Hodgson, Torres and a cup shock
Last Saturday's Football Focus was an interesting one. For the first time in a long time, the whole programme was pre-recorded. It might have actually been the first time ever.
We had visited a few of the FA Cup third-round underdogs prior to the show, starting in Dover on Monday and finishing outside Wembley on Saturday, and then stitched the whole show together before it went out on BBC One at 1215 GMT. It was a bit of a beast to do and took hours of meticulous planning, so you can imagine our pain when we got word that Hodgson and Liverpool had parted company just before the show went out.
I really felt for the editor of last week's show, James Daniels. He had put in weeks of planning to ensure the programme did not turn into a clichéd FA Cup preview.
I totally understand if some people tuning in were miffed that there was very little reaction to the news from Anfield but if you try to make creative programmes you have to take the occasional risk. We shall continue to do that in the future, although we have learned a few lessons. And fear not, there will be a good look at all things Liverpool this weekend, especially after what happened at Blackpool on Wednesday.
From a personal perspective, the highlight of the third round took place on Monday night at The Broadfield Stadium. If you have read this blog in the past, you will know that I am a Crawley boy and went to my first Town game in the late 1980s.
Sergio Torres celebrates his winner with the Crawley fans
Things have changed a lot since then. In fact, things have changed a lot since last season. The team have new owners who cleared a debt of £1.4m and spent big, hoovering up the best talent from the non-league and beyond.
There are all sorts of inflated rumours about how much Crawley have spent on players and wages. I don't think any team would ever turn down fresh cash but the extra financial backing has made Crawley very unpopular. Buying success at any level - whether you are Chelsea, Manchester City or Crawley - is almost always seen as cheating the system.
That is one of the reasons why not many non-league fans are celebrating Crawley's success. The other reason is the manager. I am not going to use this blog to regurgitate stories about Steve Evans - you can look them up yourself - but it is safe to say that Crawley fans do not have many songs for their manager, who is not particularly popular at Boston United, one of his former clubs.
Having said all that, it was wonderful to be there on Monday for the greatest night in the club's history. I remember beating Northampton Town in 1991 in an FA Cup run that eventually ended miserably in the third round at Brighton.
Things were very different this time around and it was great to take Lee Dixon down to see it. I think he got a taste for non-league football when we visited Thurrock to watch them play Dover last week. Most fans have another team they support and there were always plenty of Crystal Palace supporters in our school playground. Tottenham and Arsenal also featured highly. It just so happened that every Crawley Gooner was out on Monday night, so Dixon signed about 400 programmes and had his picture taken by hordes of fans for whom a red and white scarf covered all bases.
Dixon enjoyed a night to remember
The pre-match steak and ale pie went down a treat, too, and I even had time to do a pre-match interview with BBC Radio Derby, predicting a 2-1 scoreline. I even told the presenter, Colin Gibson, to keep an eye on Sergio Torres. Very rarely do I get anything right. No doubt the weather helped. The light rain throughout the early evening had developed into a steady drizzle by the time kick-off arrived. When the Derby players trotted out, Dixon nudged me and said: "Look at their faces, they don't fancy this."
We were sitting next to the Mayor of Crawley, who had brought his family and enormous necklace along. He gave a double fist pump when Craig McAllister bagged the opener and, like the rest of us, went bonkers when Torres slotted in the winner.
Three seats away was an incredibly vocal bloke with a beard and a bell. His abuse was aimed equally at Derby's Robbie Savage and Nigel Clough. On the rare occasion Rams manager Clough left the sanctity of the dugout, the bell was shaken vigorously and a flurry of unsavoury language followed.
When Crawley won a corner in the 91st minute, a giggling Dixon, for the eighth time in the second half, turned to me and said: "Now would be a good time to score." As the ball was pulled back to Torres, I adopted a strong grip on his left shoulder. The mayor's wife let out a high pitched shriek as the Argentine midfielder wrote a little bit of FA Cup history. I am not sure the result was enough to persuade Dixon to come to Torquay for round four but I think he enjoyed his first experience of Crawley.
Turning to this week's show, we have got plenty planned - all of which will be live! Sunderland boss Steve Bruce will talk derbies, while Dutch midfielder Rafael van der Vaart will look ahead to Tottenham's trip to Manchester United. If you want to follow the build-up, the best place to do it is at twitter.com/danwalkerbbc. If you have any comments or questions about this blog or the show then whack them below.