Danny Bakers Internet Treehouse

Total Sport December 1997 Questionnaire page

(interview by Jamie Broadbent)

Were you any good at sport at school?

Yes, unbelievably. At primary school I played for my borough, then at secondary school I was captain and picked the team. But when I was about 12 I got involved in rock'n'roll and football just tailed off.

Who was the best at sport in your year?

Mark Jeffries, centre half and our tallest player. I'd make friends with the opposition, but he took control, shouting and pointing, which was brilliant.

Who was your sporting hero as a child?

Len Julians, Millwall's number nine when I first went. I didn't see them lose for three years - we set a record of 59 home games unbeaten.

Do you have any treasured sporting ephemera?

I still have my brother's old wooden rattle. He wrote 'Up The Loins' on it, instead of 'Up The Lions'.

Have you ever asked for a sports star's autograph?

Millwall's 1967/68 team : Stepney, Gilchrist, Cripps, Jones, Snowdon, Wilson, Rowan, Julians, Brown, Dunphy, Neil. I went to watch them train as I lived near the ground - I still do - and I got them all.

The absolute peak of your own sporting career?

My Sunday league club's sports day. I went off like a hare in the 800m and incredibly no-one caught up. I'll never forget it. I still have the medal, but can you believe it? Me, aged 12, the fastest boy over 800m?

What was the first sporting event you attended?

In 1965 I saw Millwall beat Newport 4-0, then we beat Doncaster 4-1. I sat in the same seat - Row B, Block C, Seat 26 - next to my dad for years.

Who's the best sports star you've seen in person?

Paul Gascoigne. He's the best footballer I've ever seen, the best in the world. What he's got is chaos. He is chaos, in his life and on the pitch and when he gets the ball there isn't anybody who knows what's going to happen. Yeah, he may louse up sometimes, but then when he doesn't...wow!

And the greatest team you ever saw?

Stepney, Gilchrist, Cripps, Jones, Snowdon, Wilson, Rowan, Julians, Brown, Dunphy, Neil. No doubts.

Where were you in 1966 and 1990?

I was nine in 1966 and saw the game at home, until the Germans equalised and my dad went mad. I was so frightened I climbed over the wall and went to Tommy Hodges' sweet shop to watch extra time. In 1990 I was there, for television. I had to see if I could leave Britain the day before the game, hitch hike to Turin and still get in. It was surprisingly easy, so I had to make imaginary problems to get round.

What do you know about American sport?

Nothing. I have no interest at all - though I do know a bit about basketball from playing Nintendo.

What TV sport do you switch off?

Most of them - the only ones I seek out are football and boxing. I have no interest in any of the others.

What is your most blissful sporting moment?

I thought it didn't get any better than Len Julians' last-minute equaliser when we equalled the home record. But then we went to Anfield in 1988. It was a liberty for Millwall even to play Liverpool, but we actually went 1-0 up. It finished 1-1, but I thought I'd died and gone to heaven when Stevens scored.

And the very worst?

When we finally lost at home, 2-1 to Plymouth, although we did set fire to their coaches, so honour was satisfied. I also felt pretty bad when Palace equalised off Jim Cannon's arse in a cup game.

What is the craziest sports-connected thing you've ever done?

Commentating on a sport called korfball. I had to pretend to like this ludicrous sport. I remember thinking that selling Daz door to door would be a real climb up the career ladder.

Have you ever fancied a sportsman/woman?

You bet. There's a track on a National Lampoon album, That's Not Funny That's Sick, which has someone commentating on gymnastics who says "Boy, I'd like to f**k her." His colleague replies "Well done, I'm no lezzie but..." All sports are sex, every single one.

If you could swap places with any current sports star, who would it be?

I wouldn't. I've got a pretty good job and I've never wished I was a footballer. The football fan and the football player are two completely different animals and I love being a football fan.

Have you any friends who are sports stars?

I know a lot of footballers but the only one I socialise with is Paul Gascoigne, and we never talk about the game. I've never wanted to hang out with footballers. I'm not a football whore and I don't wish to be

What do you think of Manchester United?

I'm all for them. I can understand people not liking them, but I do. I've started to go off the Man United industry a bit, but that's out of their control. I'd like them to be European champions, because I want people to look at English football abroad and think "We're scared of that. They're the best."

Who in sport needs a kick up the arse?

Cossetted, never-paid-for-a-ticket, anti-English, puffed-up, scented handkerchief English football writers.

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