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Cheat sheets and chicken tikkas

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Dan Walker | 11:24 UK time, Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Mrs Walker and I are trying to eat a little healthier at the moment. For dinner on Monday, for example, we had grilled fish and stir-fried vegetables! About an hour later, I supplemented the meal with three Weetabix and two fingers of Fudge... epic fail.

In fact, I have failed miserably for the last few days. Our Football Focus trip to Portsmouth didn't help. We ate a fish and chip supper twice in two days, consumed a full English breakfast one morning and downed large amounts of cake before finishing off with a chicken tikka rogan josh and peshwari nan on Saturday night.

The sad news is that fig rolls are off the menu. I have gone 10 days without cracking open a packet. If it goes on any longer, I might need a "figarette" patch!

Other than the food issues, Focus on the road at Portsmouth went down very well. It was great to get three first-rate interviews on the programme... Wayne Rooney, Cesc Fabregas and Xabi Alonso are about as big as they come. Throw in rock band Stereophonics and you have the makings of a quality programme.

The only thing that annoyed me afterwards was that I forgot to mention Wolves against Birmingham when I was talking about the derbies on Sunday. The omission probably aggravated our brethren in the West Midlands area.

Anyway, I met producer Mark Golley in Portsmouth at 1000 on Friday. We were filming the opening to the programme with Carol, on camera, and Mike, the soundman, at the Spinnaker Tower down by the quayside. The very first shot was actually nicked off the BBC programme Coast - our Focus budget doesn't really stretch to helicopters.

Dan Walker's cheat sheetMy cheat sheet in all its glory

The rest of the Focus warriors - director, editor, production co-ordinators and floor manager - arrived about 2130 and, after grabbing some grub, I went about setting out the cheat sheet. The cheat sheet is something I use whenever Focus is on the road. I try to put everything I am going to do, and say, on the show on a single piece of paper.

I tend not to refer to it too much, but it's great to have as back-up. (Ever since I first started doing exams I have always been able to remember something for about 24 hours if I write it down the night before... very handy when you need to recall the atomic mass of potassium for GCSE Chemistry). The scripts go down the sides and the central area is for the fact column, which has fixtures, tables and a few salient facts to throw in if it all goes horribly wrong. You're right, it is a little odd and obsessive, but it works for me.

The next morning I was up at 0630, so I read through the cheat sheet one last time, had a power shower and read through the morning papers. Departure time was 0900, so at 0830 the editor, Mark Cole, and I went for breakfast to discuss the programme. I can't remember much of what we talked about, but the hash browns were legendary.

We arrived en masse at Fratton Park at 0930 and started watching all the finished pieces in the 'Outside Broadcast' truck just behind the North Stand. At 10, Gollio and I left to film the final part of the opening sequence before heading for the all-important rehearsal.

This is a bit different to a studio rehearsal because we have to make sure that the two cameras can get to where we need them to be, the wires are out of the way, the signal works and we then have enough time to reposition for the next live section back in the stadium. There isn't really any sprinting involved, but a brisk walk is occasionally required.

Mark Lawrenson and Steve Claridge arrived at about 1100. At 1150, the rehearsal finished, giving me about 15 minutes to have a final chat through with the editor, check that Portsmouth chief executive Peter Storrie and Kevin the kitman were OK to appear on the programme, and nail half a pack of Fruit Pastilles.

Everything went very smoothly during Focus, apart from the final live segment in the laundry room that almost never happened. We had to go down the tunnel to get there, but the security guards had changed and the yellow-jacketed bloke now on duty was having none of it. There was about 30 seconds of frantic negotiation before we were let through. My next step would have been to send in Lawro and Claridge, but thankfully it never got to that!

After the show, we had a few hours to kill before the game kicked off, so we decided to film another behind-the-scenes segment of Football Focus. This one is all about what happens in the 'Outside Broadcast' (OB) truck during the game and how you get the pictures back for Match Of The Day in the evening. I hope you enjoy it.

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  • Comment number 1.


    don't have time for comment today as it's noon here and I'm just off for local caught Tuna Sashimi (healthy) followed by Liver and bacon with mash and onion gravy (not so healthy)followed by sticky toffee pudding (deadly).

  • Comment number 2.

    BTW are you a mystic? After seeing Rooney get a Leeds shirt at OT, Man U are drawn at home to Leeds (hopefully) in Round 3.
    This means Rooney will get ANOTHER Leeds shirt when he exchanges with Beckford after the game (although Beckford will get the Match Ball, of course.

  • Comment number 3.

    hello. right now... i'm eating a fig roll. picture that. i also have a glass of milk next to me.

  • Comment number 4.

    Great Blog again Dan,

    Fig rolls are essential as part of a healthy eating programme. High in fibre, low in fat.

    On another subject. I've always wondered why they don't show the match time in the top corner of the screen during footy highlights (like Match of the Day). It would be useful to know the time that each of the incidents are happening or how many minutes are left at any point.

    Any ideas why its not shown?

  • Comment number 5.

    Evening all.

    Backinwhite (# 1 & 2) no mystical powers here but it is a strange coincidence isn't it? STP (with custard) is always a great way to finish off any meal. But don't get ahead of yourself brother... what about the powers of Kettering who could still steal that 3rd round place from under your Yorkshire noses?

    Drogba's Strawberry Bootlaces (#3) you are cruel and heartless... although I have to admit that cold milk makes the fig roll sing

    Pete the Chop (#4) I have an answer but I will just check I am not giving you duff information before I whack it down. I shall return after consulting the oracle tomorrow morning.

  • Comment number 6.

    Just back.

    Whilst Fratton park was on paper the grottiest ground in the top flight, I always had a great time there, whether coming back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 in the old second division, losing 4-0 when our only cheer was a missed Pompey penalty, losing 7-1 when being relegated, winning 5 (or was it 6)-1 after being 1-0 down in the cup. Never a dull moment and always a cracking atmosphere unlike Southampton's modern souless home. I used to park in St Mary's Hospital, and there was a cracking back street boozer (Meon Arms??) where a local baker would bring round fresh cooked pasties on a big cardboard tray around the bar. Brilliant.

  • Comment number 7.

    Read you blog and during the first sentence was already judging the book by its cover. 'Uhhh.' I thought, 'another missive about his food and his family... not footie.' How wrong I was.
    Interesting little Behind the Scenes Segment; you sound moderately articulate in front of the camera too. Most surprising all things considered.
    Gives me a reminder of what I am missing over here across the pond. Do you think you will ever ascend to the dizzy heights of providing radio commentary for any games? I would make a point of listening in if you did.
    I like the Sheffield Plate. See if you can persuade the Beeb to get one of those out to me, it would be very very helpful in the hide for tracking whitetails, a camera would just get in the way though.
    Also next time you plough through half a packet of fruit pastilles (why capitalize them?) think about swapping out for a box of jelly beans. They are great.
    Anyway I'd better get back to the books. I'm still moping about the gooners result on the weekend and the RVP disaster midweek.

  • Comment number 8.

    Interesting and different blog once again Dan,
    You don't seem that old, but nowadays you don't need to know the atomic mass/number of any element in GCSE Chemistry. It's all provided in a Periodic Table at the back of the exam paper- a 'cheat sheet' if you will, just one the examiners give you! But I'm sure you learnt more and are now a better person due to your memorising of the properties of the Group 1 elements.

  • Comment number 9.

    Good blog, Dan.

    Quick question though - now that the fig rolls have bitten the dust and the fact that the festive season is almost upon us, what is your seasonal sweet of choice? So much choice and such little time to consume the various sweets, cakes and pies. This is a far more important question than anything football-related, I feel...!

  • Comment number 10.

    i love this man's blog :-)

  • Comment number 11.

    Buenos Aires,

    I just watched Manchester City v Arsenal and quite enjoyed Wenger's lack of handshake rage at the end.

    backinwhite (#6) the idea of fresh cooked pasties has got me hungry. Just eaten some toast which in no way compares to the powers of a pasty. Glad you have some good memories of the south coast. I do like Fratton Park. It has a certain charm to it even though it is way short of the amenities we have come to expect from a top stadium.

    blaenorynyclwyd (#7) 'you sound moderately articulate in front of the camera' would you mind if I took that quote and sent it to my English teacher from secondary school? Commentary is no longer my game but I do occasionally appear on Radio 5 Live (when the other presenters have swine flu or are caught in snow-drifts).

    Torresque (#8) is that true about the periodic table on the back of the exam paper? That would explain why I struggled so much with science and everyone else found it a doddle. I wasted quite a few hours committing that to memory.

    brad_scott (#9) seasonal sweet of choice is 100% the mince pie. Home-baked efforts are winners but I don't mind a sneaky shop-bought half-dozen to get me through an afternoon. Do you concur?

  • Comment number 12.

    Hi Dan, enjoyed the delicious, although in some places lower calorie blog.

    Weetabix, oh dear, always reminded me of a bale of hay, aesthetically and taste wise.
    Love the "figarette" patch idea, surely a must for all who are looking to "kick the habit".
    A comment about your comment, (11) I too just watched the City v Arsenal game, not enjoyable as a gooner, although highly predictable seeing the team AW put out against a full strength City. The most dissapointing aspect for me was the refusal of AW to shake MH´s hand, and the reasoning of " "I'm free to shake hands with whoever I want."
    Whatever has transpired in the game, surely it´s only right to acknowledge your opponant at the end of the contest. This is just bad form from a man that I honestly expected better from. He´ll probably get slated in the press tomorrow, which is always a bad distraction.
    Congrats to City fans, you were easily the better team, see you next time at the Emirates against (hopefully) a full strength team.

  • Comment number 13.

    Dan...i want your job :D mmmm hash browns...

  • Comment number 14.

    Hi Dan,
    I was wondering, do t.v companies have to share cameras, electrical equipment and video footage for one match? I noticed how you were talking about all the "BBC's" microphones surrounding the pitch, does that mean espn or sky have their own mic's? Also if the BBC are filming the game how come they never put the highlights up on the BBC website or Match of The Day on Iplayer?

  • Comment number 15.

    I love this mans blog, always looking out for it. I take it the healthy mumbo jumbo is just for the few weeks until the calorie carnage that is Christmas. Fig rolls will be somewhat "garden salad" over the holiday season!

  • Comment number 16.

    I think i need to direct misguided foreigners who bemoan English food to your blogs Dan! Having traveled around a good portion of the World (70+ countries) i can honestly say that i crave t come home for our grub. It just can't be beaten.

    Fish and chips out of the wrapper, a pub lunch with a couple of cheeky pints, yorkshire puddings, lamb shanks, belly pork, bacon butties the list could go on forever - and i havent even touched the desserts.

    I am prone to a bit of trifle at xmas btw, i know its not everyones cup of tea, but blast some cream on top and it goes down a treat.

  • Comment number 17.

    Morning blog allies...

    Holloway2Holland (#11) I think you are right about Wenger... we should expect better from him. I know he's miffed because his team has lost but you expect someone of his intelligence to act with a bit of class - even when he doesn't want to. Good to hear from a gracious football fan as well... a welcome rarity.

    My-back-pocket (#12) If you want the job specifically for the access to hash-browns I think you need to question your motivation!

    Greg (#13) When I said 'BBC microphones' what I should have said was 'microphones that the BBC used to own but now gets from a company that it outsources it's outside broadcasts to'. Although there will be a number of BBC employees at an OB, most of them will be working for a company called SIS (and most of them used to work for the BBC). As far as I know ESPN and Sky do the same thing. As for the iplayer question, that is a permanent frustration for Football Focus as well. We are not allowed to go on the iplayer because of the rights issues with the footage that we show from matches. It's rather annoying but something that - sadly - we have to put up with.

    Irish Rss Are Smiling (#15) I am greatly enjoying your food-based alliteration and you're right... calorie carnage is only a few weeks away as I am sure Phil (#16) knows only too well from his impressive travels around God's fine globe.

  • Comment number 18.

    Dan, 'Figarette' Reminds me of me and a friends drunken idea to start a company who do Cigarrete Advent Calendars... Its a winner..

    Off topic Dan but you are saying you have a good memory and do a lot of the show by memory.. Why, in your opinion, at award shows like the Oscars do actors (who's job is mainly to memorise lines) have to read a 30 sec segment from a prompter.. making the whole segment wooden and painful?? Off topic but something that bothers me.

  • Comment number 19.

    #12 I think to much is made of the handshake at the end of a game...
    people make out like its a massive issue, and how its bad forms to not shake hands...
    well to be honest, if there's people i dont like, i dont wana shake there hand... If ferguson and rafra dont like or respect each other, then why shake hands...
    i understand its a sporting gesture, gentlemanly - but the game has changed dramatically since it was founded and it isnt a gentlemanly sport anymore, far to much pettiness - diving, trying to get people booked etc. etc.

  • Comment number 20.

    Another good blod Dan, standardly filled with a mixture of gastronomical chit chat and footbal fracas.....

    I'd love to work with the SIS Live guys, they do such cool stuff. As I mentioned before, one of my mates works for them and I am extremely jealous of the jobs he gets to do! Beijing for 3 weeks to film the Olympics and Qatar for the Asian Games are just a couple of the crazy places his job has taken him to, so far! I reckon he'll get to go to South Africa for the World Cup for sure, will you be likely to get a little slot doing World Cup Focus?

    Oh, and by the way, that cheat sheet is bordering on a form of OCD. Everything has it's own little section!

  • Comment number 21.

    Good blog again.

    Regarding the picture of you in the car park though, I can't help but imagine off camera somewhere is Alan Partridge shouting "DAN, DAN, DAN!!"

    Lynx? Java. Well smelt.

  • Comment number 22.

    As one of the West Midlands brethren I can confirm that I did feel slightly aggrieved that the Wolves/Birmingham derby wasn't mentioned, but the smaller and more unfashionable clubs, or basically any team outside the big four plus the usual challengers, often get treated like the second class citizens that we probably are.
    I am a Birmingham fan incidentally, and belive that we might stay up this year more because there are some quite poor teams in the premier league at the moment rather than our own good play.
    Hash browns complete a breakfast in my eyes, but it's the sausage that determines the quality. Cumberland for me, but not lincolnshore, that is a lunch/dinner sausage.

  • Comment number 23.

    5,4,3,2,1 stop talking sausages.

  • Comment number 24.

    Hello Dan, a whole two weeks without a response from me...I hope you've coped.

    Interesting to hear what you said about Rooney, and how difficult he could be to interview in his early days. What is the contrast with him and Fabregas. Fabregas always seems to have spoken well which is a great achievement considering he is spanish.

    Do you think Rooney would have coped moving to a top Spanish side in his early teens and developing there? Also, if that had been the case do you think he would be the player he is today?

  • Comment number 25.

    ^^^^^^^^ Great question....

  • Comment number 26.

    I dont personally think Rooney would have coped, he was very young when he moved to United from Everton. I think being on British soil and playing Premier League football definitely harnessed his talent in to what he has become today.

    Plus, I reckon he'd burn in the sun on a daily basis.....

  • Comment number 27.

    Dan, thanks for your response re. my post #9. I very much agree with the choice of mince pie, although I do tend to lean myself towards the chocolate yule log. And the tins of sweets. And the Chritsmas cake. Oh dear, I'm noticing a trend here. Nothing better than watching all the Boxing Day action than with a few treats and a glass of something tasty. This is getting all a bit too festive, I'm off to buy my first box of mince pies of the year. Hmm...

  • Comment number 28.

    Harnessed his talent into what he has become today?

    Personally I think he was a better player 5 years ago then he is now.

  • Comment number 29.

    26. At 09:30am on 03 Dec 2009, Researcher 14078314 wrote:
    Plus, I reckon he'd burn in the sun on a daily basis.....

    LOL - ignoring his obvious fair skin, receding hairline ailments!! I meant culturally, would he have swapped his sausage mash and beans for Paella and patatas bravas?

    Wenger says he likes to involve himself and his players in the culture of where they he eats a sunday roast dinner.

  • Comment number 30.

    28. At 09:51am on 03 Dec 2009, Andrew wrote:
    Harnessed his talent into what he has become today?

    Personally I think he was a better player 5 years ago then he is now.

    As an everton fan, yes I would argue the potential he showed with us, and with england in 2004 has not yet been realised. He has been restricted a bit at United...just put him on the team sheet and let him play

  • Comment number 31.

    Peshwari naan? I'm not convinced. It has to be keema; who'd choose the bread that isn't stuffed with meat?!

  • Comment number 32.

    I dont know why my name is coming up as Researcher 14078314, I'm logged in dammit!

    I think Rooney has been a great player from day dot. I don't think he has necessarily been restricted at United, I think he has been played in positions that don't suit him naturally i.e Left Midfield last season. The beauty of Rooney's game is, you could play him Full Back, Centre Mid or Centre Forward and he would give you as much passion and effort in each role.

    That's the talent.....

  • Comment number 33.

    Rooney at Barca...he'd at least have some variety.

  • Comment number 34.


    lol Dan i really wouldnt want to wake up at 6:30am..i have trouble getting up for lectures at 1pm... :D

    'chicken tikka rogan josh' eh?..hmmm next time u order one ask them to make it 'apna style' for you if its an indian takeaway your ordering from, just a little tip for ya ;) trust me tastes 100x better.

  • Comment number 35.

    So you had a peshwari nan, not a peshwari naan? Feeling a little lonely on your trip away?

  • Comment number 36.

    Dan, As food dominates this weeks blog...I share the fig roll addiction, I have gone two weeks without one. I have realised that the pastry is the evil part of the snack so I am now on the hard-core snack...dried figs (available from all good health food shops!)
    I was pleased with myself today a I had a mixed bean and tomato salad in a light mint dressing and arranged my gym visit for after work. Did you know that if you eat an apple before each meal you consume 171 less calories....I am confused as some my meals are just apples? Does that mean I will lose weight in degrees of 171 calories if I just eat apples?

  • Comment number 37.

    #4 this is the answer giving on the bbc website as ive often wondered the same. Hope this helps



    A clock on each Match of the Day edit would require a separate graphics operation to superimpose the time live on each game. At present one graphics source puts the graphics on all matches once they're edited. Any changes would therefore be very costly. It would also lead to the clock jumping dozens of times during an edit as we pull up close-ups, replays and set pieces.


  • Comment number 38.

    My first thoughts were that Rooney would throw that Leeds shirt in the bin as soon as he got home! Also, Dan, that's all good food, who needs healthy food when that food is there for a be eaten!

  • Comment number 39.

    Right - plenty to address.

    First up, thanks to Buckfast-Wine (#37) for the stock answer to Pete the Chop's question (#4) about clocks on the match edit. I couldn't have put in better myself.

    Mikey (#18) no idea why actors go all wooden at the Oscars. Maybe they just can't be bothered! If they watched it back they'd realise how ridiculous they look.

    PepeXabiBarnes (#19) I know what you mean but I really think we should be trying our hardest to keep the gentlemenly conduct in football.

    Researcher 14078314 (#20) Nothing wrong with a bit of OCD!

    Andrew (#21) I loved that Partridge Episode when it came out. I am now beginning to wish that it never happened. Still makes me giggle though. DAN!

    DiddyDavidHamilton(#22) Again, sorry I missed you off. It was on the cheat sheet but it slipped my mind. I will remember the Lincolnshire sausage advice... steer clear at breakfast.

    t campbell (#24) I have been waking up in the middle of the night checking the blog for your comments (!££@~:@:@:""!) Fabregas is a really great talker and spectacularly well-spoken. There are few that compare in honesty and on the subject of Rooney abroad: I think he has been quite honest on this issue. He is a home-boy at heart and likes to be around people he knows. I don't think that Spain would have worked for him but, then again, I was convinced that Greece were utterly hopeless before Euro 2004.

    brad_scott (#27) the chocolate yule log is indeed a fearsome creature... only once a year though. If I get really excited over the next few weeks we might have to have a vote for the top 5 Christmas nuts!

    Researcher 14103457 (#31) Surely there is enough meat in the curry to accompany it with more meat via the naan? Peshwari all the way brother! And yellow card for rosinha85 (#35). Well done for spotting the spelling issue though.

    My-back-pocket (#34) excellent apna-style recommendation... I will try it out and finally to the staggering apple news from Flamboroughboy (#38). I can't get my head around your apple maths but, if it's true, it's the sort of news that could change the world.

  • Comment number 40.

    Another good blog Dan. It's good to see you present the shows at 'real' football grounds - No disrespect to Old Trafford and The Emerites but they don't do it for me!

    On another note, I was in the pub the other night and someone mentioned something he'd seen on an earlier FF show - It was to do with England easiest and hardest possible ground for the World Cup, He then couldn't for the life of him think of these groups - Any help there would be appreciated.

  • Comment number 41.

    Obviously that's Group and not Ground - It's been a long day!

  • Comment number 42.

    Interesting Dan, perhaps you could analyse footballs most intellegent participants...I know Clarke Carlisle has done bits with the BBC. Yes he's got a very high I.Q but I feel he tries a little hard at times to include long words in his analysis, and it doesn't sound very natural.

    Hahaha - Top 5 christmas nuts...i'll allow everybody to argue out positions 2-5 as the number 1 nut is and always be a Walnut at christmas. Best supplemented with marshmallow and chocolate in the form of a walnut whip.

  • Comment number 43.

    Dan - by jove I think you've got it! A list of top 10 Christmas sweets and nuts to consume whilst watching all of the festive football. It can't fail.
    On another note, and apologies if you've answered this earlier, but what do you make of Arsène Wenger's refusal to shake Mark Hughes' hand last night? Being a Gooner I'm a bit disappointed but doesn't come as a surprise to me, it's not the first time he's been a sore loser and sadly I can't see it being the last either.

  • Comment number 44.


    As a human being I believe that Wenger freely exercised the right to shake hands with whoever he wants.

    Wenger has won more in a season than Hughes has in his entire managerial career, so If respect is to be handed out, it should be from Hughes to Wenger. Maybe he should ask himself why somebody does not want to shake his hand??

    I saw an interview with the ever amiable Steve Bruce who stated that altough him and hughes were "great team mates" they were never "great friends" why I wonder?

  • Comment number 45.


    Are you going to do anything on tomorrow's World Cup draw? You haven't wangled a trip to Cape Town, obviously. Funny how FIFA chose Cape Town out of all the cities they could have gone to..
    I'll be watching it at lunchtine our time (how convenient), with Dave Webb who is over here looking to buy a place.
    Xmas Nuts? Chocolate covered Brazils every time!

  • Comment number 46.


    Fair point. I did not look at it that way at all and can certainly see where you are coming from. To follow on from that, someone raised the point last night of Wenger still fielding these weakend teams in the Carling Cup. I admire his principles but do you not think at the quarter-final stage of a cup competition it's in his, the teams, and the supporters interests to field the strongest side possible? Obviously Wenger wants to blood the youngers but seeing as he hasn't won a trophy since 2005, is it not fair to suggest that he hasn't won enough trophies of late to justify the selections of these youngesters in the league cup anymore?

  • Comment number 47.

    Erm surely hot raost chesnuts with a bit of salt top the list.

  • Comment number 48.

    At pain of opening up the whole 'Is TV's Dan Walker Boasting About Living The Celebrity Lifestyle' debate again, is Dan aware that there is a Facebook group (already) campaigning for him to be given the MOTD job? First Twitter, now this - it can only be a matter of time before he spends all his time at charity football tournaments with Bradley from S Club 7 and Dean Gaffney.

    Great behind the scenes video this week, Dan. The kit on show was pretty sexy, although I think your fans demand some form of TV's Dan Walker On His Favourite Foods Of The World video blog. I once lived with a guy who used to munch on whole raw green peppers whilst stood in the living room in his dressing gown. I take it that's not the Walker style.

  • Comment number 49.


    good point, and something i've mulled over myself. Perhaps it is some form of defense mechanism. If he goes full stregth and loses, his team are judged against this directly. When the reserve side are outed, he can hide behind the fact they are the second string and using this for development.

  • Comment number 50.

    @ 46

    bit of kick in the teeth for the youngsters that have got the team that far in the cup, only to be told ' thanks for getting us here lads, but we'll let the proper players take it from go get us a cuppa tea Merida there's a good lad'

    i hope Sir Alex stick's with the same players against the blues when we play em in january.

  • Comment number 51.

    As much as I like Dan, Lineker is one of my all time England heroes, and I like to see him on MOTD muchly

  • Comment number 52.

    I wonder if Arsenal will cease the cropping of youngsters when Wenger leaves, I hope they keep them going because they have a top notch academy, what do you think?

  • Comment number 53.

    Just about to have some tea but I thought I would jump in with some answers...

    FN (#40) Just had a check and the hardest group was...
    ENGLAND, NETHERLANDS, USA and IVORY COAST and the easy option was...
    ENGLAND, SWITZERLAND, NEW ZEALAND and ALGERIA. Let's all hope for number 2.

    On the subject of the draw backinwhite (#45) we are going big on it. Gareth Southgate and Dwight Yorke will be alongside Mr Lawrenson this Saturday and we'll also get the verdict of Mr Shearer and Mr Lineker. There was talk of Focus live in Cape Town but sadly the budget issues ruled that one out early on. Garth and Jonathan Pearce have gone over instead.

    t campbell (#42) Clarke Carlisle is a clever bloke but I thought Matt Holland came across all brain-celled up recently and Stuart Ripley was always an intelligent customer.

    Some excellent early entries for nut of the year 2009. Walnut (t campbell), roast chesnut (andrew) and the brazil (backinwhite) are all significant options but I feel we need a proper list. Give me a few weeks and we'll go for it.

    And Sausagearms (#48) incredible news about the Facebook group. I wasn't aware of it. Does that mean I can now start talking about myself in the 3rd person? I can confirm that I have never played football with Dean Gaffney although I did get a little run out at Wembley recently alongside McFly... does that count? I may well blog about that in the future. I agree with t campbell though (#51) Lineker is a legend and I don't think he has any plans to cut the microphone cord just yet.

  • Comment number 54.

    Thanks alot Dan, Indeed lets hope for group number two - I look forward to next week's blog.

  • Comment number 55.

    53. At 6:08pm on 03 Dec 2009, Dan Walker wrote:
    Just about to have some tea but I thought I would jump in with some answers...

    FN (#40) Just had a check and the hardest group was...
    Sorry Dan mate, but that can't happen.
    The Netherlands are in the top seeds, therefore can not be drawn against England, although Portugal or France could.

  • Comment number 56.

    You are indeed correct Holloway2Holland (#54). Let me explain. This was on Football Focus last week when England were not - at that point - a top seed.

    There was - at that point - a chance that they could be 9th and therefore be in pot 2. This was a worst case scenario at the time. We now know it could not happen. I admire your attention to detail.

    I think everyone has now fallen asleep.

  • Comment number 57.

    I meant #55 of course. A few maths issues here.

  • Comment number 58.

    For those who are still awake;
    Pot 1 (seeds): South Africa, Brazil, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Argentina, England

    Pot 2 (Asia, Oceania and North/Central America): Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Australia, New Zealand, United States, Mexico, Honduras

    Pot 3 (Africa and South America): Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria, Algeria, Paraguay, Chile, Uruguay

    Pot 4 (Europe): France, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland, Greece, Serbia, Denmark, Slovakia
    Just to stay on topic, I'm unfortunatly allergic to most nuts, but mince pies go down a treat and a good ol' traditional (nutless) Christmas Pudding, heavy on the rum and brandy is a must for the yule tide munchies.

  • Comment number 59.

    If we're talking nuts at Christmas - sugared almonds, anyone?

  • Comment number 60.

    The world cup this year will be amazing, although I'm Scottish I still see England going a long way. I ate a mince pie earlier on, I didn't realise how much I genuinely hate them!

  • Comment number 61.

    Mince pies are a little over-hyped I reckon. Realistically, would you eat the mincemeat straight from the jar? Of course not, that would be hideous. In fact, all Christmas desserts - mince pies, Christmas pudding and Christmas, are all rank. Bah, humbug.

    Looking forward to the draw tomorrow. As a non-English man, my main interest lies in which seeds get France and Portugal. How on Earth are they dragging the thing out for 90 minutes though? Bet it'll be frustratingly dull waiting for it to start.

  • Comment number 62.

    # 61 How on Earth are they dragging the thing out for 90 minutes though? Bet it'll be frustratingly dull waiting for it to start.


    90 Minutes? Is that all...!? The y drag the Champions League draw out for about that long each year so I was expecting at least 3 hours for the World Cup?

    90 minutes eh? That'll be barely time to nail a four pack.

  • Comment number 63.

    As far as the draw goes. It shouldn't really matter if England draw one other major team (Portugal, France etc.), as long as they have two minor teams (Algeria, NZ etc.). What they don't want is two other big teams in the group.

  • Comment number 64.

    Excellent pot information Holloway2Holland (#58). Very sad news about your nut allergy... perhaps the saddest news I have heard this week.

    John_Partick_Thistle (#60) The rules for this blog clearly state that you are not allowed to comment if you don't like mince pies. Sorry about that but them be the rules.

    Like you, anightatthechopra (#61) I am dreading the 90 minute draw. I am sure there will be singing children and political types chatting freely when all we really want is for someone to get busy with the balls.

  • Comment number 65.

    Hahaha, that would be a really tragic rule.

  • Comment number 66.

    You know, there should be no food-based rules at all concerning participation in this blog!
    I do not say that out of some rabid desire to be politically correct and avoid discriminating against the mince -pie challenged (John_Partick_Thistle and his gang), you can shove you PC ideas as far as I am concerned. Something far more important is at stake than neutering the nation with PC rules; namely my stomach.
    I read about you guys bantering away about Weetabix and fruit pastilles (note no captials) and now mince pies and I just feel my loss all the more keenly. At least holloway2holland can get hold of these things. I can't over here in the USA unless I pay an arm and a leg. I have just ordered my Christmas pudding and Christmas cake but it costs me an arm and leg for something the size of a cricket ball.
    My stomach is rumbling just thinking about these delectables.
    Dan are you sure you can't get the Been to send me some Garribalis? I paid my license fee for years.
    Anyway, whining session over now.

  • Comment number 67.

    woops typo there, I meant "Dan, are you sure you cant get the Beeb...."

  • Comment number 68.

    66. At 5:24pm on 04 Dec 2009, blaenorynyclwyd wrote

    You know, there should be no food-based rules at all concerning participation in this blog!
    I do not say that out of some rabid desire to be politically correct and avoid discriminating against the mince -pie challenged (John_Partick_Thistle and his gang), you can shove you PC ideas as far as I am concerned. Something far more important is at stake than neutering the nation with PC rules; namely my stomach.
    If were talking about food, than maybe there's something far more important at steak? ;p

    If it makes you feel any better, the traditional U.K Xmas goodies are pretty pricey over here too mate, maybe it dosen't quite cost "an arm and a leg", more like a few fingers and toes, none the less, not cheap.

    ps Nice draw for England in the WC, Holland didn't fair too bad either. Roll on June.

  • Comment number 69.

    Everyone is going on about Group G... I think the Germans have got it tough in D. Not that I am complaining though.

  • Comment number 70.

    Oh and by the way blaenorynyclwyd. You choose to live over there... you miss out on the mince pies. I've just had a late night one with a glass of milk. Perfect.

  • Comment number 71.


    That's always good to eat healthy...And, thanks for the
    start of your blog...


  • Comment number 72.

    Another easy draw for England. Unfortunately Sloviena took our spot in Englands group (us being Norn Iron of course).

    We would have thaught Rooney and the boys another lesson about how to play football ..... 7 Sept 2005 ........

    With Fabio Capello running the show I'm glad to see someone who'll take no rubbish from the squad and as a result England might just surprise themselves. and yes I would like to England do really well. Lets hope the big names stay injury free and fit until July.


  • Comment number 73.

    Late addition to the Christmas food saga.
    I love living over here Dan the man. It is brilliant, but I do miss the Christmas food and the footie.
    I do not miss family, I do not miss the weather, I do not miss the irritating BBC license fee, I do not miss the politics, I do not miss loads of stuff. But I do miss the food.
    Jelly beans, are good over here though. There are four main manufacturers if you count the various stores 'own -cheapy-cheapy- brands' as one ubiquitous type. You guys should hunt around a bit for them and try them. They are the ultimate travel food, well.... after Garibaldi bickies that is but we won't talk about them either...

    Several questions I am going to throw out there (not trying to hijack your blog Dan the Man).
    1. Who should Arsene (I have a problem with Manchester) Wenger buy in Jan to sit up front and bang in the goals?
    2. Is it possible to win the premiership without a defensive midfielder? If so How?


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