler, what would be your ring name and finishing move?

  • Comment number 30.

    Great blog Dan
    A very enjoyable reaad
    Keep up the good work and lets hope we do get a viewing of Keowns legendary dance...it is said to be quite something

  • Comment number 31.

    Sadly didierdrogba85 the receipt is long gone. The shirt actually made its debut at an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet in Liverpool about 6 years ago. It remained untouched in the wardrobe until last weekend.

    Loving the wrestling tangent sausagearms. I would have to go for 'The Prime Minister' as my stage name but only so my finishing moves could be 'The 3 Line Whip' or 'The Cabinet Reshuffle'.

  • Comment number 32.

    A wander around the football office please Dan... don't bore us with how you put the stuff together... show us around the office - with particular attention to any talent working there....

    i tell you what would be really good - tell us how people working there got there jobs... not just a "i did 3 year degree in x followed by y"... but more of a actually how you get the job side of things and what peoples interest (and background in football is... or is it more media backgrounds.... would be interesting)

  • Comment number 33.

    'I sent the picture back commenting that my beige shoes were the least of his worries.'

    Good for you :)

  • Comment number 34.

    I'd like to see some fly on the wall stuff, but maybe capture some of the team on camera, with the onus on getting to see what goes on when normally the cameras aren't rolling. Some of the run up to the show, and then the bits after.

  • Comment number 35.

    Please explain why when the match is done and dusted, even the highlights or even the goals which I have already seen in my 'territory' can't be shown on the internet.
    Oh and next time you want to wear the King of the Mountains Jersey don't forget your bike. I agree plain shirts are for Wimps...and TV.

  • Comment number 36.

    bobbieflowers wrote:

    utter dross, bring back ray stubbs

    -----------------

    You missed "Want" from the start of that sentence and a "?" from the middle.


  • Comment number 37.

    That's quite a funny story about a chav taking the time to write in and criticise your dodgy footwear. He'd probably never seen any products outside of an Argos catalogue!

    I saw Focus last week and to be honest, I can't even remember your shirt so it couldn't have been that bad.

    I'd like to see more stories about the players and managers. The Arsenal thing was very interesting and you can see why Wenger doesn't seem to want to leave Arsenal. He's involved with almost every aspect of the club.

    I think stories such as dressing room activity (like Keowns body-popping) or strange superstitions of players would be quite interesting. Also, you always seem to get a one-dimensional view of managers from the media. I really like stories that show managers as who they are. I'm sure some of them are quite witty and funny, but you never get to see that in the post-match interview or the pre-game press conference...

  • Comment number 38.

    Great idea on the wrestling, Dan. Perhaps you could team up with Manish - he could have the stage name 'Mister President' and finish off his opponents with 'The Fifth Amendment'.

    I too would like to see more 'fleshing out' of the FF world. Obviously I'm sure that you'd never be allowed to get a warts'n'all portrayal of messrs Lineker, Hansen, Lawrenson et al sprawled out in front of the 3pm games with cans of Skol and egg sandwiches, but anything that takes us 'behind the curtain' is welcome.

    The difference that Arsene made to the English game is that he was absolutely the first manager to achieve success without ever having to portray either the fearsome authoritarian or the more-blokey-than-you beer monster wide boy. That he got results with a largely English team whilst being, let's be honest, a rather effeminate, softly-spoken Frenchman changed the English perception of football forever. He, Cantona and Ginola - three Frenchmen, were pivotal in the repositioning of what it was to be in football in this country.

    It's certainly a far cry from that classic interview with Tommy Docherty when he was at United:

    "You've had a lot of problems with your players - so your man-management can't have been that good?"
    "MY MAN- MAN- MAN- MANAGEMENT'S TERRIFIC! MY MAN- MAN- MAN - they break the rules, they gottae suffer the consequences!"

    We could do with the odd firebrand in the game though, for sure. Come back wee Gordon, you are missed!

  • Comment number 39.

    Dan, was watching ff, and it wasn't until my mum commented on your shirt being a bit strong that i noticed that you may need to reconsider on your choice of pattern.
    may i suggest, that instead of the red polka-dots, maybe pull out some verticle stripes? throw in some sequins! who knows!?

  • Comment number 40.

    Do your shirts have to get passed by anyone before you're allowed to wear them on FF?? Looking forward to some more behind the scenes action - can we see more stuff from the FF office... Is it possible to get a few clips of Hansen and co watching the live games??

 

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