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And now for something completely different

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Dan Walker | 16:55 UK time, Thursday, 15 December 2011

We are trying something new on Football Focus this Saturday - a live audience for the very first time. We've been thinking about doing this for a while and the BBC's Celebrate Sport initiative has given us the perfect platform.

 Dan and the Focus team recreate the Smiths' iconic image outside Salford Lads' Club

We'll be live from the iconic Salford Lads' Club on Saturday, a venue steeped in sporting and musical history. It was opened by Robert Baden Powell in 1904, featured in a couple of Smiths videos (Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before and There is a Light That Never Goes Out), while its famous members include Albert Finney, Allan Clarke (lead singer of the Hollies) and Manchester United's Eddie Colman, who died in the Munich disaster.

We've had to limit audience numbers to 80 but we'll get some questions from the floor during the show, with Mark Lawrenson, Robbie Savage and Lee Dixon all ready to be grilled. We'll also have a special guest appearances, including one from former England cricket captain (and enormous football fan) Michael Vaughan.

Now I know there will be some who think 'what's the point?' but television should always be about pushing the boundaries and trying new ways of doing things. We've already taken the show on the road during the last two seasons and it'll be great to see if a live audience is something we can try again in the future.

It also means we're playing our part in the BBC's Celebrate Sport programme of events leading up to next week's Sports Personality of the Year.

We might try to get Paul Ince and Martin Keown together again at some stage as well. Twitter went mad last Saturday when Keown kept interrupting Ince. Afterwards the boys had a fascinating chat about great footballing rivalries and the psychology of pre-match mind games. You can see more from both of them on the Focus Forum below.

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Of course, the most important thing about Football Focus is not where we come from but who is on the show - and we have a bumper edition for our last one before Christmas.

Yaya Toure has been a dominant monster at the heart of Manchester City's midfield this season and we've been to see him this week to talk about leading the Premier League, going out of the Champions League and the future for Roberto Mancini's men.

We couldn't go to Salford Lads Club without reflecting on its proud connection with Manchester United, so we'll catch up with former United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who is now making his way in management. He's made an impressive start, taking Molde to the Norwegian title for the first time in their history. The baby-faced assassin will talk about life as the gaffer and also look back on his Old Trafford days.

On top of all that, one of football's most popular characters is back on form after coming to terms with relegation from the Premier League. Ian Holloway's Blackpool won many admirers last season and have crept back into play-off contention in the Championship, so we'll have a special Christmas message from Mr Holloway as well.

I hope you enjoy the slightly different viewing experience this weekend. If you have any comments, or there is something you'd like to ask our guests on Saturday, let me know.

Between then and now you can follow all the build-up on twitter at


  • Comment number 1.


  • Comment number 2.


  • Comment number 3.

    follow me dan @DanGod95

  • Comment number 4.

    ^ saddos

    Also the Smiths are pap! Still looking forward to the show as always.

  • Comment number 5.

    My first sons first words were "Ole Gunnar Solskjaer" after months of singing during his meal times ..... "Who put the ball in the Germans net ....... Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Was quite impressive for a two year old at the time. I kid you not.

    Looking forward to this show. Is your annual Christmas jumper going to make an appearance Dan ??????????



  • Comment number 6.

    Dan, Man.
    I've been awol of late, so good to catch up on your brief missives. I did notice from my sick bed that your last two blogs receive a huge number of contributors. Do recall every breaking the 400 barrier before just for # of contributions?

    Actually my absence was not "absent without leave:, the doc gave me leave. Shoulder surgery coming up. TMI.

    OK lets get back on track...This blog and the up coming show sounds great for you license fee payers in Blighty. I'm not sure what Mr. Savage will add to the whole event, though. I'm sure he would say the same about me. Got to be honest, Savage Says adds nothing to my BBC sporting experience- even if he is a compatriot. I'd be happy to see your Xmas jumper again though, more substance and style in that that in the flowing locks.
    When you have Keown on next could you ask him for his thoughts, X years on, about the Battle of the Buffet. Had a yankee come up to me the other day and ask for an account of the Battle of Old Trafford and the Battle of the Buffet. I must admit I came up a bit short on the latter.

  • Comment number 7.

    Also the Smiths are pap!

    yeah and add to that joy division, and growing up in Manchester around that time, I was only too happy when the Roses appeared, along with Inspirals, Mondays, and even Oasis in early doors, Smiths were good no doubt, just not my cup of tea.

  • Comment number 8.


  • Comment number 9.

    8th actually!!!
    @dangod95 not worth a follow tweets are dreadful
    however @adamgodLUFC95 is worth a follow

  • Comment number 10.

    Only a leeds fans could celebrate 7th or 8th!

  • Comment number 11.


  • Comment number 12.

    No mention of food this week? Disappointing!

  • Comment number 13.

    Keon and Ince were comedy last week, was there any off-air animosity between them?

    I'd like to see guests who have 'history' on the show together, watching them squirm next to each other would be cracking.

  • Comment number 14.


  • Comment number 15.


    I seem to recall Peter Schmeichel and Ian Wright being together for a Denmark England game - may even have been the 2002 World Cup clash - all very jolly. If it did kick off I'd fancy the Great Dane to star jump Wrighty into oblivion.

    How can people not like This Charming Man?


    I have a picture of my son having his sausage and chips tea outside Lou Macaris Chip Shop. A very fine day that was.


    Salford Lad's Club? Are you scouting for talent for La Liga? I know one of Barca's players has a crook leg so it would stand to reason.

  • Comment number 16.


  • Comment number 17.

    While they're there, they should paint an apostrophe on the sign, after Lads.

  • Comment number 18.

    Nice to see you are settling into your new Salford surroundings Dan and exploring the area. Even Shearer wandered over the bridge for the Newcastle game the other week. The BBC site looks impressive ... and huge!

  • Comment number 19.

    Hey i've been there.

    Yes i have!

    Dont call me a liar. It's hurtful.

    Anyway i have some people i need to speak to.

    No you don't need me to introduce them.


    This is phil from accounting, bernadette from marketing, this is avocado jim, and that....


    Oh well it's not meant to be offensive.

    How else do i tell avocado jim and avocado frank apart!

    Anyway now you have met everyone make me some orange juice.


    Do i look thirsty to you?

    I need better recruiters.


  • Comment number 20.

    Really good blog. Thanks BBC.

  • Comment number 21.

    Is this blog really necessary,

    its a blog about making a football programme! Is football focus really big enough for us to need to know about the pre-amble? Probably not.

    What is annoying about this is that other great sports, e.g. rugby, boxing... dont get the same exposure as football. This blog is a classic case of over-exposure, a minority blog about the majority (football) subject.

    Dont get me wrong I love football, but I dont need to know about this when there are other hot topics, in other sports, that can be debated. Same goes for Vickery's musings on South American transport systems which often pass as insights into South American football.

  • Comment number 22.

    # 21

    Totally agree. Rubbish blog. They should do more cycling blogs and stuff, we have world class cyclists...and no world class footballers. No Rooney isn't.

    And don't let Tim Vickery near a computer again!

  • Comment number 23.


    Agreed, and this is highlighted by the number (or lack of) of posters on this topic.

    We're not saying down with football, football is my number one sport. Just some moderation when it comes to over-saturation.

  • Comment number 24.

    Thanks for your comments so far brothers and sisters.

    21-23 I understand where you are coming from but the purpose of this particular blog is to inform about Celebrate Sport and is pretty different from the normal ones.

    Plus, never understand the need to moan. Just don't read it and if you read it and don't like it, go and do something you do like.

    Football Focus is watched by between a 1/5 and 1/4 of the viewing public every Saturday - surely that's probably enough to warrant a little more investigation every now and again.

    One last point, I don't think Tim Vickery is an averageBBC_journalist... he is first class.

    Have a lovely weekend everyone.

    Andrei Arshavin

  • Comment number 25.

    I really thought Ince was gonna lamp Keown last week!

  • Comment number 26.

    @Dan, 24,

    I agree. Blogs are open, and so should be open forums which provoke debate. However I struggle to see what's contsructive about leaving a post along the lines of "this blog is pap, remove it, blah, blah."

    Football Focus is indeed one of the most widely-viewed shows on the Beeb, and it's nice to get a little insight and background from the Master of Ceremonies himself. Besides, how many blogs can you read about tactics and under-fire managers before you need to mix it up for a while.

    I enjoy these blogs as I am currently out of the country for some time and so can't watch the show itself. Which reminds me: is there an international edition or something that I can watch online?

  • Comment number 27.

    Personally speaking, I enjoy these blogs as I do Football Focus. If anyone dislikes the blog- don't read's that simple.
    One idea for the New Year Dan- a look back at the career of/interview with Leon McKenzie. He is retiring this weekend and recently featured in some BBC Sport Website interviews (as I'm sure you know). His talking about depression was I think an important step forward in the sport following recent events.
    In any case, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year Dan.

  • Comment number 28.


    I agree totally, I find all the blogs are interesting and they do have merit. You won't please everyone but that's like anything in life.

  • Comment number 29.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 30.

    Let me tell you, I personally found the visit of the Focus Team to Salford Lads Club deeply moving, inspiring and wrapped in sporting History.

    True I am biased with strong connections as a Salfordian, and Manchester United fan who loves The Smiths, but much more than that I have and always will see football as a "working class sport" and that to me is what Salford Lads Club is all about. Giving young lads from tough inner cities like Salford, such as Eddie Colman, Billy Garton etc an opportunity to shine in Sport..

    I personally think the idea of taking the show out to "the people" of Salford, even if it's only 80 people in this instance is a fantastic idea.

    It is people like Archie who volunteers at the club and has been a member since the 1940's, that makes me proud to call myself a Salfordian.

    Simply Brilliant the only downside is I am not one of the lucky 80 guests in the audience but will be there in spirit.

    In the words of Morrissey "Take a Bow" Salford Lads Club you have made me a very proud man.

    Jonny Crowther
    Higher Broughton

  • Comment number 31.


    Actually found this a reasonable read - if I didn't I would have got on with my life...

    Gerald Sibon

  • Comment number 32.

    think i preferred footy focus (and the whole of the BBC football) when they covered, and were relevant to the whole of the UK! Wonder if i can get a rebate on the license fee now bbc manchester have taken it over?

  • Comment number 33.

    Did you mean that you do not understand the need to moan? Do you mean that. Just think of family life, either as a kid or as a husband. Can you understand how, for some of us- perhaps all of us occasionally, the desire to moan becomes a "need" at least on a de-facto basis. If people did not "need" to moan then the world would be a prefect place and you would not need to go to church on Sunday.
    More particularly, as far as this blog is concerned, we have Dan Walker- who has pretty much excelled in spite of principles that could have ham strung his career. We have a presenter who has 1/4 of the viewing public PLUS GOONS LIKE ME ALL OVER THE WORLD tuning in to view interviews with everyone from Cantona to model aeroplane makers on the side of the Garth mountain. In short we have a young man (emphasis on the young - don't let it go to yr head) who has the confidence to transition from Gary Speed's untimely death to Salford Lads Club and the trivia of live audiences at a production. THEN ON THE OTHER HAND we have an average BBC journalist complaining that such variety is not his cup of tea.
    Hey guys, the blog is what it is. If you need to moan, do so- but also understand that your perceived need does not arise out of Dan's blog.
    Ohh and by the way Dan, you blog was a "fun" light read, but it wasn't the semi mystical, MLK-like experience that JC Salfordian found it to be.
    NONE THE LESS, thanks for being one of the few blog masters to interact with contributors.

  • Comment number 34.

    the only thing that annouys me right now this that since moving to manchester that the show is becoming more focused on utd and city like when it when it was based in london it was london teams that were on more. please can you can focus on other teams not just utd and city. no mention of the financial matters at blackburn, the relegation scrap, championship and league 1/2.

  • Comment number 35.

    Thirty fifth!
    As for the post above me, its no surprise that the BBC have now removed their London bias and its now a purely London-Manchester bias.
    Maybe every major show should go to a major city, because thats apparently the only way the BBC won't be biased to where they're based instead of giving a decent UK wide view of things.
    The Second City gets to make Coast and have the soap Doctors, the ninth biggest city has the whole of the BBC Sports department.

    I feel for cities bigger than Manchester like Leeds, that barely get a mention on the BBC!

  • Comment number 36.

    What all you Manchester-bashers seem to be forgetting is that even before the BBC's official move up north, Manchester already had one of the biggest and most successful BBC offices outside of London, and had so for many years. It's not as if the powers that be decided on Manchester in a random provincial poll. And while I agree that there are other larger cities, such as Leeds as has been mentioned, that were certainly in with a shout, the huge metropolitan area of Greater Manchester is surely one of the largest outside of London. This fact, coupled with the cultural and economic success of the city, certainly indicates to me that the decision was a sound one.

  • Comment number 37.

    I feel for cities bigger than Manchester like Leeds, that barely get a mention on the BBC!
    Now that made me literallly laugh out loud!!
    Leeds is no more than a large town, and i`ve lived and worked there, Bolton is bigger!!


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