BBC BLOGS - Dan Walker

Archives for March 2012

Football Focus wins royal seal of approval

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Dan Walker | 21:32 UK time, Thursday, 29 March 2012

"One doesn't address the Duke like that" was the phrase ringing around my head after the first time I met a member of the royal family.

I was giving a speech at St James's Palace to some Duke of Edinburgh gold award winners and the man himself turned up.

He moved around the room chatting occasionally and eventually approached us at the door. There was an awkward silence in the room, which was making me increasingly uncomfortable. When he got to me and extended his right arm for a shake I exclaimed "morning chief".

"And what is it you do?" came the friendly response.

What followed was a 90-second conversation that ended with him declining my offer to come on the Football Focus sofa the following Saturday. The Duke departed, an aide gave me the evils and produced the phrase that started this blog.

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Focus on Bolton after testing week

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Dan Walker | 18:41 UK time, Thursday, 22 March 2012

At the start of the year Team Focus (we don't call ourselves that by the way) sat down to discuss where we should take our On the Road shows in 2012.

We're doing our best to work our way around, and so far we've been to 12 of the 20 Premier League clubs and five in the Football League.

Choice numero uno in February was Sunderland, which turned out to be a beauty, as Martin O'Neill was weaving his magic and there was a real feel-good factor when we turned up.

Unfortunately for Sunderland, Thierry Henry also made the trip to the North East that day for Arsenal and popped the Black Cats' balloon.

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Noel Gallagher meets Mario Balotelli

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Dan Walker | 23:56 UK time, Wednesday, 7 March 2012

"Hi Mario, I'm Dan Walker from the BBC."

"Hello... wait... BBC? Journalist?"

"Yes."

"I do not like you already."

That was the conversation that accompanied my first meeting with Mario Balotelli, the Italian enigma who has excited and baffled in equal measure since stepping on to these shores.

Singer Noel Gallager and I had been waiting for the striker at Manchester City's training ground. We had arrived nice and early and been given a tour by Patrick Vieira, who is near the top of my "nicest Frenchmen I've met" list. He's just behind the guy who gave me an extra "boule" of chocolate ice cream last summer.

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Cardiff in full voice to commemorate Gary Speed

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Dan Walker | 19:36 UK time, Thursday, 1 March 2012

On the Sunday that Gary's Speed death was announced I remember being staggered by the depth of feeling and shock. This week in Cardiff that emotion was given a very powerful and memorable voice.

The planned minute's applause before kick-off against Costa Rica on Wednesday didn't need to be orchestrated. It started instinctively as the players came out and was three times longer than planned. Nobody wanted to stop.

Those inside The Cardiff City Stadium were remembering a national hero but Gary's family were a poignant presence throughout. They were remembering a husband, a son, a brother and a father.

His two sons were incredible. Ed is just 14 years old but was handed a microphone in a packed VIP suite before the game to address the gathered family and football friends.

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