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Time to Focus on a new role

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Dan Walker | 17:11 UK time, Tuesday, 18 August 2009

This is a big moment. My first BBC blog. Where do I start? Do I have to wear a tie while I write this sucker? In fact I am wearing shorts and an England cricket top, but I'll start by telling you how this all came about.

The day I was offered the gig on Football Focus was a strange one. It was the Thursday of the Open at Turnberry and at 2 pm I looked at my phone - not the done thing on the course - and saw I had two missed calls from the head of television sport at the BBC.

I thought he wanted to tell me off for something I had either said or done on the golf course, so I didn't ring him back until 8.15 that night. I can't remember exactly how the conversation went, but I was told that Ray Stubbs was leaving and there was going to be a bit of a shake-up in football.

I thought I was going to be asked to cover some shows while they sorted things out, so when I was offered the Focus gig I think my voice went a little high-pitched and I might have squealed a touch. After I'd hung up I kicked a pebble in delight and called my wife. The bad news was the pebble took a nasty ricochet right and left a little nick on a BMW!

Yours truly with Lee Dixon and Mark Lawrenson

On driving home from Turnberry that night I remember thinking about all the previous regular presenters of Focus... Wilson, Rider, Lineker, Stubbs, Bhasin and the sizeable shoes I was going to have to fill. I knew that we weren't talking mouldy moccasins... these were really fancy snow boots with tassles and go-faster stripes.

The next two weeks were pretty bonkers... press conferences, interviews and endless meetings in addition to trying to look after daughter number two, who is now six weeks old. But none of that has in any way reduced my excitement.

My Saturdays as a young boy were based around Grandstand and Focus. I used to annoy my mother by commentating on old ladies in the frozen food isle when I was dragged to the supermarket after school. I even wrote a letter to Des Lynam at the age of 11 asking him how I could get his job.

Anyway, enough of me blithering on about my new job. The whole point of this blog is to try to give you a bit more access to the programme. It would be great to hear your opinions, what you want to see... or not.

In the weeks to come I will hopefully be taking you on a grand tour of all the various bits behind the scenes but here is a brief overview of how it all comes together...

We have a meeting every Tuesday, normally attended by various superstars from football. You can see from the photo below that Garth Crooks and Mark Bright were in there this week while in the bottom right-hand corner you will see the back of Motty's head.

Motty takes a call

The highlight of the meeting was the great man's ring tone. Hearing Elvis singing "The Wonder of You" will brighten any meeting. With each phone call he receives, Motty disappear for two minutes... you never know who is on the other end but it always sounds important.

Filming for the programme will usually take place on a Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. Jonathan Pearce interviewed Mark Hughes on the Thursday while Garth went off to see Roy Keane on Friday morning. Friday is normally spent writing cues, checking facts, eating cake, watching the cut pieces, checking facts and generally getting things together.

We now have a new task on Friday as well. Lawro and I will film Friday Focus, which is a cunning way of previewing the weekend with a 10-minute cut down version of what you will see on the Saturday. Check out the next instalment from about 6pm this Friday.

My first appointment on Saturday morning is to turn up at the BBC Breakfast studio at about 8.35 to tell the people what is coming up on Focus and play a few snippets from the interviews we have on the programme.

Then we all head down to the Focus, Score and Match of the Day production office. It's in there that coffee and tea is drunk, bacon sandwiches are devoured and we all have a gander at the morning papers to make sure we've not missed anything.

Then it's make-up on, shirt on and into the studio to run through the programme and make sure everything is working. Lawro turns up about eight seconds before we are on but you would never know.

The highlight of last week's show was definitely the 'phantom hand' that appeared during JP's bit from Ewood Park.

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Loads of people have asked me about it, so I did a little digging and can confirm that the owner of the hand was in fact floor manager Nick Bushell. If you look very carefully you can see there is a rather special watch on that wrist as well. Nick says it is a Chairman Mao watch that was purchased in Tiananmen Square and broke the day after he bought it for the equivalent of just £2. I hope that clears that up.

Right... time to go now. I've got to go and do an interview with BBC Radio Cumbria about being the new presenter of Football Focus. I've hit the big time!


  • Comment number 1.

    Welcome to the big time mate and a good first blog. Does Motty turn up to the meetings in "that" coat?

  • Comment number 2.

    I rang you for some advice some months ago about becoming a Journalist, (I am friends with a certain Mr.Olyott) and I am about to start a Journalism degree in September. I was, and still am, very grateful that you took the time to speak to me and offer such excellent advice. I took your points on board, started a blog amongst other things, and eventually applied to study. When I saw that you had become the presenter of Football Focus I was thrilled. Many many congratulations on securing such a fantastic and prestigious position. Any football fan worth his or her salt will have grown up watching FF, and it is a dream job for any sports Journalist. I am disappointed that the position has been filled as I had my eye on it, (!) but I can tell my kids that I know, (well, sort of) the face of FF!
    All the very best in the job, you are a lucky, but deserving, man.
    Liam Deveney.

  • Comment number 3.

    "Friday is normally spent writing cues, CHECKING FACTS, eating cake, watching the cut pieces, CHECKING FACTS and generally getting things together."

    I am going to be the first annoying pedant of your blogging career!

  • Comment number 4.

    Come in number 3.

    Well spotted yajusdonsavethose but the double 'fact check' was actually intentional. Get the facts wrong and everything else falls to bits. Thanks for the comments though gents. Nice to know you are getting stuck in. I'm off to check some more facts.

  • Comment number 5.

    On Football Focus, less on the contract negoitations of big players and less on Newcastle, more on the inside of teams.
    Im sick to death hearing fo Newcastle this, Newcastle that, they are not a big club anymore nor do I want to hear Torres or Gerrard sign their 4th contract extenison in 2 years.
    Why doesnt the BBC look at the history of clubs and stadium tours, a little bit like Soccer AM but not as much but Dan, you are doing a great job.
    Motty should get a major slot sometimes on it maybe a Motty Moment, a snipet of Football class from years gone by.

  • Comment number 6.

    Yes congratulations on your new job, looking forward to a season of football on BBC as usual!

    But yes many of us do not care about Newcastle United. I got sick of the media coverage last season saying about 'football in the north east being in dire straights' which is totally not true. They have a team in the premier league and two otherbig teams in the championship who have the potential to get promoted.
    If you want a region to cover where football is properly on it's knees then give some attention to the east midlands. Lincoln City, Grimsby Town, Boston United. I'd say all these are in worse positions than Newcastle and Middlesborough wouldn't you? But rant over I do generally enjoy football on the BBC and looking forward to some of the live football league matches.

  • Comment number 7.

    If we are all going to slate Newcastle then I will do too. Don't cover Newcastle, they are not a 'sleeping giant', nor do they have the most passionate fans in the country etc. etc. I have always preferred the moniker 'Car-Toon Army'.

    Now that's out of the way, good work on the blog and good luck with football focus. It would be nice to see more lower league coverage and reports which could highlight the difference between the big fish of the Premier League and the lower league minnows.

  • Comment number 8.

  • Comment number 9.

    I find it very funny how 3 out of 7 comments on this topic which has nothing to do with them, are so far all all about Newcastle.

    This is a typical response from football fans all over the country who seem determined to talk about us no matter what the subject.

    Not bad for a small club!

  • Comment number 10.

    Enjoyable blog Dan, will this be a weekly event?

    Thinking back to my youth, my Saturday's always followed a VERY strict routine - breakfast, Live and Kicking, Football Focus, football in the garden, Final Score. You must be very proud to be a fixture on many gentlemens lives - more so that most of our partners!

    I missed the show on Saturday I'm afraid, but one comment I do have, is perhaps bring back the goal highlights of the games from the previous week, as not everybody's girlfriend is quite so understanding when it comes to football on the telebox on a Satuurday night (despite however many property shows I have to put up with....) and not everybody can afford the generic live TV recorder.

    Keep up the good work!

    (1st post for me!)

  • Comment number 11.

    nice blog, motty has adopted my meeting stance there......drifting off & playing with his mobile!

  • Comment number 12.

    Well brothers and sisters. This is all good. I will make sure all your points are mentioned at the next few meetings. To answer some of the questions so far...

    Not seen Motty's coat at any of the meetings so far - but it has been quite warm!
    Yes, this blog is going to be a weekly event.

  • Comment number 13.

    Hi Dan,

    I saw on another BBC page that you supported the mighty Crawley Town as a youngster. Is this true? Did you get to many matches then or even recently? Would be great to have someone famous who has a passsion for the Red Devils!

    Maybe even give us a shout on football focus. ;)

  • Comment number 14.

    Good first blog Dan, and congratulations on bagging a fantastic show. Hope it all goes very well throughout the season and im sure you will fill those snow boots no problem.

    By the way, can i have a billing address to forward the bill for the little nick on my BMW?

  • Comment number 15.

    I know you probably dont have anything to do with the 'Talent' but any chance of having someone who isnt either an ex Arsenal or Liverpool player, am bored of the biase of Lawro, Hanson, Dixon, Keown etc etc.

    Also whilst I enjoy reading Hansons interviews on here, it would be nice if A: they were more often and B: he talked about something other than Liverpool and the 'Top 4' all the time!

    Anyway good job so far, and who do you support out of interest?

  • Comment number 16.


    You say the head of television sport said there was going to be 'a bit of a shake-up in football'. I assume he was talking about the game in general as Garth Crooks still remains on the BBC roster. A real shame. The perfect opportunity to replace him.
    Best of luck for the season. A really solid start.

  • Comment number 17.

    Hi Dan.

    Please can you tell me when quick summary highlights of goals are shown, why do they TV Directors/Producers/Editors/Whoever insist on showing the worst possible angle to view the footage.
    Sky do the same thing too. Typically using an angle from behind or to the side of the goal, with the view concentrated on the ball or player rather than the whole pitch.
    When a match is shown we get to see the whole pitch and what is around the player to get a perspective of how well the goal was taken.

    I hope you understand what I'm referring to, as it's so annoying and frustrating to see the awful angles on the goal summary highlights.


  • Comment number 18.

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

  • Comment number 19.

    Congrats and welcome to blogville. I don't know who you support, but I'm sure I speak for many when I say, can you please present unbiased coverage during your time with us.

    McNulty, Lawro, Hanson etc etc etc. All following one of the most boring teams in the prem, and every week it's just all about Liverpool: Who they played, how they played, who they're playing next and who thinks they're going to win. Who bloody cares? Only one set of fans from one team. They've got their representatives - can the rest of us be represented now too?

    So please take a more rounded view and try to spread the love around a little bit. And good luck trying to please everyone. It's a good start so far ...

  • Comment number 20.

    Congrats on the job Dan! You're moving fast, you'll be over-taking Linekar soon (can I suggest you do this by endorsing your own range of Dan Walker's Crisps?)

    Keep up the good presenting!

  • Comment number 21.

    I'm sorry but this blog reads like you were writing about your first day at school.
    In my opinion, Football Focus is a tired product. It's just a re-hash of the topics/issues which have been done to death by Sky Sports News during the week.
    It says something if the highlight of your first show was the "phantom hand" of a floor manager during a shot.

  • Comment number 22.

    Dan - top blogging. Always good to have a more intereactive forum.

    You mention superstars of football yet you also mention Garth Crooks, who, in a very real sense, may, or perhaps may not, vis a vis the question asking, be the person who seems to randomly string together the longest and indeed most long question possible in a way that seems designed to highlight his intellect, yet, converserly seems merely to undermine the interviewee, the interviewer and indeed his employers.

    A bit like Russell Brand, only without the humour and that aint it?

    How does Crooksy still have a job?

    Stay classy!

  • Comment number 23.

    My names Dan Walker too!!! i now have a (semi)famous name!!!

  • Comment number 24.

    Congratulations on the job, i am one of many who would of loved the job.Iam stuck in France until October so you will be well settled in by then. Its good to here ex pros talking but they need challenging, visit some lower league clubs and show us the good and the bad, how small clubs are keeping there heads above water and how others are falling from grace. I would like to know how a club can be penalised twice when going into administration and cant buy players then get deducted points, maybe you could get someone from the football league to answer that one. We all know there is to much money at the top, Montpelliers top player is valued at 2 million euro. time for change. all the best for the season.

  • Comment number 25.

    Good blog Dan, very insightful. Number 3 obviously needs to reassess his life if complaining at your content is high on his priorty list...

  • Comment number 26.

    Glad you are enjoying the interactivity. I will try and keep it up all season... apart from next week when I am going camping for 4 days!

    Let me try and address some of the latest issues and questions...

    Crawley Town - crawleytown567. Yes brother I am a fan of the finest team in red and white. My father did try and turn me into a Spurs fan in my youth and I was slightly obsessed with Hoddle for a while but I was eventually won over by my home town team. Many a happy Saturday afternoon was spent at Town Mead.

    Wonky camera angles - Icedman777. I know what you mean but I think this is just the way television is made these days. "Why use a straight shot when you can have one from a bloke hanging upside down from a blimp?" Personally I like a bit of wonk but you know it's gone too far when you have no idea who was playing!

    Big 4 and Liverpool bias - TheDeluded (and others). It's one of those things that football fans just have to accept... the vast majority of debate will centre on the big boys. If you think there are too many Liverpool and Arsenal pundits then you might be pleased to hear that Gordon Strachan will be returning to the Focus sofa this season - hopefully starting this week.

    Crisps - LallanaWonderland. I continue to dream of a lucrative crisp contract... although I prefer wine gums!

    Rubbish blog / Focus pointless - mojopin1983. You are right that coverage of football has changed a lot over the last 20 years but I firmly believe that Focus still has an important place in the market and hopefully you will see one or two changes this season that will keep you happy... or at least slightly less miserable.

    Keep an eye out for Friday Focus on the website from about 6pm this Friday by the way. See you soon.

    Carlo Ancelotti

  • Comment number 27.


    Let me congratulate you on landing the Football Focus job, but I must admit that I'm somewhat unable to take you seriously due to something I've heard about you, namely that throughout your career, you've refused to work on a Sunday because of your religious beliefs.

    So, can you confirm if this is true, and if so, can you explain why you've taken this particular stance?

    Furthermore, do you even watch or go to football matches on the Sabbath, or just spend the day praying for the mortal souls of those who actually do?

  • Comment number 28.

    Hi Dan,

    I don't usually comment on blogs but thought I'd say I think you've been excellent on Focus these last two weeks. I've always like Manish since he was a reporter for ITV Central during the time of ITV Digital and was disappointed to see he wasn't presenting Focus any more. But I haven't missed him at all!

    Keep up the great work!!

  • Comment number 29.

    "Wilson, Rider, Lineker, Stubbs, Bhasin and the sizeable shoes I was going to have to fill."

    Irony isn't dead.

    "Lawro turns up about eight seconds before we are on"

    Really, you can't tell.

  • Comment number 30.


    Ive really enjoyed the first 2 Focus shows but why oh why do your bosses insist on cutting it to 30mins every time there is an F1 race.

    There is so much to cover this saturday with a full weekend fixture program plus 6 midweek PL games and a full midweek FL program just gone, not to mention Celtic/Arsenal in the CL.

    If the BBC insist on continuing with a 50min build up for F1 qualifying (which is bloated and unecessary) will they please put Focus on BBC2 or the red button rather than just chop it down!!!!

    Rant over, keep up the good work.

  • Comment number 31.

    Well done mate!

    Dont mean to be rude, but i have never heard of you or seen you on tv before!...but it seems like footie focus will be great to watch with you presenting!

  • Comment number 32.

    Ooh I remember you on Key 103, I've not seen the new season of Focus, can't wait for Friday Focus, it's been needed since the days of Nationwide (yes I'm that old) when Des or David Coleman would preview the weekend action, cracking stuff

  • Comment number 33.

    Classic comments ktfoot!

    In the 8 seconds that Lawro is there but the cameras aren't on, can you ask him to take a couple of Prozac? Honestly, he's so downbeat and depressed. Maybe it's just because Liverpool haven't won the title in about 50 years... :-(

    Cheer up Lawro.

  • Comment number 34.

    Dearest footballing brethren…

    If you don’t know already just a gentle reminder that Focus is all being squeezed into 30 minutes this Saturday and - because of the F1 - we are kicking off at 1130.

    Despite the loss of 15 mintues we are managing to shoe-horn the following into the 3rd programme of the season.

    Gordon Strachan will be making his first appearance on the Focus sofa this season alongside Mr M Lawrenson. We'll be reflecting on a bonkers week at Turf Moor - talking to volley-wizard Robbie Blake and his boss Owen Coyle. We might try and discover who hit the ball harder in midweek… Blake or Jermaine Defoe against Hull.

    So you'll see those goals again - probably from a few angles - but we'll also have the rest of the beauties from the midweek premier league games just in case you missed them.

    The dream-team of Motty and Martin (Keown) are together again - this time at the Emirates for Arsenal (flying-high) and Porstmouth (hurtling downwards at good crack). Frank Lampard will be talking us through Chelsea's impressive start to the season and telling us whether they intend to give everyone a goal lead this season. I could also do with talking to him about my fantasy league team because he is currently captain and I could do with a few more points.

    And here's a stat to dazzle your friends with… there is only one team in the championship who have failed to score a goal this season… Reading. Brendan Rodgers has a big task ahead and he'll live on the programme at about 11:54 am (we might be a minute either side of that).

    All that and loads more at 11:30 this Saturday and don't forget to look out for Friday Focus on the website and red button from about 6pm on - you've guessed it - Friday. See you soon comrades.

  • Comment number 35.

    Hello Dan,
    I am pleased Football Focus is back. I would like to see more items about celebrity fans and their passion for teams, like James Coren's piece about West Ham. Keep up the good work, but please don't refer to Wolves and Hull as the teams in orange, it's gold! Technically 'Old Gold' and black in the case of WWFC. According to Hull's Chairman (a few years ago), when Hull was being revived as a club they decided to use the same colours as Wolves for their strip.

  • Comment number 36.

    Hello Dan,

    Really good to see you presenting FF on the BBC. Must be very exciting but am sure a lot of hard work! Keep up the good work,

    Dan Goddard

  • Comment number 37.

    Thanks for the colour-based update davidbennettwolves. I will try and avoid any mention of orange. I suppose the closest you get are Blackpool and that's 'tangerine'.

  • Comment number 38.

    Please speak to the FF production team about the annoying arty-farty football clips. JUST SHOW CLIPS IN NORMAL FOOTAGE. FF must have a self-indulgent techno geek in production. Get rid of him/her.


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