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James Corden - a proper footy fan

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Dan Walker | 12:10 UK time, Tuesday, 25 August 2009

About two weeks ago, one of my first duties as Football Focus man was to go to this season's Premier League launch in some swanky room near Marble Arch in London. At the end of the presentation, there was an opportunity to discuss any concerns for the new season. The vast majority of time was spent asking why it is so hard to get access to players - both before and after games.

It's always nice to hear from a footballer, especially if they are articulate. But last week on Focus we managed to steal an hour with a man who you would think would be almost impossible to track down. Not a footballer but James Corden - writer, actor, star of Gavin & Stacey and that brilliant Comic Relief sketch with the England team. He took time out of getting Series three of G&S ready for October to meet us at Upton Park and talk about his love for West Ham.

I was expecting to meet a really arrogant, famous bloke, a "celebrity" fan who had been told to start going to football matches by his agent. What I found was a thoroughly friendly, very normal lad with a very deep love for his boys. Within minutes of meeting him, James was talking passionately about Steve Potts, John Moncur and "Mad Dog" Martin Allen - here was a proper football fan.

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We were told by the club that we could go anywhere - apart from the dressing rooms. I did explain this to Mr Corden, who walked straight through reception... and into the dressing rooms. He starting taking pictures on his phone - the lockers, the showers, the counters on the manager's tactics board that had been arranged into a smiley face.

Filming the piece took about four times longer than it should have done because James kept breaking off to speak to people who were working around the ground and coming to get his autograph. He first went to Upton Park in his teens - brought by his best mate, Gav, the inspiration for the sitcom.

Ever since then, they have followed the same match-day ritual - same car park, same route to the hot dog man, same hot dog, same programme seller, same gate and the same seat.

Once we'd finished filming, we asked James if he would mind helping us with an opening for the programme, which involved him coaching me in Smithy style to present Focus. We were all happy with the end product but it did take a bit time to get it right. Rather than wait for Auntie's Bloomers we've put the out-takes here for you...

Dan Walker meets James Corden

James was an all-round top bloke. If you thought his sketch for Comic Relief was good, wait til you see what he's got planned for Sport Relief. I have been sworn to secrecy but - if it comes off - you can take the thing he did with England and times it by about 13!

It was also great to welcome Gordon Strachan back to the Focus sofa. The last time I saw him he was getting a little frustrated with me at a Southampton press conference. Gordon is one of those managers who makes you really think about what you ask him because he has little time for stupid questions. There is the famous incident where an interviewer asked him for a "quick word" and he said "velocity" and that was it.

Anyway, the press conference I mentioned was a post-match affair after the Saints had lost at Bolton. Some guy asked him a really dumb question about losing and Gordon thought it was me. Rather than put my hand up and say it was this bloke who asked the dumb question and not me, I just took it on the chin.

Gordon seems to be enjoying life away from the dugout at the moment and I loved his assessment of the Joleon Lescott situation at Everton. Asked about David Moyes' stubborn refusal to let the defender go unless it was right for Everton, he simply pointed out that Moyes was "Scottish"... or "Davey Moyes" as he called him. I have only ever met one other man who calls the Everton boss "Davey" and that was Pat Nevin.

It must be nice to know someone like that well enough to get away with changing their name. I do love a good nickname. When you see me finish the programme by thanking "Strakoid" and the "Lawrinator", you'll know I'm fully settled. It will probably be my last appearance, but it might just be worth it!

I am on holiday for a few days this week. It's nothing exotic just a mini-break with family and friends near sunny Southampton.

I might not be able to respond to any of your comments until Thursday or Friday, but feel free to fire away and I'll see you back on the TV at 1130 next Saturday. We're on early again because of the Formula One Grand Prix from Belgium.


  • Comment number 1.

    so why cant you get to the players before and after the games?

  • Comment number 2.

    Nice enough guy and all that but as anybody that knew him in his youth will tell you he's not a football fan

  • Comment number 3.

    He looks more of a Burger King fan, maybe he should support Getafe, have you seen their new kit?!

  • Comment number 4.

    Try as I might, I can't find any footage of him invading the pitch last night. Perhaps he was still buying a pre-match pie...

  • Comment number 5.

    Nice enough guy and all that but as anybody that knew him in his youth will tell you he's not a football fan

    First off, you can't make comments like that without explaining what you mean. Second off, I was a Rugby fanatic until a few years ago. I had absolutely no time for football. Thankfully I've seen the error of my ways, and couldn't miss a match now. The point is people change.

  • Comment number 6.

    The guy writing this blog is really bad at it. Is this for a CBBC Newsround 'press-pack' thingy?

  • Comment number 7.

    "It's always nice to hear from a footballer, especially if they are articulate"

    Or even if they're not presumably?

    Please no, there are few things duller than listening to current or ex-footballers speak, I wish broadcasters would drop this starstruck obession with people just because they are famous, it's a sickness.

    There are a handful of people in football who can talk like Mourinho, Wenger or Ferguson (oh well) otherwise I'd much rather hear from an articulate fan, intelligent journalist or anyone but people who are only on just because they're a celebrity.

  • Comment number 8.

    Scotlands12thMan, the previous poster's right, not you. Yes, people change, but that doesn't mean you can ignore their pasts. If you've only been following football for a few years (particularly after being an egg-chaser) you won't be a proper football fan until Scotland win the World Cup...

  • Comment number 9.

    I thought it was Kenny Dalglish who said "velocity" after being asked for a 'quick word.'

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    Rabster it was definately Strachan.... I used to love his post match interviews when GS was at the Saints, The prem needs characters like that a little arrogance goes a long way.... Jose Mourinho too.... far too many boring Managers... Moyes and Hughes have about as much personality as a house plant... Hopefully Ancelotti will be like Ranieri in the interview room he was hilarious!

  • Comment number 12.

    This is nothing more than a love in with a C list celebrity...

    if you love him so much then can i recommend that you get a room... and stop writing love poems about him thinly disguised as a blog on football.

    ps - my last comment was removed that said pretty much the same .... hopefully the moderator will allow this one through as this is a genuine opinion of mine specifically about the content of this blog... it is not offensive to anyone nor do i believe it breaks house rules.

  • Comment number 13.

    5. At 8:07pm on 26 Aug 2009, Scotlands12thMan wrote:
    Nice enough guy and all that but as anybody that knew him in his youth will tell you he's not a football fan

    First off, you can't make comments like that without explaining what you mean. Second off, I was a Rugby fanatic until a few years ago. I had absolutely no time for football. Thankfully I've seen the error of my ways, and couldn't miss a match now. The point is people change.

    Well I mean that it's not in his blood so to speak - at school he was very much focused on his acting and not interested in football. And fair play it's proven a very good decision... but his passion is acting/performance art. He's not a proper football fan by any stretch.

    It's not in your blood either and your late arrival on the football scene means you will never 'understand' a game like I do after spending my youth playing the game and watching as much as I could. They were development phases you missed out on.

  • Comment number 14.

    Pretty poor blog, and i agree with #6 reads like a newsround article.

    Still beats Horne and Corden though.

    Enjoyed his Comic Relief sketch, and look forward to his sports relief one if it is as good as you say (though fear it will be identikit).

    I didn't actually learn anything from this, were any questions asked at all? There was a lot of scope... (In the video Corden comes across as a bit sub-gervais if you get what i mean.)

    Anyway, don't take it as personal keep going, i just didn't like this particular blog and if i do enjoy blogs i rarely comment... I enjoy your presenting.

  • Comment number 15.

    Curlyfries. I've got to admit, i don't agree with what you've said at all. There is no hierachy of football fan as such. Either you follow it, or you don't. Also the blog did say that it wasn't until his teenage years that he got involved with West Ham. Just because he's a late starter, doesn't make him any less of a fan than anybody else. It annoys me when people say "I've been a football fan longer, therefore I'm a bigger/better fan than you are". I understand where you're coming from, but I don't agree with it at all. Just for the record, I've been a Saints fan since I was 7.

  • Comment number 16.

    For me they'll never truly understand it. At school my life was football at break and lunch, after school was football on the green, summer holidays football at the Rec - everything football. Love it. Always have. Always will. For me it's different to somebody that starts watching in their teens.

  • Comment number 17.

    The quote wrongly attributed to both Mr Strachan and Mr Dalglish was in fact from one of Mr Strachans colleagues at both Aberdeen and Manchester United, One Mr Martin Buchan. To my knowledge Mr Dalglish doesnt have a four syllable word in his vocabulary.

  • Comment number 18.

    Apparently all the trouble kicked off the other night after the West Ham and Millwall fans heard there was going to be another series of Horne and Corden!

  • Comment number 19.

    What an absolutely pointless exercise this blog is. Not only does 'Dan the Man' have the journalistic acumen of a frozen trout, his sycophantic sucking up to the utterly talentless James Corden (one of the most offensive/least funny/fattest people on the planet), frankly makes me want to wretch. Of what relevance to us as football fans is Danny Boy telling us that James Corden is a 'real football fan'??? I couldn't care less. Why not dedicate this blog to interesting stories from leagues we might not know too much about? Lower leagues? Europe?

    Good work by Corden's agent though, he's the real winner. Anyone have his number? I quite fancy being famous...

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 21.


    I completely agree with you. I've been an avid fan since the age of 6 (see if you can guess which team), no less of a fan than CurlyFries professes to be in comment 16, but I fully accept anyone who finds themselves following football at any stage of their life. For example, it would be the greatest day of my life if my fiancee could suddenly find the same passion for the game as me, even at 23 years old - but there's not much chance of that happening!

    I agree with the majority of posters that this is only slightly football-related, but I welcome Dan's blogs fully. I look forward to the next one - his first was a fantastic insight in to what goes on behind the scenes at the beeb.

    @19 charliewarren25

    I suspect you are merely "trolling", but I will bite nonetheless. Of what relevance is James Corden's size here? How could there possibly be any relevance? You might as well complain about Adebayor being one of the darkest-skinned footballers, bigot. (By the way, I am a white male aged 18-40, 6'1 and 11 stone. Try targeting me as a minority! And yes, I know prejudism against fat people is not as serious as racism, but there just isn't any point. I think everything that Corden has done on the telly is awful - especially Gavin and Stacey - but from what I see of him, I do really like the guy).

  • Comment number 22.

    Ignoring the whole content and opinions of the article for a second and all that malarky - but...


    Seriously Dan, did you get dressed in the dark that morning or something!?? Lol


  • Comment number 23.

    #19 Brilliant....personally I don't read many of these blogs but I read the coments for comedy value.....had me in stitches and couldn't agree more.

    #21 Calm down about charliewarren25's was a joke and seeing how part of his license fee goes towards paying for these blogs I'd say he's allowed an opinion. Besides, he didn't say anyhting against fat people, he just said James Corden is fat, which really, you can't argue with.

    My personal point of view, another pointless blog about nothing to do with footie, just Dan the Man walker showing off about a job it seems he enjoys, which is fair enough, we'd all do it!! Wish I had a job where I get to talk and write about footie all day long, but then I'd have to meet James Corden, who seems like a nice enough bloke, I just think he's over-rated as a comedian. The only good thing he did was the comic relief sketch and the best part about that was watching Crouchy pulling the rope terrible after he scored a goal.....priceless!! Lets all take this a little less seriously shall we, no ones important is gonna take much notice anyways....

  • Comment number 24.


    Thanks for the comments so far - all of them. I understand that some are a little miffed that James Corden got so much air time - both in this blog and on last week's programme.

    I thought he was an interesting character and he came across as a nice bloke who genuinely likes his football - and West Ham - eventhough he didn't come out of the womb wearing claret and blue and blowing bubbles.

    I think it might be helpful to say what this blog is meant to be all about. It's not supposed to be at the vanguard of footballing journalism. There are plenty of other posts that hit that spot. If that is what you are after let me direct you to Phil McNulty, Paul Fletcher or Tim Vickery. The point of this blog is to give you a little insight into Football Focus and what goes into to getting the programme on air. It is meant to be lighthearted and fun.

    That's the plan but I am happy to be directed by your good selves. See you on Saturday at 11:30.

    By the way - just in case you've not had enough of celebrity football fans - Justin Lee Collins is talking about Bristol City this week. I won't say anything nice about him, just in case anyone gets furious, but it should be worth a watch.


  • Comment number 25.

    To be honest calling David Moyes Davey Moyes isn't really a big deal. It's not because Strachan is best pals with Moyes it's because in Scotland if your called David you get called Davey. Bit of a non-point to be honest.

  • Comment number 26.

    CurlyFriesFan actually invented football, so can we all just listen to him please.

    James Corden comes across as a likeable lad. He's gently amusing prime-time fodder who i have absolutely no interest in watching. Justin Lee Collins is barely amusing prime-time fodder who seems to be on telly solely because of his wurzle accent and hair. Neither of them would induce me to watch the festival of blandness that is Football Focus.

  • Comment number 27.

    ... and Chris Evans seamlessly passes on the celeb 'soccer' baton...

    Pass the Pringles!

  • Comment number 28.

    Unfunny man with something to plug and who is obsessed with being on TV gets a spurious opportunity to be on TV ('impossible to track down'!! Are you serious? He's hardly the Dalai Lama for flip's sake). BBC person tries to justify this pointless piece of brown nosing by claiming he's a proper 'footy' fan, convinces no one. Pointless exercise all round.

    Oh, and why is James Corden doing a David Brent impression on this clip?

  • Comment number 29.

    Great blog Dan!
    I found it both amusing and interesting.

  • Comment number 30.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 31.

    I was going to mention the david/davey thing too. I can't think of one person I knew/know back home who was called David and not Davey.

  • Comment number 32.

    Gervais yeah? Oooh..that's..embarassing 'n that. Yeah? Hmmm? Oh? What? Against karate? Yeah? Hmmm i prefer a flan!

  • Comment number 33.

    Curlyfries # 13 and 16

    I get where he is coming from. Living and breathing it as a child and the bonding between father and son and a young boy and his school/street mates through watching, playing, talking, learning, fantasizing and generally obsessing about it every minute of every waking hour is a different kind of "appreciation" than one might get in later life.
    In the same way that someone might find the 2003 mature series of He-man cartoon good entertainment (which it was) it will not be cherished and understood quite the same as it is by all the kids who ran home from school to watch the original 80's show.

  • Comment number 34.

    Just got round to reading the comments on this blog. Seems to me that some people can be staggeringly self-righteous about both comedy and football - we only need music to complete the set. It comes across as nothing more than playa-hating, to be brutally honest.

    It's clear that James Corden, even having committed the cardinal sin of ONLY GETTING INTO FOOTBALL IN HIS TEENS, is knowledgeable, committed, but more importantly LOVES this game as much of those of us who were born with a football rattle in one hand and a season ticket in the other. It's inverted snobbery of the highest order to write him off as some sort of 'celeb fan' when he's patently been obsessed with footy since long before he got so much as a sniff of fame.

    And as for the ridiculous suggestion that FF and/or Dan are pandering to his need for attention - please. That piece was light-hearted, interesting and mildly funny, which (a short piece on Scotland World Cup qualifying campaigns aside) is as much as we ever have a right to expect from Saturday lunchtime TV. As Dan says, neither FF or the blog are meant to be the cutting edge of football journalism - for me it sits perfectly between the moronic-but-amusing shenanigans of Soccer AM and the dry, worthy tactical panel discussions of old. The piece with Corden certainly spoke to me of the experience of becoming a football fan in the true sense, of discovering the all-encompassing joy of just BEING in your club's ground and sharing the experience with 30,000 others. Corden still clearly has that childlike glee at merely stepping foot inside the Boleyn Ground - something that I can still certainly identify with even after twenty-plus years of going to Hillsborough.

    This is in danger of becoming an essay, so I 'll sign off now - but I for one would only change one thing about FF - the DISGRACEFUL shirts. Sort it out, Dan!

  • Comment number 35.

    "I was expecting to meet a really arrogant, famous bloke, a "celebrity" fan who had been told to start going to football matches by his agent. What I found was a thoroughly friendly, very normal lad..."

    And the very next paragraph -

    "We were told by the club that we could go anywhere - apart from the dressing rooms. I did explain this to Mr Corden, who walked straight through reception... and into the dressing rooms."

    Isn't such behaviour exactly what you'd expect from a really arrogant, famous bloke?


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