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England v Wales pits brother against brother

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Dan Walker | 10:01 UK time, Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Greetings and salutations! Sorry there was no blog last week. I have been inundated (one email) with questions about my absence but the simple reason was a family holiday in the Kent countryside.

When you go on a break with three small children, being away from home is not too dissimilar to normal life. In fact the only difference seems to be the number of times you go swimming in the space of five days!

Having put the Speedos back in the drawer, I am now back in the office and getting ready for our first on-the-road programme for a while. The whole of Football Focus comes live from Cardiff on Saturday as we build up to the Wales v England European qualifier at the Millennium Stadium.

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It’s the sort of game that takes me back to my youth. When the two countries met back then, the Walker household was always a little strained. My mum is as Welsh as they come. She comes from a miniscule village in the Brecon Beacons, learnt the basics of a line-out at the age of five and cries every time she sings (badly), hears someone else sing or thinks about ‘Land of My Fathers’.

I have no Welsh twang in my accent but my middle name betrays my heritage - Meirion! Before you start – it’s a unisex name – and I have grown to love it even though I spent five years at school suffering Robin Hood-related jibes.

My dad, in stark contrast, is a norf-London lad; a man with a beard who grew up watching his beloved Spurs winning things in the early 1960s.

He took me White Hart Lane for my eighth birthday as part of my football education. I remember him crouching down next to me, pointing at Glenn Hoddle and saying, “That bloke is the best midfielder in England”.

I also remember spending most of the match transfixed by a bloke in front of us with the biggest head I’ve ever seen.

I’ve always grown up an England fan but I think my brother was won over by my mother’s cooking. When England used to face Wales at any sport my brother would wear his red shirt with pride and I would sport the three Lions.

When he says “we” he’s talking about Gareth Edwards, Phil Bennett, Dean Saunders, Ian Rush and Owen Glendower (or Owain Glyndŵr). When I say “we” I have visions of the Underwood brothers, Terry Butcher and Winston Churchill.

Whatever the result of the match, the afternoon would invariably end in some sort of ruck on the living room carpet between the two Walker sons.

The rugby rivalry remains strong, largely thanks to the fact that the two countries meet each year in the Six Nations. The football version has lost something of its pizzazz in recent seasons but there are plenty of Welsh warriors who think that Gary Speed’s men can cause England some serious problems on Saturday.

Yes, the vast majority of these positive thinkers are Welsh. Robbie Savage highlights John Terry and Glen Johnson as England’s weak links and points excitedly at the Welsh midfield with the resurgent Aaron Ramsey and buoyant Gareth Bale.

It’s worth remembering that this time last year England had just beaten Egypt in a friendly and had their eyes on South Africa with the usual high expectations and a manager whose stock could not have been higher.

Twelve months on, they are still licking their World Cup wounds, the captaincy issue is far from resolved and every decision of a once revered manager is now prodded, poked and put under the microscope.

A defeat against the ancient enemy - a sweet win for the Welsh - could perhaps be a humiliation too far for Fabio Capello. It would also force me to have another scrap with my brother.

We are both trying to indoctrinate our children into this rivalry. His eldest son has been wearing the red of Wales since a very early age while attempts to win over my kids seem to be falling on deaf ears.

“We like the ones in white” I told my three-year-old daughter on Saturday as we watched England get pummelled in Dublin. “But I like those green ones daddy... they look like funny trees”.

She got excited when the funny trees were cheering at the end. She also pointed out that white was a “silly colour” because it got so dirty!

I won’t be watching Saturday’s match with the family; I’ll be in the Millennium Stadium after presenting Football Focus from Cardiff.

You’ll hear from Speed, Capello, Terry, Jermaine Defoe and Bale to name a few. We are also taking an Englishman, an Irishman and a Welshman with us - Lee Dixon, Mark Lawrenson and Robbie Savage will be in attendance.

If you’ve got any queries about the show, a question you’d like to put to the guys or any comments about this blog then stick them down below. Alternatively you can follow me during the build-up to the show at


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  • Comment number 1.

    As much as I'd like to see a Wales victory, inevitably they'll play badly and lose (again). I was at the last game versus Bulgaria and there was a crowd of about 14,000. The sell out at the Millennium shows how much of a difference a game against England is.

    Alun Wyn-Jones

  • Comment number 2.

    A disappointingly food-free article was lit up by you disclosing your middle name. Meirion. Brilliant! Has me thinking of one of my favourite childhood CBBC programmes...!

    As for Saturday, England to edge a win in an unconvincing performance; probably 1-0 but more likely 2-1.

    Little Ron

  • Comment number 3.

    Nice blog and can you pass on my best wishes to your brother - I hope his team wins on Saturday, though I can't see it.

    With the regards to the Welsh, all the focus will be on 'best player in the universe ever' Gareth Bale, but Joe Ledley has had an impressive first season at Celtic and it will interesting to see how he performs if selected.

  • Comment number 4.

    A disappointing lack of food references this week Daniel, although I assume normal service shall resume next week.

    Very intrigued by the man with the A4 face, however - is he to become a regular & reappearing character? What would he be called?

    Mary Whitehouse.

  • Comment number 5.

    "When you go on a break with three small children, being away from home is not too dissimilar to normal life. In fact the only difference seems to be the number of times you go swimming in the space of five days!"

    During term time?? Trying to save the lavish expense that everyone else faces over Easter?? Dan, you shouldn't be admitting this on a public forum such as your footie focus blog, tis a criminal offence didn't you know!!

  • Comment number 6.

    Is anyone else still feeling a loss of enthusiasm about the England football team ? With the shambles (in my opinion), that Capello has made of things since picking the world cup squad with the aid of David Blunkett's dog, to the apalling way he has treated Rio. And that from a Liverpool fan !

    I shall be watching us lose at cricket instead until Capello goes.

    Colonel Gaddafi (from a bunker)

  • Comment number 7.

    I shall be watching the game with my brother, who now resides in Wales, and his Welsh girlfriend! They have a good deal; she supports England at football, he supports Wales at Rugby and all remains relatively harmonious. Obviously I'll be wanting England to win but I'm finding it increasingly difficult to get enthusiastic about a Capello team - if we could lose, see him get fired and still be guaranteed qualification then sadly I think that would be my preference... still feeling churlish about the World Cup I think!

    Brutus the Barber Beefcake

  • Comment number 8.

    I expect I shall probably end up watching the football on the telly, in the hope that England might actually put on a good performance rather than the oft-underwhelming one that tends to be the norm. It's a shame to see so many of the "old-guard" still in place after the debacle in South Africa. I can imagine Gareth Bale causing some problems for England if he can carry his club form through on Saturday, albeit he may still be a bit ring-rusty after his injury time out.

    Good to have the blog back, it led to a bit of a gap in lunch-time activities for the latter part of last week.

    I hope Andy Connor will come up with one his usual esoteric posts, maybe with a Robin Hood theme?

    Sir Guy of Gisburne

  • Comment number 9.

    PS with a middle name like that, I'm surprised you didn't mention The Prisoner as well...

    I'm not just a blog post number, I'm a free man!

    Number Nine

  • Comment number 10.

    Well that's just gravy.

    That's rosewater

    And that's windolene

    Right while I'm waiting for the results of my liquid identification test I will say a few words

    Jumper, marsupial and haberdashery

    Hey dan I understand you middle name plight I also have a 'unisex' middle name too.

    So what was everyone preference? Acrylic or aluminium top?


    I prefer lager.

    Oh and on that note here comes the results.

    Oh the tension.

    I passed! Yeah, only one wrong, turns out it wasn't gravy. It was primula cheese spread heated. Oh those sneaky examiners.

    Hugs and sniffs

    Andy jessica connor

  • Comment number 11.

    Echo # 3... Ledley has performed well this season and has been getting in about the goals the last few weeks.. will be keeping an eye out for him too..

    The pressure been put on Bale is immense.. may help the others get some peace before the game though..

    Fancy a score draw.. it wouldnt be England if a week when something else has overshadowed the actual game to just go out and get on with it..

    The Man from Del Monte.

  • Comment number 12.

    Please don't worry about your middle names mate. My mum is english and my dad is welsh and my middle names are Dafydd Owain Glyndwr. Merioin is not that bad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 13.

    I nearly choked on my dairylea lunchables when I read this! Mark Lawrenson is about as Irish as apple pie - with "I'm not Irish" written on top.

  • Comment number 14.

    I definitely agree that some of the passion has gone out of the home counties football games, at least from the English side.

    Not sure that this isn't any other than reflective of the general apathy toward anything other than major championships now by a large amount of England fans. An England game used to be a big deal no matter who the opposition, now even non-critical qualifiers don't seem to generate a large amount of excitement (unless its retrospectively in calling for the defenestration of the manager if it's a poor result).

    This could be caused by fans now used to the showbiz spectacle of the Premier/Champions League, maybe England friendlies have been undermined by a few managers making them meaningless as games (the days of the 10 substitutions at half time), maybe it's been the poor performances at major championships. Or all of the above.

    I'll be cheering England on (even if I will be secretly praying Bale is the best player on the pitch and doesn't get injured as a Spurs fan).

    Will Scarlett

  • Comment number 15.

    @13 bonjela

    Spot on! He was actually just a bit too rubbish to make the England team. Note to Dan: playing for Ireland does not make you Irish!

    Personally I'm looking forward to watching another dismal display from two continuously disappointing teams and taking the time over 2 good cuppas to peruse the entire day of sports and mock Englands' success in all sports an Englishman. Goodness me, I have pride dripping out of my ears.

    @10 - love it!

    The Grinch

  • Comment number 16.

    Hold on a jiffy there Dan, are saying you're a fellow Spurs fan? or maybe you just have a soft spot for them? Without breaching your impartiality agreements and what not.

    On England, I agree with others that the interest in Home nation football and international football is probably at an all time low. It's a bit depressing watching England now and my biggest concern is not England losing but hoping that no Spurs players get injured. I'm praying that Bale and Lennon don't run into each other and break each others legs.

  • Comment number 17.

    #10 - inspired as usual!

    You have a remarkable imagination - it's almost like having our own Spike Milligan.

    "See, I told you I was ill!"

    I don't really know of any great excitement towards the match on Saturday. It just feels like an element of overkill with all the football, and the fact that England continually flatter to deceive. It is so blindingly obvious that this country needs to deal at a root and branch level with player development otherwise we will continue to be in the vapour trail of the likes of Spain. When the country's supposed premier football playing side is hammered so comprensively by the Spanish Champions in the away leg with barely touching the ball, then you know something is wrong.

    I expect Saturday's game will probably be fairly muscular and energetic, and there is the promise of seeing skilful play from some of the players, but the whole ethos of the game in the UK is counterproductive towards producing club and national teams capable of challenging and beating the likes of Spain on a regular basis. It should be possible to combine the best of this country with the skills/technical element that are prevalent in other countries.

    Much the Miller's son

  • Comment number 18.

    The home nations games have lost something, but a full house in Wales should add to an already tense atmosphere. As for England, Capello is a joke and is really out of his depth trying to manage a bunch of over rated and over payed so called World Class players. How can Terry be picked as Captain? again and as For Ashley Cole he should be locked up or used as Target Practice. The game itself will be a poor watch with both sides struggling to break the shackles of failure, but expect England to edge it from a set-piece

  • Comment number 19.

    I don't like tomatoes because they're red
    I don't drink beer because it's red
    I don't fire engines because they're red

    They all remind me of Wales


  • Comment number 20.

    Anything less than a win and Fabio has to go, along with many of the older players who are still incapable of recreating their club form for their country. I think that England are there for the taking and with added pressure on the captain and on the squad to put in a convincing performance I wouldn't rite off Wales. I'm hoping for a convincing win, something like 3-0 or 3-1 but I'm prepared for a more likely 1-0 or 1-1.

  • Comment number 21.

    My surname is a Welsh one, my supported Club's best player is a Welsh one, my holiday this year is a Welsh one, and I'm English. Far better players than Terry in the Premiership, far better options for the captaincy in the current squad...may the best team win...I think it will be Bales...err sorry Wales.

  • Comment number 22.

    Lawrenson was only Irish because he wasn't good enough to get in the England team and was once photographed drinking Guinness.

    I have to say I won't be watching my beloved England, the world cup was the final straw - I'm afraid it is divorce. Time and time again we are either shown how technicially deficient we are (spain, Germany, France), not as passionate about winning as the opposition (Northern Ireland, USA) or simply think we have a god given right to beat teams and don't work or play hard enough to win (Algeria, Slovakia).

    The last time I felt thoroughly proud to be supporting England was 5-1 in Munich. Since then the team have never ever replicated that same drive, passion and intensity. I fully expect a boring draw on Saturday and for once I won't be watching. Not unitl I hear reports of the intensity and passion coming back.

    And is anybody else driven to distraction by that damn brass band playing the great escape theme tune!?!?! It drives me nuts - learn another song or at least ones the fans will sing along with!!

  • Comment number 23.

    So Mr Walker spends half a blog describing how two nationalities split his family (although thankfully no detail about why he's wearing Speedos on a March holiday in Kent) and everyone starts picking on him for his description of Mark Lawrenson as Irish!

    It's not where you were born that counts. Your family blood runs deep. My son was born in America but he is half English and has access to a UK passport. Are you telling me even if he plays for England he's not English? A load of tosh if you ask me. He's just as English as any other nationality.

  • Comment number 24.

    So, after all the globe trotting and the Cantona-ing you have some family time and a family oriented blog! Well deserved I'm sure, though I did miss your usual blurb.

    Note the comments of corpusboy (#2) - If you are going to give us a blog about family, then you MUST get the food in somewhere, it is an integral part of family life. You have regaled us with culinary delights from your mom's kitchen, so now, are we to assume that your better half does not merit "a mention in the cookery dispatches"? You never appear to be too under-nourished. While I am twittering on about food, St Patrick's Day ios massive over here in New England. Some friends told us that it was traditional to eat corned beef and cabbage, so we gave it a try (not the old tinned stuff from Argentina mind you). It was brilliant. Recommend it heartily.

    As far as inter-fraternal rivalry goes, well I know all about that. Growing up in Cardiff I had two younger brothers who supported Liverpool, while after a trip to North London I cheered for the Gunners.
    But moving back to your comments, your mom is indubitably the blessed one, as for your dad- he could have redeemed himself if he had supported the correct north London club, but will take a life time of service to atone for such a heinous error.
    I so want Wales to win on Saturday. Living over here in CT I run into loads of English and Irish guys but know of only one Welsh person. It would be a marvelous event if Wales did win. Make up for the rugby of earlier this year. I hope you have a pleasant time in Cardiff, even if your brothers team wins. It is a decent old city, I was back there at the beginning of Feb for the first time in 4 years.

    Incidently, just how Welsh is Robbie Savage? Is he fully fledged son of a Welsh mom and dad, or is it one of these grandparent shoe horned in deals. I am just letting my opinions get in the way here.

  • Comment number 25.


    Lawrenson not good enough for England. Do me a favour, mate. Which players in the England central defence were better than him?

    How old are your children if you can go off on a family holiday in term time?

  • Comment number 26.

    Surely Lawro was good enough to play for England in the mid-eighties! Granted he was no Terry Butcher but surely he was better than Terry Fenwick or Alvin Martin!!

  • Comment number 27.

    Meirion isn't unisex in the slightest, it's just a bloke's name. It doesn't even sound like Marian.

  • Comment number 28.

    Lawrenson was born in Lancashire. He played for the Republic of Ireland because his grandfather Thomas Crotty was born in Waterford.

    I have a similar dual nationality issue. It seems the Rugby Union club London Welsh was made for just such issues. I'm a Londoner, but always have a soft spot for the Dragons through maternal Welshness. (so much so that a slight preference for Ireland to win the rugby last weekend). And again, this weekend, I would prefer Wales to gain a slender Bale-inspired win. However, put England up against a non-British team though and you'll hear me bellowing Jerusalem with 3 lions on chest!

  • Comment number 29.

    Nicely written DMW!

    As entertaining as usual.

    The home nation matches were often fairy gruelling games from what I can recall.
    I believe Kevin Keegan had promised to re-instate them when he was England manager.

    It is a shame in many ways yet UK based home players have enough games as it is.
    Hope that the powers that-be will all sort out a true & decent Olympic football side to fully represent team GB!

    Lets also hope for a good game at the Millennium Stadium Saturday!

    Incidentally, an older debate, I believe the English FA Cup final should of course be played at Wembley but the semi’s not (although no doubt they want the revenue) and that the Millennium Stadium should have been re-selected. This helps to give some more “magic” to the final!

    [Marion Robert Morrison]

  • Comment number 30.

    ...although one thing does grate me about English teams in both Rugby and Football. Most (but not all) English players are horribly arogant, almost outdoing the French!

  • Comment number 31.

    My 7 year old son is half English (I blame his mother) and he has 2 older half brothers, one who supports Wales and the other England, as I no longer live with his mum (its all very amicable, for anyone that wondered), we have a battle of where his allegiance lies, I have so far, won the war in terms of the country but if Rooney gets a hat-trick on Saturday, I may have to start the process all over again, I shall blame a certain, very popular video game, should the need for that happen!

    However, getting him to choose Cardiff City over his Mum's team, Arsenal, is proving a distraction, still, due to geography and the fact he was born in Wales, at least he has been to see Cardiff play, although, that's not always a good thing!

    As for Saturday, I think England will scrape a 1 Nil, atmosphere is never as electric for a football match in the same way as a rugby match in Cardiff (not at the Millennium Stadium anyway), so not sure the 12th man factor will come into play.

    Hopefully it will be a great atmosphere though and Cardiff should be buzzing on the day.


    I happened to be in a pub in Chelmsford watching the Spurs Milan game the other week and there were chants for Bale to the tune of Bread of Heaven, made me feel right at home.

  • Comment number 32.

    I should have added that I do cheer on the English football team when they're not playing Wales, even went out to Stuttgart in WC 06, had a great time. Probably the only time I will get to cheer a team close to home on at a major finals.

    I do have an English girlfriend, so i think that qualifies me. ;-)

  • Comment number 33.

    Aye up everyone.

    Danke schon for the comments thus far. I shall return later with some more robust comments... I've got to get to Crowborough and don't really know where it is!

    Just to say...

    1) My dad was the Spurs fan - I'm a Crawley boy although I don't mind Spurs due to a process of parental osmosis.

    2) I once met a girl called Meirion - therefore unisex

    3) Lawro was born in England but he played for the Republic!

    4) Can't think of a 4th point - turns out I only have 3

    See you soon. Keep them coming.

    Andy Townsend

  • Comment number 34.

    Wales vs England...

    Once again, the England team have another chance at least to dispel a little of the anger and frustration shared by the many millions of deserving, yet constantly frustrated and let down England fans.

    This game, however, will if anything, prove that Wales are a team still growing, both as a footballing nation and growing under the leadership of Gary Speed. Bale will be the dangerman and given that he has tore some of Europe's best right backs..Maicon included..apart recently Glen Johnson should be quaking in his overpaid and overated gangster 'wanna a be' football boots!

    As a proud Englishman, I really hope that we thump Wales and go on to dominate the group, put to bed any concerns of the captaincy, finally squash the World Cup hangover and win the European Championship but for that to happen the FA need to 'man up' and get rid of Capello and the underperforming English players that have brought shame on our once great nation.

    Bobby Moore would be ashamed at this farce that has erupted recently regarding the England Captaincy, Terry Butcher would have ripped his blood soaked bandage off and Alan Shearer cried liked his mate Gazza....what is going on and what is Capello doing?

    Although I cannot provide the answers and with limited time given that my boss is due back from his cigarette break any moment, I hope, nay implore the England team to fight for there places and prove why they are the so called 'golden generation'. I urge Capello to back his own words and pick players based on form. Otherwise, these players have no motivation, they getting into the England team on merit and the other nations are laughing, laughing at us and it's embarrassing.

    The current England team is not good enough and looking at the vast difference in quality between our own country and the likes of Spain, Germany, name but a few. Our only solution is to find a manager who is brave enough to dump the so called 'Golden Generation' and stick with youth for an entire qualifying campaign, lets see what the likes of Andy Carroll, Jack Willshire and Chris Smalling, can do. Let us see what the hype is all about surrounding Alex Chamberlain and please would somebody remind James Milner that he used to be good at football before he became greedy and joined the money for nothing club at Man City.

    I, like the majority of England fans just want the England players to fight to want to play for there country, it should be an honour and a privilege. Until we see some pride out there, the England players and England Manager will never be forgiven...out with the FA, out with Capello. Restore the pride.

    betterthancapello...maybe not but I'd certainly earn my money.

  • Comment number 35.

    Lawrenson is about as Irish as yorkshire's finest Mick McCarthy

    Tony Cascarino.

  • Comment number 36.

    I had never realised that Guy of Gisborne was actually a "Sir". Thoroughly deserved I hasten to add and a great wing man for the Sherif of Nottingham.

    Cardinal Richelieu

  • Comment number 37.

    I think England will scrape the win at the weekend, but Wales certainly have the ability and potential to cause some problems and even an upset. Home nations teams tend to raise their ability levels when playing against England, just look at what happened to England against Northern Ireland a few years back, so there is no writing the Welsh off.

    Will be interesting to see how England play, and who they start with. No doubt it will be the same faces as usual, despite the good performances from Young and Bent against Denmark. Not convinced Carroll should start, has been injured for a while and only just coming back. Another contentious decision for Capello to make this week. Pressure will be on if the result doens't go England's way, but hoping we can snatch a win, hopefully with a good performance.

    Wales have the potential to be a decent international side. They've got a lot of players who are relatively young and inexperienced and may develop with time, and in Bale and Ramsey have two very exciting players. Maybe the right result for them and promotion to the Premiership for Swansea, Cardiff or even both could kickstart football becoming as popular as it was under Mark Hughes again. Personally would love Cardiff to go up, having lived there for three years until last year, it's a lovely place and they've got a nice new stadium.

  • Comment number 38.

    So your middle name is Meirion...


  • Comment number 39.

    At least with the cricket it should be easier in your house (even if the "...and Wales" bit is usually silent when supporting England).

  • Comment number 40.

    @13 bonjela

    Yip - Mark Lawrenson is about as Irish as the following are English:
    Kevin Pieterson, Jonathan Trott, Eoin Morgan (!), Shontayne Hape, Dylan Hartley, John Barnes,....

  • Comment number 41.

    Good article, Dan.
    But, I must know, what is your brother's middle name?

  • Comment number 42.

    Nice one Dan, an entertaining read...I think will squeeze through but only just. Don't rate Capello, bring in 'Arry Redknapp and that's coming from a Gooner!!

    Friar Tuck

  • Comment number 43.

    You can't tell me because Lawro had an Irish Grandfather he felt Irish?!?! I've got a greek grandmother and speak the language but I wouldn't represent them at any sport if they asked as I'm English! He obviously didn't think he was good enough otherwise he would have chosen to play for England, just like Carragher realised he wasn't better than the two in front of him and so retired. Not going to say whether he was better then the centre halves who did play for England back then as I'm not quite old enough to realistically assess them play. Just expressing my opinion that if he felt he was good enough he would have represented England rather than the country his grandfather was born in. At least KP is honest enough to say that he felt he wasn't going to get the opportunity to represent his country so he moved to England where his mother was from in order to get a better chance of playing international cricket.

    Dan - just because he played for Eire doesn't make him Irish!! Cascorino had 100 caps didn't he and hasnt it since been proven that he didn't even quailfy to play for them?!?!

  • Comment number 44.

    Whoa, Meirion! Why don't you carry on, with a-what you're doing, and make he-e-eroes out of decent men...?

    Crowborough? East Sussex? I remember playing there a few times for my local U14s (Southborough Town). Crowborough Athletic were one of our bogey sides as I recall. Unlike North Tonbridge. They were like 6pts a season to us...


  • Comment number 45.

    Turning into a national identity blog..

    You can't tell me because Lawro had an Irish Grandfather he felt Irish?!?!


    You would have to ask Lawro, though lots of people just seem to make assumptions that cannot be sustained.

    National identity is typically based on a loose combination of birth, 'blood' and belonging. Nothing fixed about it really. People are what they feel themselves to be largely based on birth and blood. The problem tends to be whether others accept them as such.

  • Comment number 46.

    "Nice one Dan, an entertaining read...I think will squeeze through but only just. Don't rate Capello, bring in 'Arry Redknapp and that's coming from a Gooner!!"

    Harry supported Arsenal when he was a kid... so that'll do surely?

  • Comment number 47.

    Nice blog dan.

    I cant see anything other than an English victory...

    Mother Teresa

  • Comment number 48.

    33. At 16:00pm on 23rd Mar 2011, Dan Walker wrote:

    2) I once met a girl called Meirion - therefore unisex


    Then she's unfortunately been given a boys name - Not unisex.

    I remember watching us play England with Beckham scoring a cracker against us. It finished 2-0 and we were lucky to get the 0. I'm a little more hopeful this time...

    ...but just a little.

  • Comment number 49.

    Who told you Meirion was a unisex name? Is that just because it looks a bit like 'Marion'? I know a few guys called Meirion and there are a number in Welsh history ... but never a girl. Is that an American thing maybe? They took the Welsh boys names Meredith and Morgan and turned them exclusively into girls names for some reason.

    As for the weekend, I will be going to the match ... more out of hope than expectation of a home victory. I think the atmosphere in the Diff will be amazing though, know loads of people going down for this one, should be a big day!

  • Comment number 50.

    @43 - Seems a bit silly to suggest that no-one can feel a certain nationality because they aren't 100% it. How many people in Boston still cling to Irish heritage? Celtic heritages are considered very important by many and maybe that was what made him want to play for Ireland? Of course, it is also 100% conceivable to think that he imagined he couldn't make the English team...

    As for the game; I'm unusally excited about a Welsh football match. For me, since the Russian playoff, oh the heartbreak, the initial deterioration of quality in the team and then the optimism as the younger players were coming through, only to go nowhere has been enough to make me lose a bit of interest in Welsh football. I went to see us lose to Finland at home 2 years ago, it was horrific. But with this new batch of younger players and Cardiff and Swansea doing well it could be we could break back into the world's top 100. Imagine being back above teams like Kuwait and Angloa... Seriously though, I think when this new format for Euro qualification coming up, 24 teams into the tournament isn't it?, there could be hope for the next one.

    As for England, hmmm, what can be said that hasn't. Like an above poster I'll cheer for them in WCs and such, lived here a while so seems fair (please note this does not apply to Rugby!!) so I do find Capello irritating. He is awful isn't he? I mean I do honestly think a collection of knowledgable football fans could have done a better job at the world cup last year. So many promising youngsters and still he persists with the overrated, over the hill players who consistently underperform. If I had to highlight one player that I have no idea how he always get's in the England team; Gareth Barry, take a bow son. You've managed the biggest fluke ever in getting into a top 10(!) International team, as you are in fact absolutely rubbish. Though if he plays on saturday I'll be smiliing at every sideways, misplaced passes :)

    Good luck to both teams and here's to a good game

  • Comment number 51.

    I would be worried if i was an england fan, wales will not want to lose this game especially against a british team. England really cannot afford to give wales chances as Bellamy will take them, both him and bale have pace and are on a great run of form. Joe Ledley has looked very composed in the celtic midfield this season and has a great left foot and a great range of passing. If they can keep england out then wales can definately get the victory.

  • Comment number 52.

    So.... the geezer with the massive head at WHL ....... wasn't Steve Bruce was it?

  • Comment number 53.

    As someone who has lived in England my whole life and yet supported Wales and gone to every home match for the last 10 years. This weekend will be the first one I've missed and even though its against England and I pray we will win, I am just sick of sitting inside a 70,000 seater stadium with about 15,000 other fans. However if we do win, my hope is that it acts as a catalyst for us to improve and actually start threatening to qualify for a major tournament.

    P.S. Lawro hasn't been Irish for about 15 years!

    Mikel Madar

  • Comment number 54.

    Oh yeah also; what's with all the names at the end of posts? New to this blog...

  • Comment number 55.

    Great blog, interesting read. But why:

    'A defeat against the ancient enemy'?

    As nations, we're both (apart from the small-minded peons) big enough to avoid that sort of spiel...

  • Comment number 56.

    What`s all the fuss about Lawro being born in England, but playing for the Republic...and people going on about Butcher. Well, sports fans, Terry Butcher was actually born in Singapore. So that makes Lawro the best english born centre back of the 80s...ever, in the whole history of mankind, in the whole universe. Hope you get my point.

    And who can forget Pat van den Hauwe? That`s a real welsh name if ever I heard one.

    Alfredo di Stefano was an Argentinian, who played for Spain.

    Alan Brazil played for Scotland!

    Rio was the captain of England, even though he is named after a well known Brasillian city!

    Is there no end to this?!

    Lord Lucan

  • Comment number 57.

    Hello there comrades

    I love how this has developed into a debate about whether Lawro is English or Irish and whether my middle name can be used for a girl! Some good football discussion too.

    Anyway. Thanks for all the comments so far and I haven't got long so just a few quick ones...

    1) my wife's cooking is wonderful (I know you're checking darling) and much better than my mum's (no chance she'll ever read this).

    2) our kids are nearly 4, nearly 2 and 5 months so we are almost at the end of holidaying outside the school windows.

    Padds 31 #54 welcome on board big fella. The random signoffs go back a long way. We started off as random footballers but then it spread to whoever you can think of at the time i.e. Cardinal Richelieu, Mother Teresa, Friar Tuck & Rabies!

    Once you start it's quite addictive and if you can get a theme going even better!

    See you all soon.

    Sheriff of Nottingham

  • Comment number 58.

    The article reminded me of one of my own favourite programmes, The Likely Lads, where Terry finds out Bob's secret middle name, Robert Andrew SCARBOROUGH Ferris.
    Looking forward to the game but your own story illustrates how diluted our individual nationalities and football loyalties have become and how people cling to some distant and meandering heritage.
    And Roy Keane, nearing the end of a long career in England, accused Mick McCarthy of being 'not even (expletive deleted) Irish'.

  • Comment number 59.

    I have an uncle Meirion and he is indeed a bloke, though not a very nice one. I have never met a girl called Meirion.

    I propose a poll/experiment........we should all get drunk and then say "Marion" and see if it sounds like "Meirion." I reckon that for at least 70% of us a drunk "Marion" will sound like "Meirion."

    If Wales actually qualified for a tournament I think I would absolutely have to go. We haven't qualified since 1958 so if I didn't go, who is to say that I'd get another chance to see my country play at a major tournament? It could be a genuine once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Wales would grind to a halt for the duration of the tournament but nobody would notice as there'd be nobody at home.

  • Comment number 60.

    Dan, if you're little girl is nearly four you'll need to be having that conversation with her pretty soon. The one about the fight between good and evil, or Manchester United as they are sometimes referred to. She'll be picking her team soon and you're taking a big risk if you haven't had that conversation with her. As a back-up plan I'd suggest that you volunteer to re-locate to Salford Quays, then you'll be too close to Manchester for her to turn to the dark side and she'll end a Citeh fan.

    Ernie Wise

  • Comment number 61.

    I think the significance of this game is being somewhat overplayed, As a Swansea City fan, for me promotion to the Premier League is far more important than the game on Saturday, and I would think that most Swans fans would agree with this sentiment. I imagine the same feelings apply to Cardiff fans and almost universally to supporters of most English clubs.

    As for the game itself, there is no pressure on Wales at all.

  • Comment number 62.

    Dan, are you including my tweet to you on Saturday asking where your blog was for the week in your 'inundation' of emails? If not, then I've doubled the total of people asking from one to two! I don't know know if I should be most embarrassed: me for noticing the lack of blog, or you for the lack of people noticing? What the heck, at least it's back now!

    I'm English and obviously will be supporting my country on Saturday but I've got a sneaky feeling (I hope I'm wrong) that Wales are going to nick a 2-1. I dread to think of the aftermath...

    Terry Wogan.

  • Comment number 63.

    huge game, Wales probably with a better squad than they have had in the last 20 years. I expect a 2-1 England win, late goal for England though (70mins plus)

    Josef Fritzl

  • Comment number 64.

    The chat about Lawro is a little superfluous now being that he is some way past his retirement age!

    I hope as more of the younger generation for England come through, that we can see a bit less of the ego's and off the pitch activities, and see a greater keeness from everybody to put in everything for their country. Saturday could be a good test of the Welsh youth versus the English youth.

    Rodney Charlton Trotter

  • Comment number 65.

    Hi Dan, Enjoyed the blog. Interestig family you've come from. Did Lawro play fo Ireland because he wasn't good enough to get in the England team? or what was behind his decision?

    Looking foward to see Wales do one over on England. Always like to see the underdogs win. Bit like last weekend by the Geen trees.

    Enjoy the match. If you get close enough to Robbie Savage, give him a good hding (oj)


  • Comment number 66.

    Lawro may have played football for Ireland, but I'm sure his moustache played Dougal in the Magic Roundabout.

    Norman Stanley Fletcher

  • Comment number 67.

    All this talk of nationalities - although Graeme Le Saux and Matt Le Tissier both played for England, being from the Channel Islands, they were also qualified to play for Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and...France before they even had to worry about bloodline regulations.

    brinolin, "Moggie" is a poor example to use as Ireland in cricket are a combination of the Republic and Northern so, despite being born in the Republic, because he's coming from a non-test playing country that includes part of the Union, he was eligible to play for England as soon as he declared his intention to play test cricket as, previously, were Scots Gavin Hamilton and Dougie Brown.

    As for the game, I hope that the ref understands the nature of a) the rivalry and b) how British football is played. The ideal would be from Scotland, Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland. We know it won't be and will probably be someone who won't have that understanding, so I can see there being a sending-off.

    Sir Humphrey Appleby

  • Comment number 68.

    MEIRION is not a unisex name!!!! When you pronounce it properly it doesn’t even sound like Marion, that’s how it sounds if your English and can’t say it properly (May-r-ion). Which is a shame Dan, seeing how it’s your own name. You should take the effort to know your own name mate 

    As for the game on Saturday.
    Im Welsh...'Geraint Wyn Jones' as welsh as it comes that.... from proper Wales too, North West Wales, Sir Fon!
    I have always supported both England and Wales in football, to be honest I regard myself British first then Welsh. So I look forward to seeing any British team doing well. Saturday I will be rooting for Wales, although i do realise that England are a better team and should really win. However, that is just on paper, England will need to win and nothing else, whereas Wales just need to play well. With this in mind the pressure might get to England and Wales might, just might snip it.
    What a win that would be???? My hard line Welsh brother who can hardly speak English would be very happy….. oh yeah his name is Meirion Wyn Jones!

  • Comment number 69.

    Some info taken off the internet which may or may not be wholly accurate or inaccurate, but may or may not be of interest nonetheless!

    Name derived from the old county of Merionethshire.

    Meirion \me(i)-rion\ as a boy's name is a variant of Mario (Latin), and the meaning of Meirion is "manly".

    The baby name Meirion sounds like Marion and Miron. Other similar baby names are Keiron, Meiri and Merton.

    Popularity of Meirion

    Meirion is not a popular first name for men and an equally uncommon surname or last name for all people. (1990 U.S. Census)


    Gender: Masculine

    Usage: Welsh

    Welsh form of MARIANUS

    General consensus seems to be masculine rather than feminine, although one or two websites say its feminine. Make of that what you will.

    Jim Hacker

  • Comment number 70.

    no. 69

    The old county/kingdom of Meirionnydd was actually named after Meirion, one of the sons of Cunedda (the father of Wales), rather than the name deriving from the place. Cerdigion was named after Ceredig, Morgannwg after Morgan.

    Although definitely a chaps name. Or a beefy lass.

  • Comment number 71.

    Hi Dan just letting you know about another famous (at least on one side of the Atlantic) resident of Crawley that you probably aren't aware of.

  • Comment number 72.

    I was born in England of very Irish parents, but an in-built default mechanism exponentially resisted the incredulity that my brother and I could pass over the Boys in Green for the old enemy. This increased during my teenage years, most of which were spent in Ireland, during the Lawro years! That was the era of Chris Hughton, Tony Grealish, Tony Galvin. In some instances it may have been personal preference, but the rules then were a little bit different, eg. I think you can swap and change your country a little these days, but England very rarely select players from unfashionable clubs (Matt Jarvis is a welcome exception), whereas, especially in the 70s and 80s, Ireland had to. Lawro was already a fixture in the Republic's team a long time before he joined Liverpool. Don't know if it's laziness, but I thought one of the qualities we expect of an English manager is to be able to spot good players, including lower down the leagues! Just because Lawro was playing for Preston or Brighton, doesn't mean he was any less a player than when at Liverpool.

    Weetabix Walt Disney Robin Hood character cutouts.

  • Comment number 73.

    Here's hoping Andrew Crofts, Andy King, Steve Morison and Hal Robson-Kanu can lead Eng... sorry Wales to glory on Saturday.

    Lt. Hubert Gruber

  • Comment number 74.

    As a proud Brit, I find it sad, not to say disturbing, that the only way so many Irish, Scots and Welsh find any passion is when presented with an opportunity to trash the English. I was optimistic when I read your title, and continued so reading about your friendly tussles with your brother, but so much I hear and read suggests it 'business as usual'.
    Wales are putting together a good squad and offer promise of a return to greatness, after many years in the doldrums (let's remember that, back in the 50s and even the 60s they were among the giants of the game, as were Scotland - Ireland's golden years have come much more recently imo), and with England underperforming woefully and seemingly ridden with problems off the pitch too, they probably have their best chance in a long while. However, what I'd really like to see is both sides finding the passion to take points off the other teams in the group so that they both have a chance to qualify. But that's a Brit talking - the English and Welsh may think differently.

  • Comment number 75.

    It's seems I brought some unwaranted baggage to this blog, as I'm quite fed up with things I've been hearing and reading elsewhere, but I've been quite cheered up by reading the posts here, where good old British humour has been well to the fore!
    I agree with those who reckon Lawrenson would've had a fair shot at making the English team, if he'd wanted it. Surprised noone's mentioned that Mike England played for Wales :o)
    However, without wanting to bang on about the same old issue, just imagine if we'd had a British Isles team right from the start!!! With the likes of Charles, Best, Johnston and Greaves all playing for the same international team, how many World Cup titles would we have won by now???

  • Comment number 76.

    Hi Dan. Intresting reading, as always, although the mention of Speedo's will forever send a cold shiver down my spine...
    Anyway, being a born and bred Englishman I should be hoping for an England win, but having lived in Wales for several years I think a draw is probably the most likely outcome. But, then again, I've been supporting Canada at the Cricket World Cup (a team that doesn't contain a vast number of players born in Canada) so what do I know!

    Marc Bircham

  • Comment number 77.

    I've got a couple of good mates who are a bit Welsh but I I haven't seen them for about a decade, so I doubt we'll be having any arguments about the result.

    I think I once met a port called Meirion.

  • Comment number 78.

    I still remember being at The Racecourse in Wrexham (May 1980) when we (Wales) beat England 4-1. Great atmosphere with some 30 off thousand supporters. Mind you, I missed 3 of the goals as couldn;t see through the crowds! Some great fighting as well- north Wales against south Wales with the English fans standing back and wondering what was happening! Ah the good of days of standing in the stands. I now live in Australia but still a proud Welshman- my only blot is my father was sadly born on the wrong side of the border so in theory I could play for the old enemy. Go Wales!

  • Comment number 79.

    #76 the real Marc Bircham?
    English born, Canadian midfielder born in '78...

    I know people like Lee Westwood mooch around the golfing blogs as well, so it's interesting to see some professional sportspeople on here too.

    Michael Finnegan

  • Comment number 80.

    You met a girl called Meirion! lol. that's like me saying 'i met a girl called Mark!'

  • Comment number 81.

    If you do a google search on women called Meirion then you will find they do exist... so Dan isn't completely off his rocker and destined for a strait jacket when he says it's a name for boys and girls. Don't forget also that John Wayne's name was actually Marion.

    Boutros Boutros Ghali

  • Comment number 82.

    Is the fact that so many of the comments on here are from excited Welsh due to the perceived English arrogance that we should win easily (as normal !), or to the lingering feeling of more impending disappointment from the England team?

    Anyone else feeling suspicious of the 'hamstring injury' to Gareth Bale? I expect him to line up on Saturday.

    Dan, I know you're not the only one on here with an unusual middle name. Mine is Wilfred, after my Grandfather. Hated it as a kid, now very proud !

    Fabio Capello

  • Comment number 83.

    To be honest, the people ive been speaking to (about 50 ranging from Scots to Greeks) and i would say that 90% of them supported the Welsh and actually had support for the current Welsh side to well as its been a long time coming.

    The Wales squad are the next Brazil don't get me wrong, but to be honest, there are a few decent young prospects coming through the ranks and i could see an improvement in results (but not overly confident on Gary Speed)

    Again, i will be routing for the Reds both in mind and physcially at the game!!

    My Mate Dave.

  • Comment number 84.

    *are not the next Brazil i was ment to suggest, would be classic if they were though....

    Steve's Mate Dave

  • Comment number 85.

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

  • Comment number 86.

    As an English Leicester fan the score Im hoping for is Wales 1-3 England with Andy King scoring for the Welsh.

  • Comment number 87.

    Love the sibling rivalry Dan, like me and my brother. He's a Liverpool fan, I'm Man Utd. Brilliant opportunities to give each other stick at least twice a year. Needless to say I didn't have fun a couple of weeks ago! Or the 4-1 at Old Trafford. Or the 2-1 that same season.

    I think the David "Flapper" James years were the best for me, although there is a 7 year gap and a 17 year old usually has no problem handling themselves against a 10 year old so I found myself on the receiving end of dead legs and noogies countless times!

    Have to say I'm a bit concerned about the Speedo. I always thought there was an unwritten man law against them for anyone over the age of 9? Unless you're *ahem* 'blessed' and wanted to show off?

    Anyway, I agree with most people on here that England will probably be rather disappointing on Saturday, but it'll be easier now that Bale won't be playing. I'll go for 2-0, Rooney & Defoe. Terry to fling himself at anything and everything trying to gain fan's respect again and prove why he's captain, which in my opinion he shouldn't be, not necessarily because of him as a person, mainly because of the way Capello went about it.

    Steve's mate Dave's mate SteveDave

  • Comment number 88.

    You can probably Google search and find women namded Derek

  • Comment number 89.

    Good blog as usual Dan. Only really look forward to reading yours and Jake's. All Iain Carter seems to do is bash words.

    England will put in a dire performance as usual tho should be enough to edge a Welsh squad who look to be without Bale.

    1 - 0 England.

  • Comment number 90.

    #66 Lawro may have played football for Ireland, but I'm sure his moustache played Dougal in the Magic Roundabout.


    That's good, very good.

  • Comment number 91.

    @ 81

    I'm not saying that there aren't any women called Meirion, but in Welsh it sounds like a guys name. I live in West Wales, and the only Meirions ive met have been men.

    lol @ 88

  • Comment number 92.

    88. At 11:08am on 24th Mar 2011, TwoWardrobes wrote:
    You can probably Google search and find women namded Derek

    For example, Bo Derek.

  • Comment number 93.

    Cheers for the welcome and explanation about the name thing. Bad news on Bale being out, as much for the spectacle of the game as Welsh chances. And in the theme of the weekend and nostalgia of the man who got me into football (explaining a Southern Welshman's unlikely association with Everton)...

    Neville Southall

  • Comment number 94.

    You take ours in the cricket ie. Joyce, Morgan, we'll take yours for the football, simples

    Day V Lately

  • Comment number 95.

    An awful lot of chaps on here are admitting to knowing and meeting men in the Welsh Valley's called Meirion. May I propose we shift the conversation back to football.....

  • Comment number 96.

    People seem to think that all it takes to be an international manager is passion.

    Gary speed is responsible for Sheff Utd being in such a shambles this season.

    England to hammer Wales 4-0.

    Gareth Bale won't even play.

  • Comment number 97.

    Super Ted

  • Comment number 98.

    Dan – good to read an article with a sense of proportion that has not brought forth the open hostilities that sometimes gush out in a few comments where the home countries are concerned.

    I am English but would always like to see Wales, Scotland, or N Ireland make it to the competitions. There is nothing wrong with a friendly rivalry but whilst I hope for an England win, since we need the points on this occasion to continue further, I would not enjoy this at the expense of Wales, who equally I would like to see progress.

    Perhaps the circumstances you outline with your brother have given you both the ideal means to understand at first hand the true meaning of support. That hopes and aspirations can be dented but this does not have to create an atmosphere of personal dislike or perhaps cultural animosity. More so to understand the spirit in which all sport should be played out without a legacy of constant bad feeling.

    Hope you enjoyed your sojourn in Kent – some nice country pubs that you probably didn’t get to !

  • Comment number 99.

    Now Dan look what you started?

    Why are so many people getting their knickers in a twist about where Lawro was born?

    Maybe its because the aforementioned Lawro, McCarthy, Houghton, Aldo etc frustrated the so called golden generation of English football (yes there has been a few golden generations) at every major tournament they played during that era.

    I am one of a large number who are proud of our international brigade and lets face it the English Fa at the time didn't really do much to keep them.

    Jack Charlton's fishing rod

  • Comment number 100.

    Great blog Dan - love the middle name in particular. You kept that quiet when we met! (link to interview below for anyone interested)

    Wales v England games are funny ones for me. I was born in England to Welsh parents. My dad was always a big rugby fan so since I was a kid it's always been Wales all the way in the 5/6 Nations, but football's never been so straight forward.

    Having got into football through playing at school and growing up in England, I supported my local team (Wolves) and England, although I also always wanted Wales to win too and cheered them on when I got to see them play (albeit mostly without reward).

    Paul Bodin's penalty onto the Arms Park bar hurt when Wales missed out on the '94 World Cup, but not as much as the England's shootout heartaches in '90, '96 and '98.

    But when England beat Wales 2-0 at Old Trafford in their World Cup qualifier in 2004, a strange feeling occurred. I admired David Beckham's screamer (or should that be thronker?) but I couldn't bring myself to cheer it. I watched the game a bit devoid of feelings.

    Now, this time round, I actually think I'd rather see Wales win. I'm not sure if that's just me becoming more Welsh as I get older, or that I just prefer supporting the underdog.

    It might be that I find it hard to cheer for some of the characters in the current England team, or that I just care less about international football these days. I'd love to see both England (who should be there) and Wales (who, barring a miracle, won't be there) at Euro 2012, but not as much as I'd like Wolves to be in the Premier League that season.

    But I'm glad that at 2pm tomorrow I can concentrate on a win for the mighty Barn Elms in the Wimbledon & District League Division 1 and forget about the big game in Cardiff.

    I guess what I really need is a UK football team and I can cheer them all on. So roll on London 2012... oh, hang on a minute...


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