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Chasing a 'Cupset' with the underdogs

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Dan Walker | 22:17 UK time, Thursday, 6 January 2011

It has been an interesting week. I hope you have enjoyed the little FA Cup specials on the website and are looking forward to round three.

For those of you who don't know - we are doing a special programme which involves visiting a different underdog each day in a bid to cover as many FA Cup stories as we can.

The idea was the brainchild of producer James Daniels who has spent most of Christmas planning the pieces, making phone calls and trying to get the giant TV jigsaw to fit together.

Dover Athletic fans

Dover fans getting ready during our day down at Crabble

We started off at the white cliffs of Dover on Monday morning and then followed the team to their Blue Square South league game against Thurrock. Dover are the lowest-ranked side left in the competition and are a little disappointed with Huddersfield away in round three.

Lee Dixon came to Thurrock because he played at Arsenal with Martin Hayes, the Dover boss. Thurrock were an incredibly friendly club who were singing "8-7, we're gonna win 8-7" when they scored to make it 7-2 in the last minute.

Dixon was impressed with Dover Athletic and particularly striker Adam Birchall, who already has 11 goals in the FA Cup this season and bagged another five against Thurrock. If you've not seen him - he looks a bit like a white Romario with facial hair!

If Dover face a big task at Huddersfield, Crawley Town really fancy their chances against Robbie Savage's Derby. On Tuesday we took the Derby captain down to the Broadfield Stadium where the two teams face each other on Monday night.

Being from Crawley - and a fan - I am aware that my boys are pretty unpopular in non-league football because they are very ambitious and have the money to back it up. Having said that, some of the stories about how much the club pay their staff are a touch exaggerated.

The plan was for Robbie to interview a few players but Crawley didn't want him upsetting the camp so banned him from their property!

Robbie Savage, bus stop, Crawley

Robbie Savage waiting at a bus stop in Crawley after being told he couldn't go into the club

I spoke to Sergio Torres and Scott Neilson instead while Robbie went into Crawley town centre to meet the locals and learn a bit more about the club. The result is well worth watching.

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Wednesday took us to Stevenage with Garth Crooks, who was at the ill-tempered game against Newcastle back in 1998 and was back in the town 13 years on preparing for the next instalment.

 Garth Crooks with the FA Cup

'Gareth' with the thing he won in 1981 and 1982

We took the FA Cup into the old town and it produced quite a stir and two memorable incidents.

1) The bloke who waited for 10 minutes to have his picture taken with the trophy before revealing he didn't have a camera
2) The bloke who bumbled up to Garth shouting 'GARETH! GARETH! I love you on the telly Gareth'. Gareth took it very well.

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Thursday saw us drop in on Sven-Goran Eriksson, who seems to have had a big impact on Leicester City. His new team take on his old team on Sunday when Manchester City go to the Walkers Stadium. Martin Keown came along - he played under Sven with England and was at Leicester for 17 games at the end of his career.

Sven Goran Erikkson, Martin Keown and Dan Walker

Sven will face his old side Manchester City in the FA Cup

Sven was as charming as ever, making the whole crew a cup of tea and talking at length about Leicester, Manchester City (a job he thinks he took two years too early), England and being a manager in the Premier League again.

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We've only got York City left to visit and then it's back to London to stitch the whole thing together. It will be a very different Football Focus but hopefully it will be a great watch and the 1000-mile round trip will be worth it.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Chelsea, Molineux Stadium

We also got to take in Wolves v Chelsea at Molineux

I am really hoping that no managers get the big shoulder this week for the purely selfish reason that it would mess up our running order. I'll do another blog next week on the intricacies of the trip itself and the camel face that our cameraman decided to bring with him, but if you've got any questions about the show or this blog just let me know.

As ever, the best way to follow the build up to the show is on Twitter. You can find me at


  • Comment number 1.

    Great blog as always Dan

  • Comment number 2.

    Nice article Dan! I hope for my teams sake that Dover dont manage a win! Arsenal to give Leeds a drubbing too!

  • Comment number 3.

    Another good blog Dan. I'm looking for an upset in the Huddersfield game. Good luck to Adam Birchall for the future too.

  • Comment number 4.

    Great read, was funny to see Robbie Savage's reputation going before him once again! Look forward to seeing the end result this Saturday, as well as some good cup shocks. Though on Sunday I would settle for a 5-0 United win.

  • Comment number 5.

    Dan I love you.

  • Comment number 6.

    Good blog once again dan, you seem to be getting better week by week. Look forward to catching the end result on Saturday, and hoping for a few shocks over the weekend as well. Keeping my fingers crossed my team can make it through and draw out a big team in the fourth round

  • Comment number 7.

    I think there will be quite a few shocks this weekend with the number of Premier League teams who want to concentrate on their League campaign. With the Arsenal/Leeds match, it would probably be better for Leeds to lose bearing in mind how much their cup run last year compromised their league form.

    Ernest Wise

  • Comment number 8.

    Good to have you back Dan. Hope you had a good Christmas and New Year.

    Eric Morecambe

  • Comment number 9.

    Dover disappointed with huddersfield? Well as a Huddersfield fan i am disappointed with Dover especially when our rivals get Arsenal. Hopefully we get them in round 4

  • Comment number 10.

    As a Gillingham fan, I wish Dover luck. They beat us well at the Priestfield, albeit we were absolutely dire and in the middle of a terrible run. Thankfully for us, that result was one of the catalysts that made our manager and Chairman shake up our team and we are now on a great run.

    Can't understand why the Huddersfield fan is getting all moody about Dover being disappointed at drawing Huddersfield - they couldn't have had a worse draw: unfashionable northern team (any one outside of Huddersfield realises that a good stadium does not make you a big club); long journey; away from home; and against a team (unlike GFC when Dover played them) who are of a high enough league status and in decent enough form to beat them convincingly. I hope not. Up the Kent!

    Paul Gadd

  • Comment number 11.

    So, you travelled up and around most of the country, and didn't think to include Burton Albion on your list of possible upsets? Middlesborough are the visitors...

  • Comment number 12.

    Dan did Robbie Savage not get let in because he had wet himself.. the pic above clearly looks like he has been given a spare pair of jeans by someone...

    Who is your money on for an upset?... Leeds for me.

  • Comment number 13.

    No sleep and no food make andy tired and hungry.
    And also crave gooseberries, which if I'm honest I dont much care for.

    Anyway on a more positive note A+

    By the way Dover maybe underdogs in the FA cup but they are supercats in the heroic feline world.

    Its true, its in a book and everything. And by book I mean the last sentence I wrote

    Dan, seen as its no longer suitable to sing festive songs ill just sing songs that are seasonal, if thats okay with you.

    So, for you all,

    Sick and tired, you've been hanging on me.
    You make me sad with your eyes, you're telling me lies

    Amelia Earhart

  • Comment number 14.

    Masai wrote:
    Dover disappointed with huddersfield? Well as a Huddersfield fan i am disappointed with Dover especially when our rivals get Arsenal. Hopefully we get them in round 4

    I beg your pardon? Leeds and Huddersfield are rivals? Not this season pal....

  • Comment number 15.

    Dan, don't tell me you took that 'wolf-in-sheep's clothing' Mr. Robbie Savage down to your very own team's ground and using all the video and statistical resources the FF team could muster gave him and thus Derby a run down of all of Crawley Town's players and capabilities???

    You, 'Gareth' and the boys have certainly gone the extra mile travelling around the country in search of the next cup giant-killer..speaking of long road trips whatever happened to the BBC's white bus from the World Cup?

  • Comment number 16.

    Back at last, it has been almost three weeks since the last life support installment of your great blog. Three whole weeks.
    To pass the time I read the first blog you ever wrote way back in '05. WOW, how opportunity knocks even on golf courses, and how thing change in 5+ years.
    I must admit all this FA stuff caught me a bit by surprise but I have enjoyed what I've been able to watch. My mind has been on the day job and the ashes and the beloved CCFC's regular, predictable, annual slump. It always happens between Jan and late March or early April.
    It will be interesting to see the results.
    Hope you had a restful Xmas & new year. Any particular culinary delights you feel should be mentioned in dispatches? I've got a few- I think I mentioned I would be having venison for Xmas dinner, well Venison file-mignon went down very well with a dry bordeax. The tradgedy was that the mail order company did not get the Christmas pudding to us inn time, in fact it did not get it to us at all. Need to chase up the refund.
    Candy (aka sweets) were shared liberally among allt he kids. Anyway I am waffling, got to jump int he car and get my oldest from school, a snow storm has caused PM school to be cancelled.
    C U

  • Comment number 17.

    Former Maidstone United supporter here. Best of luck to Dover Athletic, our rivals from the days of the Conference.

    As for Leeds and Huddersfield not being rivals, I think they will be again next season.

  • Comment number 18.

    I quite like the romantic idea of Dover coming up to Huddersfield and getting something...

    ...just as long as that something is 'comprehensively beaten' :)

    Then we'll have the lowest placed team in the next round too.. a decent cup run will make up for us bottling it in the league so far

    #14 - miaow!

  • Comment number 19.

    I know, came across a bit bitchy that. Ha. Sorry for that. Totally agree there is a good chance of the rivalry continuing as of next season as, as was mentioned earlier, after Leeds beat Arsenal tomorrow they will have a dip in form for a few months ;-)

  • Comment number 20.

    That sounds like a really boring show. Nobody is that bothered about the cup anymore.

  • Comment number 21.

    Evening all

    Thanks very much for your comments brothers and sisters - even you Mr Murray in at #20.

    Hopefully even you will enjoy the show. We've been given some really good access to some clubs that don't often feature on network TV and the pieces that I've seen so far have been beautifully put together.

    Sorry I haven't replied to your comments directly but this week has been utter madness. I hope you'll be watching at 12:15 on BBC 1 tomorrow.

    Have a great weekend everyone.

    Keith Houchen

  • Comment number 22.

    Fancy leeds to beat the Arse, Wenger sniffs a league title i think.

    #20 - you have no heart my furry little friend. Only PL clubs' fans dont care about the cup.

  • Comment number 23.

    I don't see how Huddersfield will be playing Leeds again next season. More likely to be two divisions between them. And I'm a town fan! At least Hoyle might get around to sacking Clark come the summer and we can start again.

  • Comment number 24.

    Dan, you must be some height! You made those two Crawley players look like a couple of under 10's!

    Robbie Savage - 'fairly big name.' He'll have loved hearing that!

    Anyway, good stuff there mate, always enjoy your blog.

    PS, busy this morning doing the Hodgson segment? As soon as you wrote that last paragraph you probably knew that was going to happen.

  • Comment number 25.

    Sven's office was busy recently then.
    He had you Football Focus guys and also he had a small segment with Max Rushden on Soccer AM within the same office!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 26.

    What has been the biggest FA Cup shock of all time? Barnsley beating Liverpool at Anfield and then Chelsea in the quarter-finals was pretty big

  • Comment number 27.

    There definitely is something brilliant about the cup, but it's not just about the upsets (which seems to have turned into a media obsession). They are the obvious stories but look at the way premier league clubs still turn out in force for the cup (Remember Jose Mourinho saying this could only happen in the UK).

    Sometimes it's just your turn to get dumped on, you take it on the chin (I remember Evertonians staying to applaud Oldham off the pitch after they dumped us out a few years ago ) but that doesn't mean that the Premier league clubs going through isn't a story.

    I think the mystery is things like the appalling attendance at the Stadium of the 3rd round of the cup becoming just a premier league away fan and lower league thing?


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