When fantasy turns into a nightmare
I don't think I am exaggerating when I say that Saturday's Football Focus was saved by the perfect bacon sandwich. It arrived at precisely 0945 BST on the morning of the show.
Up until that point, the day hadn't been a winner. I stayed up far too late the night before watching the second round of golf's USPGA and my two little daughters decided to rise like salmons at 0602 BST the following morning. When I finally left for work at 0730 BST in the rain, I dropped my TV shirt in a vast puddle next to the car.
After arriving at TV Centre, I did a little live interview with presenter Jo Good on 6 Music and then headed to the BBC News studio for an appearance on BBC One's Breakfast programme. Sadly, we were understandably bumped because Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore turned up to talk about the start of the 2010/11 season.
I then went to watch all the various pieces that were going to be screened on Football Focus with the editor and director before heading to the production office, where we "do our stuff" before the show. The bacon sandwich came into the room via the fair hand of production co-ordinator Rachel Paterson.
Not only is Rachel key to the programme timings and owner of one the great nicknames of our time - Pato Banton - she also understands the complexity of the perfect bacon "sanger". I'm not picky about how the sandwich turns up but if it comes exactly how I'd make it myself, it is hard not to avoid a little fist pump.
And that's just what happened on Saturday.
Anyway, here are my four steps to making the perfect bacon sandwich:
1. Baguette or, at a push, two slices of white bread (DISCLAIMER if the baguette is crunchy or floury, send it back immediately);
3. Thick but not too crispy bacon;
4. Just enough ketchup so that when you squeeze the bread it pops out the sides but doesn't drip.
Follow those easy pointers and you are on your way to a culinary masterpiece.
With my spirits lifted, I was back on track for the first Football Focus show to be filmed in the studio this season. There was a miniature panic halfway through the programme when Alan Shearer was nowhere to be seen and we were about to present him with a 40th birthday cake. The crisis was averted when Shearer suddenly appeared, blowing out the candles on the cake, which was presented to him by Alan Hansen.
By the way, if you missed Saturday's show, you can see the online version below.
Lots of people have been asking about the opening to the programme, which featured some dudes in football shirts running around a forest. Well, it was the brainchild of Andy Fraser, who organised a combination of actors and BBC employees to meet in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, although it did not go off exactly as planned.
Despite Fraser warning everyone all to "stay on the path", assistant producer Stu Hutchison (in the Stoke shirt) decided on an elaborate overtaking manoeuvre that ended in a tremendous face-plant. It has now been entered into the 'Top 10 Decks of All Time' between Devon Loch and Mary Decker (see below).
The rest of Saturday was spent watching my Premier League Fantasy Football team crumble before my very eyes. I have made all the textbook errors over the years... picking injured players, not changing the team, chasing goalscorers the week after they bag hat-tricks etc etc. But I was determined it would be different this season.
I sat down last Thursday and carefully picked a majestic side. Didier Drogba was skipper, Florent Malouda was in there, too, as was Marlon Harewood, included as a cheap striker. Joe Hart was in goal and the midfield boasted James Milner and Frank Lampard.
Then I did what you should never do when you come out of an exam at school - I talked to other people! They picked holes in my team and told me about world-beaters who had been banging them in for fun in pre-season. So out went Drogba, Malouda, Harewood, Milner and Lampard and in came Nicolas Anelka, Tim Cahill, Mauro Boselli and Cesc Fabregas. I needed to free up a little cash, so Hart got the boot for Robert Green!
I don't support a Premier League team so my choice of players for my fantasy side colours the way I view the top division. For example, I found myself celebrating a meaningless late headed goal from Ryan Shawcross last season, while Charles N'Zogbia gave me an unhealthy interest in Wigan for a few weeks.
There was a twitter-based discussion on the merits of Fantasy Football this week, with one man highlighting the feeling of being torn when one of your chosen strikers takes a penalty against your goalkeeper. The dream scenario is an initial save from the keeper with the rebound then being tucked away by your lad... points a plenty!
If you've got any Fantasy Football secrets you want to share, it would be great to hear them. I should point out that I have never finished anywhere other than mid-table in our leagues at work. And if you have any suggestions for Focus, let's have them, too.
You can follow the progress of this week's show on twitter at twitter.com/danwalkerbbc