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The Adrian Durham Q&A Interview
Exclusive to talkSPORT1089.co.uk

Adrian Durham hosts Evening Kick-Off and Football First on talkSPORT
which is the best place for news, chat, discussion and action on the
beautiful game and some of the best pundits on the radio.

On Monday, Adrian is joined by Gabriele Marcotti & Guillem Balague to
discuss the latest football news and action from the European football
scene right across the continent. On Tuesday and Wednesday, it could be
live commentary, reports and updates from around the grounds or phone-in
debate. And on Thursday itís all the Nationwide League action on Football
First, Second and Third alongside Ray Houghton on talkSPORT.

In his childhood, Adrian grew up watching Peterborough United, but has
made a full recovery! He stills sees them when he can and if the Posh
knock one in while he's on air, fists are clenched and he's out of his seat! He's never short of an opinion, but with a background in news journalism he knows the importance of getting the facts right.

He's interested in most other sports, has a passion for rugby league in particular, supporting Hull FC and getting to The Boulevard when he can. Adrian's sporting heroes including current Real Madrid and England Captain David Beckham, Former US Masters Winner Nick Faldo, Garry Schofield, Former England Cricket Captain Ian Botham and the current presenter of Sky Sports Soccer Saturday show Jeff Stelling.

You went to the great Hull University in your days as a student, but what did you do before you started working in radio, broadcasting and before talkSPORT?
I have been working in radio since I was 20, so I guess I was just a student before I got into it. I started off reporting on football matches part-time and among the jobs I also had at the same time were working in bars, pubs and clubs, ncluding the Tuxedo Royale (think it's called the Tuxedo Princess now) which is a boat under the Tyne Bridge in Newcastle. It has a revolving dance floor and I served both Micky Quinn and Gazza during my stint there. The job which drove me to succeed in radio though was packing frozen fish fingers in Hull.

You have worked for both BBC and commercial radio stations before joining talkSPORT. Which radio stations you work for and what were your roles at those stations?

I freelanced all over the place covering football matches - Tfm in Middlesbrough, Pennine (now The Pulse) in Bradford where I first met Chris Cooper about 12 years ago, and Red Rose Radio in Lancashire , but the place I got my first ever work was at Hereward FM in Peterborough. I was living in Newcastle at the time and I was asked to cover a midweek match between Hartlepool and Cambridge United in which Cambridge won 2-1. The big breakthrough came at Viking FM in Hull while I was at University there and I started reading sport.

After serving my time in Leeds and then back home in Peterborough, I moved to London and worked for Reuters who had the contract for Virgin Radio news, and after that I was at News Direct, Heart 106.2, Classic FM and covered football a few years ago for Capital Gold Sport and BBC Three Counties Radio. I used to cover Stevenage games for Three Counties, as well as writing for the Stevenage Mercury local newspaper and editing the Stevenage Borough FC matchday programme. I got a good knowledge of how a club works.

You have presented a number of shows on talkSPORT, including The Sports Breakfast, 505 and Football First. However, which shows have you presented on talkSPORT since joining the station.
I started at the old Talk Radio in April 1999 reading breakfast sports news bulletins which was great fun. By September I was hosting the Saturday afternoon show Football First and haven't missed a Saturday during the football season for over 3 years, and then when we became talkSPORT I started hosting the breakfast show. After that I started doing evening shows in the week, and for the past 2 years I have also been doing 505. I guess Saturday afternoon 2:00pm-5:00pm is my favourite because I put a lot into it and get a lot out of it. But I always wanted to do 505 and thoroughly enjoyed the 2 years Lawrie and I had on the show.

You worked with Lawrie McMenemy on 505 for around 2 seasons, what was it like working with Lawrie since he has been a sucessful manager with Southampton and Northern Ireland?
Always lively, always exhausting. Let me say straight up all the arguments we had on air were genuine. He admitted to me at the end of last season that if it wasn't for the fact we worked together he would have chinned me for saying some of the things I did. 505 was the show I wanted to do right from the start so to achieve that has been great. Doing it straight after Football First has been a killer though. Saturday nights I get home at 9 and I am wiped out. It was a brilliant 2 years doing 505 with Lawrie, and I shall miss it, but it's probably the right time to move the show on. Lawrie phoned me a couple of weeks ago so we shall stay in touch. As much as we used to argue we knew we had a good thing going. I have family in Southampton so I shall no doubt pop in to see him when I am down there.

Gary Newbon has presented 505 before on talkSPORT. What do you think of Garyīs career in sports broadcasting and do you aspire to do some of things he has done?

Gary also worked on my first show, which was Football First on Saturdays back in September 1999. He had his "finger on the Premiership pulse" or something like that. I used to watch him on Central, and before that ATV when I was growing up. So to work with him has been great. He is so well respected in the game that he can afford to have an opinion and not worry about who he might upset. I'm a big believer in having 2 people presenting shows so they can bounce off each other and fire up the debate, but if there is a man who can do it on his own it's Gary Newbon. I always used to listen and shall listen again this season.

You hosted a mid-morning phone-in show with Chelsea Chairman Ken Bates in 2001. What was it like working with Bates and did you work well together?
It was good, I did a lot of research on Ken before the show and I wouldn't say I was nervous but I knew there was an element of unpredictability about him. But we had good fun doing it and enjoyed it. He's OK. I survived!

Gabriele Marcotti describes you as "exceptionally well prepared and one of the hardest working people I have worked with". Would you describe him in the same way?

I don't doubt he has those qualities but he also has a capacity to retain an amount of knowledge and information. He's got opinion he can back up with facts and figures, and that comes through hard work and research I am sure. He's a very intelligent man and has real character. I'm flattered he said that.

You have worked with some huge names from the world of football including Ray Houghton, Alvin Martin, Lou Macari and Paul Walsh. How does it feel to be in the presence of these people everyday?
Good question because I try not to take it for granted as it's a very special job I have and I love it. I remember working at the old London News Radio and walking down a corridor bumping into George Best. It was a stunning moment to be confronted by a football genius so we just said a quick hello and that was it. Chance missed I guess. With the guys you mention they are all good to work with and here's an example, the second show I did with Ray he brought in an Ireland shirt and handed it to me, I got him to sign it, and it hangs on the wall in my house. I thought that was a touch of class. I offered him one of my old Peterborough shirts but for some reason he declined. Can't think why!

What time do you get into the talkSPORT studios for Football First during the Week and on Saturday, also what preparation do you make for the show?
If I am on air at 7:00pm I am in the office between 2:00pm-3:00pm but I spend a couple of hours reading papers and surfing the net at home in the morning as well. For the Europe and Nationwide shows I always send a detailed email from home to my producer and to co-presenters with suggestions for the show. Once I get in, my producer, assistant producer and I sit down, talk through what we want to do with the show, what kind of people we want to talk to. If necessary I call my co-host and explain what's happening so they can start thinking things through, and then I get on with researching stuff on the net, and talking to the drivetime team about what they're doing. Andrew McKenna plays a vital role because he is on top of all the breaking news and keeps me well informed with anything that's going on.

Saturdays are different: on air at 2:00pm, I do a load of research on Friday nights at home, and then I'm in the office at 9:00am to type out fixture lists, and compile stats and facts on all the games from SPL to Conference to Premiership. By the way Macca said in his Q&A that I had once been off sick and I can assure you I have not had one day off sick since I started working at talkSPORT. My lawyers have been in touch with him.

As you have worked on a number of timeslots on talkSPORT, have any major news or sports stories broken whilst you have been on air and how did you handle the story?

Howard Wilkinson got the sack in the middle of Football First in Europe last season so we just chucked all the Euro stuff out of the window and talked Wilko and Sunderland. Marcotti was priceless as you can imagine. There must have been more but probably too many for one to stand out.

You were the first host of talkSPORT's Sports Breakfast back in January 2000 when the station launched. How much would you say you have improved since those early days three years ago?

Talk about a loaded question! We are assuming I needed to improve on the basis of that show then? If that is the assumption it is spot on. It was appallingly bad, everything about that breakfast show makes me hurt when I think back. I carried on doing the Saturday Football First show through that time and that never suffered but that Breakfast show was on a collision course with the giant radio axe: everything about it needed changing, including me, and everything was changed. And now it's a first class product. I was too serious I think, and having come from a news background I guess I was still learning to relax as a presenter. I've filled in on breakfast since then and enjoyed it.

Working for a number of news and sports media organisations must give you the chance to interview some big names. Who has been the biggest sporting name you have interviewed on talkSPORT?
David Beckham when he had the mohican a couple of years ago. He seemed a nice enough guy. We had to wait before doing the interview and talked about our children which was cool. I had to interview Tiger Woods whilst on my knees in front of him, my face was kind of groin high on Tiger, it was weird but worth it. My own personal favourite was Nick Faldo, he's my sporting legend and to watch him play, meet him and then interview him and shake hands was fantastic. The most fun one was one of my favourite players. Joe Cole. He had just broken into the England squad 2 years ago but was still a kid. As I interviewed him he was eating jelly babies and said being away with England was just like being on holiday! Later he was relegated to the U21's

Having worked on a number of radio stations for a number of years both for the BBC and commercially, would you ever like to venture from radio and work in television?
Actually I have just done some work this summer with Eurosport presenting some football and I got some good feedback. I reckon there are 2 reasons why people get into radio: either they want to be famous, or they love radio. I grew up listening to radio, loving it and wanting to work in it. The ones who want to be famous will go on to TV but for me it isn't the ultimate goal. If it happens then great, but if not, I'm doing a job I love so I won't be unhappy. I am certainly not keen in any way to leave my current position.

As a massive fan of a number of sports including football, rugby league and golf, you must have been to a number of big events. What is the best sporting event you have been to and why?
I think the Open Championship takes some beating. Any golf tournament is a great day out, but the Open is all day, it's by the sea, and it's a truly traditional event with an enormous sporting history. It makes me glad to be alive to be at the Open, apart from when I'm interviewing Lee Westwood.

Personally I have been to both of Peterborough's Wembley play off victories, but the best occasion as a Posh fan had to be at Huddersfield in the play off semi 2nd leg in 1992. We were never in front in the whole tie until we scored with 3 minutes left to win 4-3 on aggregate and set up our first ever trip to Wembley.

Who were your idols as a child, sporting or otherwise?
I grew up watching Peterborough and one player who always gave 100%, worked hard on and off the pitch, is a terrific family man and a good lad as well is Micky Halsall, now first team coach at Walsall. I got to know him when I started reporting on Peterborough matches and he was coach and then manager and he is one of the most genuine guys I have come across in the game. He was no Zinedine Zidane but his commitment and passion for the game was second to none.

In terms of broadcasting professionals who I really look up to now I would say Jeff Stelling because he's got everything - authority, humour, knowledge - he's top of the lot for me. Derek Thompson is as smooth as they come and thoroughly professional - seeing him broadcast was an education, and Sid Waddell is a master of the art of being expressive yet professional at the same time. I worked with him on a darts tournament in Rosslare, Ireland a few years ago and learned a tremendous amount.

How do you think Peterbrough will get on this season and what do you make of your new signing Christopher Kanu as he is related to Arsenal's Nwankwo Kanu?
We won't go down, but we certainly won't go up. I don't want to struggle like last season when the final position (11th) masked a season-long flirtation with relegation. I say flirtation, the clothes were off and there was serious necking going on we looked so doomed at one stage.

I saw Kanu pre-season when we beat Hitchin at Top Field 6-3 and to be honest I thought he dived into tackles too much and should have stood up more. He's exciting going forward from right back but I shall be interested to see how he performs defensively. Has to go down as a good signing though - I mean what self-respecting Posh fan would not want a Peterborough shirt with Kanu on the back? Watch out for Lee Clarke, son of former Northern Ireland striker Colin Clarke - I think he's going to be a top class player. Posh picked him up from local non-league and he can play a bit. He's been sent out on loan to Kettering.

You have often been critical of Peterborough Manager Barry Fry on Football First, Second and Third recently. What did you say to him when you spoke about his ability to manage the club last season?

I was invited to Nationwide's Manager of the Month lunch for Barry in April and we had some honest discussions, and a few accusations were flying. I've always said Barry was paid too much, but he is now taking a pay cut. And I think he would admit he has under-achieved in his time at Peterborough which is my other gripe. Those were points I put to him but Barry doesn't bear grudges, and has always been first class with me. I think he respects an honest opinion.

In addition to Barry Fry you have been a massive critic of Sven Goran Eriksson in recent months. Do you think Sven is the right man to lead us to World Cup or Euro 2004 glory?
If we win the World Cup or the European Championships then yes. But this friendly nonsense does my head in, chucking caps at everyone when they should be earned. And the way we played against Brazil in the quarter final of the World Cup left me feeling empty. No passion and a rare golden opportunity missed. Adam Crozier has as much football knowledge as you and I yet managed to persuade too many people that Sven was the messiah. It was like asking Max Clifford who should be England manager! I have interviewed Sven and he seems OK to me, but his salary is ridiculous, and he is not the son of God - he's just a football manager with a good club record - not brilliant, just good. Next time let's get a real winner in - Capello perhaps.

What books are you currently reading, and are there any that you have recently read that you would like to recommend to listeners?
I've just finished "Bonfire of the Vanities" by Tom Wolfe. I love the film, so decided to take on the book (at last) and it is excellent, but quite different from the movie. It's one of Marcotti's favourite books as well, coincidentally. I'm now waiting for Faldo's autobiography to come out this October.

What was the last CD you bought, and which CD's are in your car?

The Best of De La Soul. I was listening to them back in the late 80's and there is a track on their second album De La Soul Is Dead called "Millie Pulled A Pistol On Santa" which will make you laugh and cry. It's a very powerful song. I'm an 80's freak and the last time I was in the car Robert Palmer's Heavy Nova was on. Last gig I went to was Paul McCartney in Birmingham earlier this year - he was terrific. Favourites musically are Squeeze, The Smiths, The Clash and the Beatles. My daughter likes Kylie and S Club which are also in the car. My wife Jill has a couple of Morcheeba CDs in the glove compartment.

What do you think of The Sexy Kaufman Challenge?
I don't know anything about it but it must be surreal because the words Sexy and Kaufman do not go together. Actually Richard's a really good guy and we will stay in touch.

We would like to thank Adrian Durham for the chance to interview him. You can hear Adrian Durham from Monday to Thursday from 7:00pm and Saturday from 2:00pm on Football First on talkSPORT.

The Adrian Durham Q&A Interview
Football First in Europe
August 2003