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Flight drama for Focus

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Dan Walker | 12:30 UK time, Wednesday, 7 April 2010

I am off to Barcelona and Milan this week to do a spot of filming in the company of some very important people.

After spending a few hours with Barca president Joan Laporta and interviewing a few players, I fly to Milan for Clarence Seedorf's charity bash, where I will hopefully grab a word with some significant football faces.

I think this might qualify as the most showbiz week of my life, eclipsing the time I interviewed Dannii Minogue and The Chuckle Brothers in the space of three days.

Luton AirportLuton Airport - the scene of potential problems for Alan Hansen

I hope our European adventure will make an interesting blog for next week but I thought I would give you a bit of an insight into last week's programme in the meantime.

If you've watched Focus for a while, you'll know Alan Hansen makes one appearance on the sofa for us toward the end of each season. Last Saturday was that day, but it almost didn't happen.

"I've been re-directed to Luton," came the quite worrying text from the nation's favourite pundit at about 0915 BST on the morning of the show.

A quick check on the wonder web revealed that his budget flight would need refuelling before flying on to Heathrow - way too late to make it for Focus.

"You've got to get off that plane," is a text message I've wanted to send since watching Die Hard 2.

We had visions of Hansen removing ceiling panels in the toilets, shuffling through luggage and finally shinning his way down a refuelling pipe.

Sadly, it was a lot duller than that. He told a steward from BA that he needed to get off and the bloke opened the door.

Hansen still arrived much later than normal, and it wasn't until 1203 (I remember because there was a crème egg next to the clock) that editor Mark Cole and I were able to run him, and Lee Dixon, through our plans for the programme.

I could tell they were both in a rather mischievous mood.

From the minute we sat down, Hansen was ribbing Dixon about taking a sheet of paper in with him on which were written the remaining games of both Burnley and West Ham.

Hansen is of the opinion that if you can't remember something, it's not worth it. Lee is more of a "fail to prepare, prepare to fail" type of human.

I introduced them at the top of the show by saying they had 12 league titles between them.

Hansen did not waste little time jumping in. "How did you get to 12?" he asked on air. "I've got nine." "And I've got five!' added Dixon.

What followed was some furious fact checking while the pundits mumbled about dropping standards at the BBC.

We were then scheduled to talk about the upcoming Manchester United-Chelsea game for the next three minutes.

Didier Drogba scores Chelsea's winnerChelsea's game against Manchester United was among the topics up for discussion

I was still trying to get a prediction out of Alan well into minute number four. "Time to move on," said the editor in my ear. I pressed Hansen again... "I'll tell you before the end of the programme," was his response.

The second chat was just as lengthy but it was good stuff.

When I asked Hansen if he thought Martin O'Neill would leave Villa in the summer, given all the midweek speculation that had gone on, he gave me the "Scottish look".

It's the same one that Gordon Strachan has spent years perfecting and David Moyes uses in almost every post-match interview.

Hansen then had another go at me for not knowing how many titles either he or Dixon had won. "Where's your research?" he growled.

I stuck to my guns before he finally declared that he was just messing about and he had in fact won eight league titles while Dixon had picked up four. I think that is the closest I have ever come to dressing-room banter with two professional footballers.

When I go in next week, they'll have probably tied my shoelaces together and urinated in my gym bag.

By this point, valuable seconds were being shaved off everywhere to make sure we hit our 1300 deadline.

"Ten seconds to closing link," said production assistant Rachel Paterson in my ear as Hansen began telling us why Alex McLeish should win the manager of the year award.

Like the professional he is, Hansen made his point perfectly and we said "goodbye" just as we were told to "stop talking".

"I enjoyed that," announced Hansen as he removed his microphone and strolled towards the office to watch the rest of the Manchester United - Chelsea game with his Match Of The Day brothers - Gary Lineker and Mark Lawrenson.

On the subject of Hansen, I was alerted via Twitter recently about Hansen's sporting prowess as a youngster. Apparently, he played both volleyball and squash for Scotland.

It got me thinking. A few blogs ago, we discussed our greatest sporting moments. So this week let's do those sporting incidents you wouldn't mind disappearing without a trace.

I once took the British number two to three games in table tennis. It sounds impressive until I tell you that she was six and I was in my prime at 21!

Feel free to fill the coffin with your own aberrations.

You can follow me on Twitter at


  • Comment number 1.

    Why do you always refer to your co presenters by their surnames?

  • Comment number 2.

    Lets be honest Dan, the Chuckle Brothers are the pinnacle of the celebrity world, nothing could eclipse meeting Barry and Paul...

  • Comment number 3.

    Excellent work. Who did Hansen say would win the Man united Chelsea game??

  • Comment number 4.

    I know there's always one pedant in a comments section, but Barcelona's president is called JOAN Laporta not Juan. I know that normally that's not such a big deal, but given his politics he would be pretty insulted to be called by the Spanish name Juan!!

  • Comment number 5.

    After the revelations that came out about the seedy chuckle did you meet them in a car park at a motorway service station?? Dannii though Wowser!

    Seedorf segment should be decent as he has always come accross well in interviews and (if I remember correctly) does a lot of charity work... a good clip of him is on youtube.. he gets absolutely rinsed in a slide tackle by an 8 year old boy.. who turns out to be the son of Paolo Maldini.. fairly funny.

    Tony Yeboah

  • Comment number 6.

    Mr. Dan Motson,
    Thanks for the blog, interesting as usual.
    Once again the talking heads give you stick. Wish I could see it...
    Hope your flights to Barcelona and Milan do not need to be refuelled half way like Mr. Hansen's. I look forward to reading the blog.
    My saddest sporting moment was when I got bowled out by the slowest bowler I have ever faced. The delivery was a yorker, right there in the block hole, but barely had the velocity to reach me. I was in my twenties trying to impress some ladies, the bowler was a ten year old in the class I taught.
    I also taught in Spain for a bit. Barcelona is brilliant. Catalonia is impressive all round. Still preferred the Pyrenees though. Never been to Italy though planned a trip to Mount Etna in 2001. Ended up in South Carlonia.
    Have a good time on the continent, family goign with you or are you on your tod?

  • Comment number 7.

    How were the Easter eggs and have you eaten them all yet?

    Pat Van Den Hauwe

  • Comment number 8.

    Chuckle Brothers are incredible! Speaking of which I once met Gary Neville at a wedding in a cheshire hotel. He was a genuinelly nice guy and had plenty of time to chat to us despite some of our family being citeh fans.

    Greatest sporting moment, finishing 14th in school cross country and then 24th in the following county trials!

  • Comment number 9.

    Evening all. Currently in barcelona after laporta rearranged for tomorrow! Might have to abandon the Milan end of things.

    Anyway. Ricky66 (#1) I don't know... I always like a bit of formality.

    Feed the goat (#2) you're not wrong about the brothers chuckle. They always top the bill.

    Hold on...

  • Comment number 10.

    Getting bowled behind my legs by a slow ball from a friend who fancied himself as the English Shane Warne! I watched the ball in slow motion as I thought it would miss everything before it caught something on the matting (artificial cricket net) and moved back, hitting my leg stump!

    Cue celebrations from him, and some embarrassment from me!

    How long did the creme egg survive before it was scoffed?

    Ivo Stas

  • Comment number 11.

    Back again... Just spilt a carton of um bongo!

    Bucks_is_Leeds (#3) Hansen went for united in the end. Ooooops!

    LUFCparis (#4) you are spot on. Your pedantry is appreciated. I shall try and get it changed. Thanks.

    Mikey (#5) you are right about seedorf. Unfortunate first name but top bloke.

    Blaenorynclwyd (#6) I am flying solo bro.

    Custodian (#7) they were great but not enough of them. Just the wrappers remain.

    If you want to see some pictures from the barca training ground today then have a butchers at my Twitter thing.

    See you soon

    Francis Benali

  • Comment number 12.

    I once took the British number one to three games in table tennis. It sounds impressive until I tell you that she was forty-six and I was in my prime at 16! ... it was also best of five games :(

  • Comment number 13.

    My worst sporting moment has to be coming into school on sports day to be told i had been volunteered to represent my class in the hurdles.
    Seen as I was volunteered for entertainment purposes, it was expected that i would just run into every single hurdle and embarass my self, I thought 'Ill show them'. And I did

    I managed to clear the first one!

    Oh my not so athletic youth!


    Lots of love

    Michael Laudrup

  • Comment number 14.

    "A quick check on the wonder web revealed that his budget flight would need refuelling............He told a steward from BA that he needed to get off and the bloke opened the door."

    Budget Airline BA? Wow, that strike has seriously harmed British Airways. And which Budget Airline flies into Heathrow? I'm confused?

  • Comment number 15.

    Whilst chatting up a gorgeous young girl when I was fielding on the long leg boundary, I was distracted by shouts of "Catch it!". Turning I saw the ball looping towards me and in my panic managed to overrun it, letting it land behind me and the batsmen take three runs. After hurling the ball back in the most macho way I could to the jeers of my team mates, I turned back to the girl only to see her walking away as fast as possible.
    C'est l'amour, c'est la guerre.

    Frank Strandli

  • Comment number 16.

    Hi Dan, great blog.

    My worst sporting moment ever was after I won the South Norfolk 1500m race in my last year at middle school. Having been in the top two I qualified for the Norfolk County final. Well a few days before the final, my PE teacher told me that there was no final for the 1500m! I was dissappointed, but not too cut up. Well a few months later, I began at secondary school. The boy who came 3rd in that race (who was from another middle school) came and asked me why I didn`t run in the final. In fact he had been asked to take my place, as I didn`t turn up. He only went and won the final! I was gutted. If I had won the final, so then it was the southern England trials, and then the national trials, and then the europeans, and worlds, Olympics, world name it. Not to mention all that prize money, and fame and fortune, and guesting on Football Focus talking about my favourite footy team, Liverpool. But I am not bitter against my PE teacher :)

  • Comment number 17.

    Hi Dan,
    I have to take issue with the "nation's favourite pundit" line - I don't remember there ever being one of those Bank Holiday Monday style programmes counting down from 100-1 with the like of Anne Robinson and Phil Jupitus giving us hilarious anecdotes about each entry ...

    Afraid to say I find Mr Hansen (and his MOTD mate Mr Lawrenson) extremely irritating, and Hansen and Dixon's joshing about 15 titles must have had you all rolling around with laughter, eh?

    Trevor Hockey

  • Comment number 18.

    Worst moment possibly being in goal during games and getting knocked sparko by a shot that ricocheted off the post and straight into my mush!

    Erland Johnsen

  • Comment number 19.

    Hi Dan,
    Mr.Hansen seems like a bit of a bully from what you say doesn't he?

    Your Martin O'Neill question was great and fully justified as the two are close pals. I appreciate most of what you said in your blog was in jest, but having these ex-footballers on board is because of their footie knowledge and contacts.
    I'm sure it wont stop Martin joining up with the Beeb for the World Cup like in Germany!

    You are the fans conduit to what's really going be brave and continue to ask the questions us fans want to know.

    As for Mr.Laporta keeping you hanging around..shame on him - give him some tricky questions not just the usual Messi lovein - he wont be around much longer as Barca President anyway so tell him if he's good you might put a kind word in for him a job on the sofa for Focus/MOTD/or the World Cup panel..keep Alan and Martin on their toes ;)

  • Comment number 20.

    Not necessarily embarrassing, but my least favourite sporting moment was in goal once at five a side. I'd been playing a blinder, when a shot came in from the left, I got a hand to the ball but it span in beating me at the near post.

    Of course, it also resulted in a broken little finger (I still finished the match...) Good times.

    Steve Ogrizovic

  • Comment number 21.

    "I once took the British number two to three games in table tennis. It sounds impressive until I tell you that she was six and I was in my prime at 21!"

    And that was the BRITISH no.2! What kind of paunch were you wearing at 21yo??!

    (You sure that wasn't pétanque you were playing?)

  • Comment number 22.


    Shame you couldn't hang around in Barcelona for Saturday night's match, whereas if I was invited to the Milan match, I would make my excuses and leave.

    Don't think Hansen would have been too impressed with the defending for Bayern's two goals on Wednesday though.

    20) Whats this about Oggy breaking his finger? Are you sure it wasn't that Oggy bashing bully Ian Wright standing on it?

  • Comment number 23.

    Hi Dan. First off...was Hansen drunk last week? He looked a little detatched from his normal cool exterior. This made me think of past drunk appearances from guests and pundits. Remember Flintoff pitch side before England vs Paraguay in 2006, a shame you cannot get hold of that clip anywhere (any help with this dan)? There was also a Germany game during that tournament where it seemed Shearer had indulged in an all day session right before turning upto the studio for the evening kick off.

    Secondly, i'm looking forward to anything I see regarding Laporta. I think the BBC did a documentary about him during his presidency election circa 2003/2004...a great piece of television.

    Also, Footballers outside sporting prowess. Wasn't Peter Schmeichel an international Handball player in Denmark. I'm sure Clive Allen was also once an American NFL Football star?

    Ned Zelic

  • Comment number 24.

    To make it more like Die Hard 2 you'd have had to page Hansen and then wait for him to ring you back off a stupidly large hand set from the plane.

  • Comment number 25.

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

  • Comment number 26.

    My worst moment came three years ago, playing five aside. On the opposition side was a little french bloke, who had skills to spare. Try as I might I just couldn't get the ball off him. Frustrated at my lack of success, I took an almighty swing at the ball. He was too quick and too clever. He rolled the ball away and left his foot up. I toe ended the bottom of his boot, and crunch! There goes my big toe.

    Thinking it might just be bruising, I decide to go in goal. After a few minutes there Big guy on the left comes hairing towards the goal. When I saw Big, I mean Lennox Lewis big, legs like tree trunks. I get to the edge of the area to close the angle. He lets fly with an amighty strike that has everything behind it. It's going to my right and I instinctively stick out the right hand. Unfortunately not instinctive enough to go palm outwards, but palm down. The ball hits the end of my thumb. Crunch! and that's gone as well. Find out the next day, I'd broken both toe and thumb, after 32 years of never having broken anything. To make matters worse, Big guy's an Arsenal fan.

    Gudni Bergsson

  • Comment number 27.

    I once came in first place for annual school cross country, proceeded to go mental with celebration only to be told I'd been demoted to second place after going round the wrong side of a tree. It was the last bloody tree before the home staright aswell. I felt like a right Barry Chuckle after that one...

    Samassi Abou

  • Comment number 28.

    Another whinge I'm afraid Dan. No mention of Saints JPT win on Focus last week, not even in 7 days. And then Brighton v Saints was the only match not to have the goals on The Football league Show last Saturday. Is BBC Sport full of Pompey fans?

  • Comment number 29.

    I'm sure I recall a mention for Southampton winning the paint pot on Football Focus? Not kept it on the Sky box so can't be 100% sure but pretty confident that they did.

  • Comment number 30.

    Francis Benali

  • Comment number 31.


    Just got back from Barcelona last night. The piece on Saturday's programme should be a good watch with loads of big names in it. Until then, let's get to these comments.

    Spigz (#12) You never lose it.

    Andy Connor (#13) At least you can laugh about it now.

    Killasafc (#14) It does sound very confusing doesn’t it? I think the intention was to suggest that he was on a budget flight rather than a budget airline.

    Backinwhite (#15) Just think what a beautiful relationship that could have been if you’d have caught it majestically.

    Robokopthe3rd (#16) You was robbed son! That pesky PE teacher.

    Eusebio70 (#17) I know these things are all very subjective but Hansen is regularly voted the best in the business so I thought I could throw it out there.
    I see the way you followed the age old tradition of using the word ‘joshing’ to deride behaviour. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of fun sometimes.

    JoC (#19) I think bully might be a bit strong. I think he just enjoys a verbal joust. I won’t stop asking the questions don’t worry.

    Maxi_Headroom (#21) Excellent mention of petanque!

    Tomefccam (#23) I didn’t know about Clive Allen. Laporta was very charming when we eventually got to him yesterday. Smooth operator and the Barcelona piece should make some interesting viewing. Hansen was a little ‘free’ on Focus but I think he was just relaxed and that made for some good television.

    Andrew (#24) Classic.

    Spursaardvark (THFC4) Sounds like you were taking 2 for the team there partner. Did your lot win the game in the end?

    Don’t Panic Mr Sullivan (#27) Heart break! Do you remember when that walker got disqualified in the Olympics and refused to give up? You should have been like that... or at least chopped the tree down in frustration.

    SaintStatto (#28) I understand the gripe but the JPT rarely gets a mention on Focus. I don’t think we have a single Pompey fan in the office actually so please don’t think it’s some sort of south coast bias going on. Look at it this way... there is only one football league manager who has appeared on the Focus sofa this season – that’s your man.

    Surreybloke123 (#29)
    I honestly can’t remember but thanks for helping out.

    Right... have a nice time everyone. I’ll see you soon.

  • Comment number 32.

    Pants I forgot too...

    Guy Whittingham

  • Comment number 33.

    Dan Walker wrote:

    Spursaardvark (THFC4) Sounds like you were taking 2 for the team there partner. Did your lot win the game in the end?

    No. I went off, were a man down and they were steamrolling (steamroller-ing?) us anyway. We were lucky to escape without a rugby score style thrashing.

    Still, the thumb break was a save.

    Nicola Berti

  • Comment number 34.

    "I've been re-directed to Luton" came the quite worrying text.....

    Encouraging to see that Hansen's succinct texting style clearly does not suffer a 'lol' or a 'tb' gladly.

    Kingsley Black

  • Comment number 35.

    Hi Dan, you should have noticed why Barcelona is more than a club. The answer is very clear and dissapointing in the video itself. They talk more about the Catalonian identity than football. I would say it is more than a club, in fact, it is a regional political party.

  • Comment number 36.

    Seriously Dan, I want your job! Milan and Barcelona in one week, and meeting all the football players and managers in their own homes too - must be fascinating! I wouldn't even need to be paid if I got to meet Cesc Fabregas


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