I'm back in Moscow for a day of prep and, more importantly, washing, after our team's 4 day trip to Sochi & Rostov - we rounded off that particular excursion with the Brazil/Switzerland game at the Rostov Arena. It's a mightily impressive looking construction right on the banks of the River Don that cuts a huge swathe through the centre of the city. The old port city itself is nowhere near as modern as the stadium, and it does look a little at odds with its surroundings as a consequence, but it's something for fans of FC Rostov to be undoubtedly proud of.
It's Sunday morning and I'm deep in the heart of a more 'traditional' part of Russia than the cosmopolitan capital city that I left behind 4 days ago. But before we got here to Rostov-on-Don, our team had first flown further south to Sochi by the Black Sea, and enjoyed 2 glorious days of unbroken sunshine and scorching temperatures...followed by the greatest football match I've ever had the privilege of commentating on.
It's day 5 of my 3rd World Cup trip abroad for talkSPORT and as I type I'm sat in my hotel room in Sochi from which I can see the Fisht Stadium complex about a mile away - and that's where my tournament as commentator properly starts in earnest later on.
Up until 20 years ago, nobody called me 'Dants'
I had my nicknames of course…Dougie Howser MD, Aitken Drum, Aitken Thespian Bland, Willy, Colin Medantos, Mr D, id, Scruffy, Harry Cliché, The Dr Of Shop, Rhythm, Pigpen, Piggy, Piggy Penster Man Not From Leominster…and the equally wordy Ian Danter Stalking Black Panther The Beast Of Bordesely Green.
Maybe it's just as well that 'Dants' has stuck lately.
It’s really gratifying when you see something you’ve invested time and patience with starting to bear fruit and justify why you started doing it in the first place.
A place that no longer exists, but whose influence, history and heritage is as important to Birmingham’s Rock music culture as any band or artist from that area. And I got to work there for 5 years.
There’s an awful lot of hand-wringing going on currently about the prospect of Birmingham City being relegated from the Skybet Championship, being as they are 2 points above the Bottom 3 as I type this with just 2 games left of a truly astonishing season – astonishing for all the wrong reasons.
But I’m not here to be yet another blogger picking the bones of the disastrous Rowett//TTA/Zola/Redknapp story. Others have written very eloquently on the struggles of the past few months and there’s no need for me to augment them.
I took my first foray into the world of ‘theatre’ rock shows at the weekend – and it was one hell of a good introduction.
Leather And Lace – my latest covers project that came to be nearly 2 years ago – is now getting bookings in UK theatres, after our debut night at a club in Chesterfield late last year to ‘work out the bugs’, as it were (see the recent blog on my site about how L&L got together and got to that stage, both literally and figuratively).
Consider what makes a truly great rock n roll frontman;
• Vocal ability and a unique style of delivery
• The skill to engage with and fire up an audience
I thought I'd post this some 24 hours on from the dreadfully sad news that Graham Taylor, former England, Watford and Villa boss, has passed away at the age of 72. A man universally loved and respected by his peers and fans alike - the tributes from all and sundry that I read and listened to were something else. Brilliant memories.
Then, I was asked by a pal whether I could tell the story of how my impressions caused me a moment of sheer panic at the hands of Graham Taylor himself...so here goes...