Careers advice for aspiring Motsons
A busy week this week. There has been the appearance of QPR skipper Joey Barton on Football Focus on Saturday to prepare for and I returned to my old university in Sheffield to speak to a gaggle of journalism students.
There were about 150 budding hacks and hackesses in the room and many questions were fired my way. By far the most regular query I receive is about getting into the world of broadcasting and how to wedge one's foot in the journalistic doorway.
If you've been reading this blog since the start, you may remember a few years back I spoke about the advice I was given by Des Lynam when I sent him a letter at the age of 11.
For those of you who don't know Des - shame on you - he was a moustachioed Gary Lineker. For those of you don't know what a letter is - shame on you - it's what your nan sends you when you get your A Level results.
Mr Lynam's advice still rings true: get your school qualifications, do a degree in something like history or English and then do a post-graduate course in the area of journalism you are interested in. That's not the only way in but it can put you in the best possible position.
In addition to that insight, whether you see yourself as the next Jeremy Paxman, Henry Winter or Clare Balding, one of the key elements is practice. If you are not prepared to work hard then you might as well not bother.
When I first started, I was working 17 hours a day - breakfast bulletins followed by a news reporting shift then a football commentary at a ground somewhere in the known universe. I had two degrees but I was earning less than £9,000 a year.
The hard work starts long before you get the dream job, though. If you want to be a commentator, commentate.
As a child, I would commentate on everything: myself playing sport, my family and friends playing sport, even old ladies rifling through the frozen-food section of a supermarket. "She makes her way towards the broccoli and AT LAST MINUTE SHE GRABS THE CAULIFLOWER... LOOK AT HER FACE... JUST LOOK AT HER FACE!" If you can make that sound interesting, then live sport is relatively easy.
Talking of commentary, it was nice to relive some of John Motson's magic moments this week. Forty years in the commentary box is a remarkable achievement and to still have the same passion for the game is admirable.
I was saddened to hear that the same sheepskin has not lasted him his entire career, though. Apparently, his latest effort is going to make a debut soon.
Growing up, I would pretend to be Motty or Barry Davies and commentate on myself being Glenn Hoddle in the back garden. Most of my mesmeric runs would end in top-corner finishes followed by the lines from that famous hockey commentary from Mr Davies: "Where were the Germans? And frankly, who cares?"
We have a cracking Football Focus lined up for you this week. We have two former international captains in Martin Keown and Gary McAllister with us, alongside Mr Barton. There will be plenty to talk about with England playing on Friday night against Montenegro.
If you've got any comments, queries or questions for me or our Focus guests, then let me know.
You can also follow all the build-up to the show at twitter.com/danwalkerbbc