Bizarre weekend as Crawley go for glory
I often get asked to give talks to schools and universities. Whenever I do, I always ask the people in the audience to tell me who they support. It's good to know your audience.
Once I have gone through the names of the big teams, I ask for fans of Crawley Town to identify themselves. When every hand stays down, I then ask if anyone has heard of Crawley Town. The occasional mitt would be raised.
This season's FA Cup run has changed all that.
The build-up to last Saturday's third round game at Manchester United was a little bizarre.
There are not many Crawley fans knocking around, so I did my fair share of interviews, including the Crawley Observer, the Crawley Argus and a monthly magazine produced by my old school. I was even asked to pick my favourite Crawley FA Cup song and select a list of my favourite players from the club.
I was also booked to appear on BBC Radio 5 live Breakfast on Saturday to talk about coming from Crawley. I assumed they had tried and failed to get The Cure, Gareth Southgate, Faye White and Eugene from Big Brother.
When Saturday came, I was on my way to the 5 live studio when I got a call from a producer to tell me I had been dropped from the programme. I turned round and made my way down to the Football Focus office instead.
It was while I was making the journey that I realised my career had sunk to its lowest point.
Over the speakers in the lift, which all broadcast 5 live, I heard "We've been talking about Crawley all morning and I'm delighted to say we are joined on the line by Chico from X Factor".
Crawley Town fans had a day to remember at Old Trafford. (Picture by PA)
Apparently Chico moved to Crawley as a 14-year-old before training as a hairdresser and then joining an exotic dance troupe called Extreme Force. How could I compete with that? I'm not sure if he is a Broadfield Stadium regular but his presence gave me a reminder of my place in the food chain.
I put the disappointment behind me and rattled through Focus, even managing to mention my dream about Matt Tubbs scoring the winner in the 85th minute.
I think Lawro was still giggling about that as we jumped in his car after the show was over and headed to Old Trafford. He had a bag of chocolate eclair sweets in the glove compartment and I worked my way through them as we listened to commentary of Chelsea's game with Everton.
When it got to penalties, I was impressed that Lawro called every one correctly. As soon as Leighton Baines missed, he told me Everton would still come out on top. "Really," I responded. "You'll be amazed at how many times the team that misses the first spot-kick wins," announced Lawro as we steamed up the M6. He was right.
When we arrived at Old Trafford, Lawro donned a sophisticated disguise to avoid being spotted... a hat. Apparently, he has had some grief outside the venue before so he had decided that the hat on, head down policy was the way forward. That said, within five seconds of stepping out of the car, someone had recognised him. The man needs a bigger hat.
As Lawro made his way through the crowds to do the co-commentary on 5 live, I went to film for Final Score, only arriving in the press box five minutes before kick-off and missing out on the pre-match meal. The grub at most Premier League grounds is good but the tucker at Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United is worthy of the Champions League.
The game itself was an odd one. The home fans were rather quiet and the 9,000 supporter from Crawley were in full voice, particularly in the second half when both Tubbs and Richard Brodie had chances to secure a replay.
Now I know there are lots of you reading this who have a deep hatred of my team. People take exception to the money Crawley have, where it comes from and the manager who spends it. To a certain extent, I understand the issues but, just for a moment, may I invite you to step down from the high horse, swallow the bile and delight in the fact that a non-League side went to Old Trafford and played well, albeit against an under-strength Manchester United.
On the way home, I was one of the thousands of Crawley fans who were shoehorned into one of the trains back to London. I shared the corridor outside a lavatory with a lady who wondered why the train was packed with slightly giddy middle-aged men and three Lithuanian chaps who liked basketball and whisky. Good times.
Crawley had not won an FA Cup game for seven seasons before this one. Hopefully, we will not have to wait too long for the next one.
Cup football will feature highly on this week's Football Focus. You will hear Alex McLeish, Cameron Jerome, Seb Larsson, Arsene Wenger and Nicklas Bendtner looking ahead to the Carling Cup final, which is being broadcast on BBC One, Radio 5 live and the BBC Sport website, while Saloman Kalou will talk about Chelsea and Fernando Torres.
Former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez will also join Lee Dixon on the sofa. Benitez had some fascinating things to say when we interviewed him recently for Focus, so I am sure he will be just as interesting when he comes into the studio. We hope throw a few of your questions at him in the last few minutes of the show, so get them down below or send them to me at twitter.com/danwalkerbbc.
We also have another beauty of a show lined up for the following week. I went to New York last week to speak to Manchester United legend Eric Cantona about the re-birth of the New York Cosmos and all things football. I can honestly say that I have never enjoyed an interview so much. He jousted, jostled and philosophised for the best part of 45 minutes. Some of what he said was particularly explosive. All will be revealed next week.
If you want to follow the build-up to the show, you can find me twitter.com/danwalkerbbc.