Chatting with Chappers
In recent weeks on these pages it's been journalists ahoy as we've interviewed some of our favourite football hacks. I've thoroughly enjoyed doing those and it's something we're going to return to soon, but for now anyway - it's time to spread our wings a little.
I thought for a change, we'd chat to someone who has - wait for it - presented and worked on Radio 1, 5Live, ESPN, Match of the Day, Football Italia, Rugby and League shows, been on Masterchef and Mastermind, written a book, presents podcasts, cuddly toy.....you get the picture. Mark 'Chappers' Chapman has done the Jewson lot.
After 10 (ten!) years on Radio 1 he moved on to 5Live where he is currently living the dream. As someone who has 5Live on all day and all of the night I'm delighted that Chappers agreed to talk to EFW.
So pull up a chair as we discuss necking bottles of wine with Danny Baker and David Moyes at the World Cup, potentially exciting news from the BBC about Non-League Day, his open views on Manchester United - you may have heard of them - and whether or not he'd like to slip into Gary Lineker's Match of the Day presenting shoes:
I'm exhausted just reading your CV. What's been the highlight of your work as a presenter thus far? Oh god. The first question and it is impossible to answer. I always wanted to host the Radio 1 breakfast show as a kid so presenting that (with other people) while I worked there was a highlight. When I got the call in 1999 to say I had the job to do the sport on the breakfast show I burst into tears. This will sound twee but I work on what I call goosebump moments. So when I presented a MOTD live game and heard the theme in my earpiece, I got goosebumps. The first time I said 'This is BBC Radio 5live, it's 5 o'clock, here's sports report' and heard that iconic music I got goosebumps. I am very very lucky.
What where you World Cup highs and lows aside from the actual football? The actual football wasn't a high anyway. The highlight was spending time with so many football people and hearing their stories. 3 hours of beer, Danny Baker and Chris Waddle and their Gazza stories left me laughing so much I couldn't stop coughing. David Moyes asking me after some of the games, if I was a manager who I would have signed from the 90 minutes I had just watched, and one night at 2am, having just got back from a game and nearly been killed by a dreadful driver, sharing a bottle of red wine by an open log fire with Moyes and Baker. The lowlights included seeing 5live's Darren Fletcher in his training gear and more seriously our inability to actually go out and explore country as I had done in Japan and Germany, because of health and safety people who were worried about what might happen to you. I spent a lot of my time in Joburg and guess what? It was no different to any other big city in the world. Act like a tit and you could be in danger. Be sensible and you were fine.
Do you find it easy to switch off from sport when you're not at work? Why would I want to switch off from sport? I am a fan of most sports so will watch or listen to anything, though I find a F1 a bit of struggle.
How easy it to broadcast whilst someone is shouting instructions in your earpiece? You get used to it. Sometimes you ignore them, sometimes you take notice of them. I have had plenty of practice over the years because I am used to my mum or my other half bellowing instructions at me. Most of the time I ignore them, sometimes I listen to them.
You've covered a plethora of sports. Have you ever had to bluff your way through on one or are you an expert in every field, pitch, track, court and course? I think most people who have listened to me would say I am an expert in none of them. I like to think I know my stuff about most of them but the most important thing is not to bluff your way through it. If i didn't know something about a sport I was doing on air I would ask the correspondent or the interviewee. I don't think you should ever be scared to admit not knowing something. I think people can tell you if you try to blag it.
Have you ever dropped a Denis Norden type blooper live on air? Fortunately not. Or not one that comes to mind. I have missed links through being stuck in a toilet. I also once said that Altrincham Ice Rink was a great place to meet 13 year old girls over a slush puppy. It was during a link with Dave when we were reminiscing about our youth. However I forgot to sat that it was good to meet 13 year olds when I was a 13 year old myself. Hundreds of people texted in asking if I was on a register.
Jake Humphrey deserves 5 FIFA stars for holding it together in a professional manor whilst presenting from Sheff Wed v Palace at Hillsborough last season when all hell was breaking loose around his commentary box. Have you ever found yourself in a compromising position whilst broadcasting? He was great that day. He is a top broadcaster. Every time you do a live piece on telly there will always be one nobhead in the background trying to get himself on camera. It is one of the first rules of tv. They are normally on a mobile waving at their mate who is probably telling them they are on the telly. I know, it's hilarious. And it never ceases to make me laugh every time I see it. Which is daily.
Hats off for tackling the subject of homosexuality in football on that documentary. How did you find that experience? Refreshing. The fact that a top flight footballers hasn't come out since Justin Fashanu is always blamed on the fans. They would make the player's life hell is the argument. By the end of the documentary I doubted that. I am sick of football fans not being given the credit they deserve. A minority would not accept a gay footballer, but the majority couldn't care less. The media are the problem I think and some of the dinosaurs who work in PR. They wouldn't leave the poor bloke alone, they would delve into his past and I think his life would be hell for 6 months or so. He would be beseiged. The player that does come out has to be older, experienced and at the top of his game. It also needs more straight men to stand up in football and speak out for the gay community.
I'm guessing the BBC gets it in the neck from willy-waving (© The Guardian's Daniel Taylor) Liverpool and Manchester United fans accusing them of biased coverage on every level? Not to my knowledge is it doesn't. I am not just saying that to play the corporate line, I genuinely am not aware of it.
How easy is it for you to maintain balanced view given the fact you support Manchester United? Very easy. It helps that they were my local team. I am a Manc and when I started going they were crap! I think it helps with other fans that I am not a glory hunting cockney red. I am also open about who I support. I can't understand why in this day and age people try and cover up who they support. You shouldn't be working in sport if you don't have a team. How can you have a passion for the game without following a team. I have a team in every single sport going from Sale in rugby union to Hull in Superleague to Lancashire in cricket to Boston Red Sox in baseball. I can still be objective and critical and praise other sides. My biggest worry this summer was if Kenny Dalglish had become Liverpool manager. I work with Kelly a lot. She is a friend and you don't want a friend's dad to do badly, and yet he could have been Liverpool manager! As it is they have still appointed a really nice guy and someone I have worked with several times in Roy Hodgson so it is still a bit of an uncomfortable position for me.
It must be hugely frustrating that Sir Alex still doesn't talk to the BBC? I couldn't care less.
The Glazers have saddled the club with over £700m of debt. Green and gold until they're sold? Definitely. It annoys me how narrow minded the media have been. So many people have said well you have won all these trophies under them so it can't be all bad. Yes, but in that time my season ticket has gone up from 500 quid to 950. Nearly 50% in 4 years. Oh and despite that we are still massively in debt.
You can always support City if get fed up with it, they're coming good now eh? Never never never. But I think it is great for the derby. I went to two of the derbies last year - one at Eastlands in the league and the 2nd leg of the Carling Cup at Old Trafford. And the atmosphere was the best it has ever been for the derby. They are a proper threat, a proper team and I think that's what Manchester needs. You want big games where you feel sick and nervous in the week leading up to it don't you?
Do you know anyone in sport with a better taste in music than Pat Nevin? I quite like my own collection actually. Does Pat switch between Stone Roses and Girls Aloud. I don't think so. Mark wins.
You must have a whole host of people to choose from in the 'worst taste in music' category? Any footballer who does an interview with a pair of massive headphones round their next. They just scream out, 'I am listening to bland r n b shite'.
Radio 1 or 5Live? I love them both. Radio 1 is the biggest radio station in the world and it matters to the nation. Look at the debate that goes on around its breakfast show, whoever is doing it. I am so glad I did 10 years there But I was never as happy at Radio 1 as I am at 5live. Never To be in the thick of sports coverage and journalism is an honour. I get to use my brain now and not just play this grumpy character who comes out with sarcastic one liners
Who is your best friend in football? Boney. We have played in the same team since going to University in 1991, and we are still going now. I don't want to be friends with anybody in the professional game. How can I be objective if they are my friends?
September 4 marks the first ever Non-League Day. Given the fact there are no Premiership or Championship games on that day, fans of those clubs are being urged to actively support their local Non-League team. Are you aware of this project and will the BBC be covering it in anyway? We are and I have suggested that I present 5live sport from a non league game that day. It is being investigated.
Who is your local Non-League club and have you been to see them play? Altrincham. I would watch them when United were away as a kid. I still try and go every now and then when I am back seeing Mum and Dad. For most of the past decade we have been relegated from the Conference only for another club to go bust, or have played 17 players on the pitch in one game and had points deducted so have always been rescued at the last minute. Last season tho we reached the dizzy heights of mid table. Alty were a strong old club back in the day then as soon as promotion to the football league came in they fell away, bar one season when Barnet pipped us to promotion.
In your book 'Heroes, Hairbands and Hissy Fits' you were quite critical of modern football and players. Have any players brought you to task over that? Firstly thank you for being one of the 3 people who have read it. It is still in bargain bins up and down the country or on Amazon and 7 paperback copies will be released just after Christmas. Nobody has brought me to task no, probably because they haven't read it. I try not to slag people off and I don't go down the route of blaming money for everything. It's more the little things that wind up, John Terry wearing the socks over his knees, William Gallas wearing 10 at Arsenal, and ticker tape and fireworks ruining every trophy presentation for example. Grumpy old man eh?
What's your most treasured piece of football memorabilia? Mine and my Dad's two tickets to Utd v Wolves in October '81. Framed by my dad and given to me for my birthday a few years ago. It was the first game we ever went to.
I've just started listening to the Chappers podcast. Do you plan on branching out from purely reporting on the Premiership? We try and do a bit of everything - football league, europe, stats, refereeing problems. I think it has the Premier League in the podcast title but that is only a small part of what we cover.
You give Roy Meredith a bit of stick on that show for being a font of all footballing knowledge. He'd be the first name down your pub quiz team though right? I give him stick cos he claims to support 5 different teams across the continent. His football knowledge is amazing. I am surprised he has ever kissed a girl to be honest with you, let alone got a family. But yes if I ever did a pub quiz he would be on my team.
You've got [has a quick look] 20,377 followers on Twitter. That's bloody impressive! Do you tease your fellow colleagues with your legion of followers? That's not a lot in the Twitter world is it? I think most people followed me thinking I was the other Mark Chapman and are now right royally disppointed that they aren't getting an insight into a life in a high security American prison but instead are reading about Craig Bellamy going to Cardiff and Masterchef.
Do you have to change your style of presenting for the ESPN work? I have to wear a shirt and tie but that's the only change. As a presenter you should be true to yourself. Try and be something you are not and you are in all sorts of trouble.
When Gary Lineker moves on do you fancy stepping into his MOTD presenting shoes? Horrible question - say yes and you bill it as I want Lineker's job, say no and you will just think that I am lying. I want to be challenged as a presenter. 5live sport challenges me, 606 challenges me, Final Score and PTI both challenge me and make me think on my feet. Would MOTD be a challenge? I don't know until I have done one.
And finally, who would you like to see interviewing next on European Football Weekends, and do you have his/her number? If you are trying to find out if I have the numbers of famous people - then I can offer you one of the Chuckle brothers or Patrick Kielty. I know, life in the showbiz fast lane eh?
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