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How I ended up on Match of the Day

Claire Stocks | 14:13 UK time, Sunday, 9 September 2007

Match of the Day is one of the longest running TV shows on the BBC, its familar theme tune enough to get the heartbeat racing of football fans everywhere.

So when I, a humble Sunday league hacker, was asked on the off chance, would I "mind" helping out by appearing in a new set of opening titles being filmed for the Women's World Cup, I leapt at the chance like Maradona on banned substances.

If only because I felt I could at least try to prevent the kind of dodgy pretend women's football performed by the likes of Dee Hepburn in Gregory's Girl.

My job, and that of a team-mate from my club (Acton FC), was to act the opposition to England stars Kelly Smith, Rachel Yankey and Faye White. You will see the results of our efforts when Match of the Day kicks of at 1250 BST today (on the red button and online) for the Germany v Argentina game (highlights on BBC TWO at 2350 BST) - that is unless I'm left on the cutting room floor...

The filming took place in an aircraft-hanger of a studio off the A40 on the day England manager Hope Powell named her squad - so Smith, White and Yankey all arrived glued to their mobiles exchanging texts about who was in and who was out.

The production company, Jump, who had won the pitch to create the titles, had impressed the MotD crew with their whizzbang storyboard of special effects and graphics.

In a nutshell, the sequence was to feature a set of Chinese characters morphing into animated footballers (Sin City style), morphing into the England players (performing a header, volley or overhead kick).


Because the sequence relied so heavily on special effects we filmed in a studio painted entirely green, so the graphics could be easily laid on afterwards.

The green light made it feel like a gold fish bowl as, feeling somewhat silly under the gaze of the eight-person crew (director, technical director, cameraman, sound engineer, lighting engineer, runner, assistant producers (2)), we ran through take after take using crash mats and trampolines to accentuate the action.

My job was to tackle White as she volleyed the ball.

Or at least "try" to tackle her in the same way Vincent (Tom Cruise) has to look as if he is trying to pot the eight ball while actually leaving it teetering on the pocket to convince his partner Eddie (Paul Newman) he is not throwing the game in the 1986 film Colour of Money.

In real-life, at 5ft 10ish to my 5ft 3ish, White would brush me off like a mosquito and dance on by. I was hoping that the camera would lie - but no, it makes me look like a small, dumpy gnome scuttling at the heels of this strapping Aryan athlete.

Because the director wanted the action to be as real as possible, we had to repeat the move over and over until he had the exact clip he wanted.

Often we would do it without the ball as it is apparently easier to "add the ball in the edit suite", when they can make it go wherever they like (as opposed to firing off into the ceiling lights or smashing the polystyrene reflector screens...).

So, after five and a half hours of filming in which we managed a total of five shots (header, tackle, overhead kick, volley, celebration) we were finally released to the late summer evening - Smith and her team-mates to leave for China and the World Cup and a potential TV audience of millions - me to get ready for the opening game of our season against Woking FC, in front of our usual crowd of one (someone's mum).

Anyway, you can see the finished article on MotD today.

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