So, as promised, here begins the start of the 12 Days of OptaJoke – For the next 12 consecutive days, we’ll be offering you a brand new piece of ‘gold’ from the team – from new podcasts to brand new blog series which we’ve never written before. To start off, lets find out more about us…
Ever wondered about the people behind OptaJoke? Of course you have! Well thanks to having some spare time on their hands, here’s a brief insight into them with a basic Q & A session.
***Artists impression of the team***
After being grilled extensively by a crack team of journalists, here is what they had to offer – they’ve been listed purely in the order they managed to get their profiles completed!
Also, they’re all available for public speaking performances, and are willing to appear at public events for decent sums of money!!
(NB – To not ruin your enjoyment, the answers to their trivia questions are at the very bottom of this blog!)
Preferred position & squad number: Centre-back & Squad Number 5
Footballer you most resemble: Gary Pallister
Supported Club: Swindon Town
Favourite club player of all time: Super Sam Parkin or Danny Invincible (although that’s partly just because of his name!)
Favourite ever player of all time: Eric Cantona
First football game you attended: Stratton Pups v Fairford Town Under 6’s in late 1992 (we lost 16-1) – or if you want to say a professional game, Swindon v Man United in 1993!
Favourite football match of all time: Liverpool 4 – 3 Newcastle United (April 1996) – Despite contenders such as the 2006 FA Cup final or 2008 Champions League final, from a neutral viewpoint it has to be this game – despite having no interest in either side, I can still remember sitting in my living room watching this incredible game from start to finish. To this day there’s never been a Premier League match like it.
Choice of filling of half-time pie: Steak
The moment you realised supporting England would be eternally frustrating: When sat in a hostel on a school trip to London watching David Beckham get sent-off against Argentina at France ’98
Favourite football video on YouTube: Although this has absolutely nothing to do with football, it was the funniest thing ever shown on Soccer AM, so technically counts!
The best football trivia question you have in your armoury: Which two players have scored for five different teams in the Champions League?
OptaJoke stat about you: 1,152 – I have spent 1,152 hours trying to think of fake stats for OptaJoke tweets since we started in May. Brainstorm.
You can follow Carl on Twitter here.
Preferred position & squad number: Anywhere across the back four. Squad Number 2
Footballer you most resemble: Hmm, at the risk of widespread ridicule, I’d go for Phil Neville. I’ve played both right and left back quite a bit, with the occasional spell as a defensive midfielder here and there too.
Supported Club: Watford FC
Favourite club player of all time: Lloyd Doyley, a lovable full back who has been with Watford since he was 11. Always bounced back from adversity better than ever, and even scored a goal last year too! His one and only goal in any competitive match that he has played in for the club from the under 12’s upwards I might add. A hero.
Favourite ever player of all time: Alan Shearer was the player that caught my imagine when growing up. The season I first took notice of football was 94/95 when he was banging them in for fun at Blackburn Rovers. He was the complete striker back then, could score all types of goals and must have been a nightmare to defend against.
First football game you attended: Watford 1 Blackburn Rovers 2, Coca Cola Cup Round 2 24/10/1995
Favourite football match of all time: Man United vs Chelsea Champions League final 2008. Despite not supporting either Manchester United or Chelsea this game will live long in my memory. More for the circumstance of where I was watching it than anything else. I was in a pub in Nottingham whilst at university and I got completely swept away with the drama of the game. When an arrogant Chelsea fan decided to mock the majority of Man United fans in the pub me and my mates in our slightly inebriated wisdom decided we would be Man United fans from there on in and when Nicolas Anelka missed the decisive penalty we were jumping for joy as if we had been Stretford End season ticket holders all of our lives. A perfect example of how football can transport you from reality and turn you into a shouting, jumping nutcase.
I must give a more than honourable mention to Watford vs Bolton in the 1999 play off final, it would easily take the crown of my favourite match of all time were it not for the fact that I couldn’t attend due to being on holiday in Menorca at the time! Watching Nicky Wright and Alan Smart send Graham Taylor’s little old Watford into the Premier League for the first time whilst in the hotel bar still ranks up there with my all time favourite footballing moments though. I’d give anything to have been at the old Wembley that day; just thinking of it brings a tear to my eye.
Choice of filling of half-time pie: Steak & Kidney
The moment you realised supporting England would be eternally frustrating: When Sol Campbell scored his second disallowed goal in a major tournament in Euro 2004
Favourite football video on YouTube, and why: I’m a sucker for watching compilations of great players finest moments on YouTube and they don’t come any better than Ronaldo. The original Ronaldo, Brazilian Ronaldo, Fat Ronaldo, Ronaldo that fainted in France 98, El Fenomeno. Whatever you want to call him, in my opinion he was the best player of his generation and deserves to be held up as one of the games all time greats. Just watch these videos and marvel at his genius…
The best football trivia question you have in your armoury: What do David Villa and Damien Duff have in common?
OptaJoke stat about you: 1257 – Number of pounds that I have unsuccessfully bet on football in my lifetime. Optimism.
You can follow David on Twitter here.
Preferred position & squad number: Right Wing & Squad Number 20.
Footballer you most resemble: Ryan Giggs without the designer stubble
Supported Club: Chelsea/Swansea
Favourite club player of all time: Gianfranco Zola
Favourite ever player of all time: Mark Hughes
First football game you attended: I have hazy recollections of a 7-0 win over San Marino that I can find no record of and perhaps Swansea versus Crystal Palace at the Vetch… I definitely remember watching Chelsea beat Aston Villa 2-0 at Villa Park in 1997 and then Villa beating Arsenal 3-2 on that fateful day in December of 1998 when a man dressed as Santa parachuted out of a plane, landed on top of the stand and then crashed to the ground in front of us. Great game of football though.
Favourite football match of all time: Newcastle United 5 – Manchester United 0 (1996) When I was young, I supported Manchester United. I’m not entirely sure why because my Dad’s a Newcastle fan but for a reason I will save for another time, I became a Chelsea fan in June 1995. The following season, I watched with joy as Manchester United (now my sworn enemy) went down to an incredible display by Newcastle. Peacock’s goal may have been controversial but Ginola’s strike is sublime and the icing on the cake comes from Philippe Albert. I was glued to the screen from start to finish!
Choice of filling of half-time pie: I prefer chips
The moment you realised supporting Wales would be eternally frustrating: As mentioned above, I remember seeing Wales beat San Marino in Cardiff Arms Park. There’s no record of the game taking place but I remember it. I suppose Wales’ ineptitude at international football is what drove me into the welcoming arms of mother rugby.
Favourite football video on YouTube: Only the best for me:
The best football trivia question you have in your armoury: Which footballer has scored a hattrick in League 2, League 1, the Championship, the Premiership, the League Cup, the FA cup and for his country?
OptaJoke stat about you: 400 – After correctly guessing Marc Hottiger on 20 Questions, it’ll take Jonathan Gravelle another 400 questions before he gets another one. Clueless.
You can follow Jonathan on Twitter here.
Preferred position & squad number: Right-wing – 7… but in reality Goalkeeper – 1. What else with this name?!
Footballer you most resemble: I always used to think of myself as a young Teddy Sheringham! Good eye for the game and a nice touch, but not the quickest…
Supported Club: Bury FC
Favourite club player of all time: Dean Kiely
Favourite ever player of all time: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
First football game you attended: Think it was United v Sheffield Wednesday or Bury v Darlington – both 95/96
Favourite football match of all time: If we’re talking from a neutral perspective, Liverpool 4 Newcastle 3 is up there. Best one of recent years would be Holland 1 Russia 3 at Euro 2008
Choice of filling of half-time pie: Chicken Balti
The moment you realised supporting England would be eternally frustrating: Euro 96 Semi-Final Extra Time – when Gazza slid in to meet Shearer’s cross… nightmare!
Favourite football video on YouTube: Purely because I’ll never tire of watching it:
The best football trivia question you have in your armoury: Which team holds the record for the biggest ever win in an FA Cup Final?
OptaJoke stat about you: 99 – Percentage of people who still think I’m the ex-footballer Mark Crossley. Gloves.
You can follow Mark on Twitter here.
Preferred position & squad number: Defensive Midfielder & Squad Number 4
Footballer you most resemble: Claude Makelele
Supported club: Aston Villa
Favourite club player of all time: Paul Merson
Favourite ever player of all time: Dennis Bergkamp
First football game you attended: Dave Busst’s Testimonial – Highfield Road – May 1997 – Coventry City v Manchester United (Eric Cantona’s last game, he announced his retirement 2 days later)
Favourite football match of all time: Aston Villa 5 – 1 Birmingham City April 2008
Choice of filling of half-time pie: Balti pie
The moment you realised supporting England would be eternally frustrating: Semi-final Euro ’96: England lose on penalties to Germany.
Favourite football video on YouTube: This one, for obvious reasons!
The best football trivia question you have in your armoury: Which is the only team in England in the last 40 years not to finish in the top six in any division?
OptaJoke stat about you: 7 – The number of conker matches I played with Martin Keown during High School. Vinegar.
You can follow David on Twitter here.
Name: Sam Andreas Fabregas Jarrett (some of that is untrue, I’ll let you decide which)
Preferred position & squad number: Central Midfield. Number 4
Footballer you most resemble: In terms of looks Samir Nasri however when I was younger I used to get compared to Cristiano Ronaldo a lot. I’m not complaining! In terms of raw footballing ability it has been said that I am like a young Corluka. Something not to be proud of…
Supported club: Arsenal
Favourite club player of all time: Dennis Bergkamp
Favourite ever player of all time: Too tough to call this. I’ll have to be boring and go for Zidane. I’m only 22 so it wouldn’t be right to pick a player from before my time. You can compile best of videos of lots of players from the past but unless you watch them in games live you will never truly appreciate them. That goal against Leverkusen in the Champions League final was an all time great on his ‘weaker’ foot. I spent hours studying his movement – unfortunately I didn’t have an ounce of talent!
First football game you attended: 21/02/1995 Arsenal V Nottingham Forest, Highbury. Arsenal won 1 – 0 thanks to Chris Kiwomya. Kiwomya is probably the only man born in Huddersfield who is from Ugandan descent.
Favourite football match of all time: AC Milan 0 Arsenal 2, San Siro, 04/03/2008. Truth be told Arsenal should have won the title that season. But this match stuck out for me mainly because nobody gave Arsenal a cat in hells chance of winning. If you watch the first goal back the celebrations after Fabregas scored are incredible, the lad is close to tears! Fabregas was only 21 when that match was played but he bossed it. One of the great nights for me.
Choice of filling of half-time pie: Meat and Potato all day long!
The moment you realised supporting England would be eternally frustrating:
(Summer, 1994) “Dad what’s the World Cup?”
“Well, its a tournament which is held once every 4 years and brings together the best national sides from across the world”
“ermm why are England not there then?”
“Its a long story son….”
Favourite football video on YouTube: For some reason this just cracks me up. An understandably irked Roy Keane keeps getting asked about the Thierry Henry handball conspiracy against Ireland. Then this happens. You can cut the tension in the room with a knife!
The best football trivia question you have in your armoury: (after a considerable amount of Google searching) Which is the only English league football ground to have a pub on every corner?
OptaJoke stat about you: 1 – Sam Jarrett is so unreliable he has only ever appeared on 1 episode of the OptaJoke Podcast. Lazy.
You can follow Sam on Twitter here.
Preferred position & squad number: Goalkeeper and number 1, although in reality more a 13.
Footballer you most resemble: On the field – GiGi Buffon. Off it – More like Danny Cadermateri
Supported Club: Leicester City
Favourite club player of all time: Steve Walsh – he was a rock at the back and was a textbook makeshift striker when needed. A genuinely nice guy too and he still writes about the goings on at the club.
Favourite ever player of all time: As a keeper I always loved watching Peter Schmeichel play, not only was he an absolute beast between the sticks but he loved a good last minute run into the oppositions box when United were behind. He made saves that most keepers could only ever dream of.
First football game you attended: Leicester City 3 – 3 Arsenal at Filbert Street. Dennis Bergkamp scored THAT hatrick. I was always going to be hooked after that wasn’t I?!
Favourite football match of all time: It’s biased because they are my club but we don’t win things very often so i’ll pick Leicester 2 – 1 Tranmere Rovers at Wembley in 2000. That was my first trip to Wembley and my only one to date to watch City. Looking back it’s refreshing to look at a final which included a side from outside the top flight facing a mid table Premier League team and it was a great game too. It was all-square after 80 odd minutes and Matt Elliott popped up to score his second of the game to win it. I’ve still got the flag, foam hand and blue wig from that afternoon in my wardrobe!!
Choice of filling of half-time pie: Chicken Balti where available, failing that Steak and Kidney
The moment you realised supporting England would be eternally frustrating: England 2 – 2 Argentina World Cup ’98 – Everything about this game was why we get disappointed in England and it was the 1st World Cup I was into football. We concede early, come back to lead, throw that away, one of them acts like a numpty then we go out on pens!
Favourite football video on YouTube: I remember watching this goal over and over again when it was scored and it still baffles me today. This is what I love about football, watching a Brazillian left back try something audacious and seeing it come off was the best possible warm up for that 1998 World Cup finals.
The best football trivia question you have in your armoury: It’s an oldie but a goodie, Which team is closest to the River Mersey?
OptaJoke stat about you: 9,745 – The number of hours I have spent scouring Leicester in an attempt to track down Sven Goran-Eriksson. Elusive.
You can follow Jim on Twitter here.
Preferred position & squad number: I’m the big man up front wearing number 10, lump the ball up to me and I’ll most probably do very little with it other than lay it off. Don’t really like running either….I’m pretty much a perfect striker to play off.
Footballer you most resemble: On the pitch I let my mouth do the talking instead of my feet, that makes me Robbie Savage. Although I was once told I looked like Robin Van Persie.
Supported Club: Arsenal (and an interest in Huddersfield Town)
Favourite club player of all time: Robert Pires
Favourite ever player of all time: Thierry Henry; my first true love.
First football game you attended: Huddersfield Town vs Barnet (Barnet had lost like 7 on the bounce so my dad thought it was a good game to take his 5 year old to as he would inevitably result in a win…Town lost. It set the course for the rest of my life really)
Favourite football match of all time: Arsenal’s 3-0 demolition of Spurs in 2002 when Thierry took on half the Spurs team to score one of the greatest goals of all time.
Choice of filling of half-time pie: I worked at a football stadium for a bit, I know what’s in the pies…as a result I will just stick to the crisps please.
The moment you realised supporting England would be eternally frustrating: When David Beckham got sent off against Argentina.
Favourite football video on YouTube: See answer to question 8:
The best football trivia question you have in your armoury: I have a very poor memory for remembering ANYTHING. The only thing I can offer you is that Manchester United were the last team to win the top English division three years in a row. There are three other teams who have done it, name them?
OptaJoke stat about you: 5 – When I was 5 years old I broke my arm trying to fly. Icarus.
You can follow Dan on Twitter here.
Preferred position & squad number: Left Back – 3
Footballer you most resemble: Denis Irwin, a very ordinary left back.
Supported Club: Portsmouth
Favourite club player of all time: Arjan De Zeeuw – Captain in the Prem and an amazing centre back.
Favourite ever player of all time: Has to be Lionel Messi – what that lad can do with a football is incredible, when we are 80 we will still be talking about him.
First football game you attended: Don’t know!
Favourite football match of all time: Has to be Liverpool v AC Milan and that European Cup Final or Man Utd v Bayern Munich as another one of the best comebacks in football history.
Choice of filling of half-time pie: Chicken Balti
The moment you realised supporting England would be eternally frustrating: England v Brazil 2002 – The second Brazil goal, I knew that I would be stuck loving and hating my national team for life.
Favourite football video on YouTube: Stuart Pearce’s penalty against Spain at Euro ’96. As a left back as a kid I loved Pearce but knowing the history of the penalty miss previously and going up to take another and his reaction afterwards you knew he wanted to win as much as the fan’s did, you don’t see that as much from the pro’s these days. And what a man to have the minerals to go up and take one anyway, legend.
The best football trivia question you have in your armoury: What was Pompey’s original nickname?
OptaJoke stat about you: 4 – I spent 4 months in a full leg cast this year after breaking my leg playing football. Sideline.
Unfortunately Besty’s not on Twitter, but with a name like Alex Best, if you Google his name you’ll find lots of pictures of George Best’s ex-wife.
Preferred position & squad number: The playmaker in the hole, threading the balls through to the frontmen – wearing my lucky number 7 shirt
Footballer you most resemble: As a kid growing up I was always told I looked like Ole Gunnar Solksjaer so it has to be him, Sadly I couldn’t find the net like the baby-faced assasin though!
Supported Club: The mighty Nottingham Forest
Favourite club player of all time: Without doubt Stuart Pearce – the best left-back England’s ever had. Captained Forest for 12 years and had a no nonsense approach on the pitch. A left-who could defend hard, attack effectively and strike ferocious set pieces. ‘Psycho’ remains a legend.
Favourite ever player of all time: I’d say Stuart Pearce again – but growing up Michael Owen was a favourite player of mine, with explosive pace and one of the best finishers I’ve ever seen. Before all the injuries hit he was one of the top strikers in Europe – if not the world.
First football game you attended: Stuart Pearce’s testimonial match for Forest against Newcastle at The City Ground in 1996. The game ended up 6-5 to Forest with Pearce getting the winner. Mark Crossley (the goalkeeper, not the presenter of the pod!) scored and Newcastle boss Kevin Keegan gave himself a run-out. A cracking match!
Favourite football match of all time: It may be a bit of an obvious choice for an England fan, but the 5-1 victory over Germany was unforgettable. Germany having never lost a World Cup Qualifier at home, the agonising English defeats of 1990 and 1996 and the German’s win in the final match at the Old Wembley were swept aside as England tore Germany apart on their own turf – Michael Owen getting a hat-trick too. A remarkable result and a great day for any Three Lions follower.
Choice of filling of half-time pie: A classic hearty Steak and Kidney – after watching a dour 45 minutes of football getting soaked in a downpour it’s something to cheer you up!
The moment you realised supporting England would be eternally frustrating: World Cup 1998 against Argentina – a match with a rollercoaster of emotions. England looking like they can win it after Owen’s wonder goal, the Argie equaliser, Becks gets sent off, the joy of Campbell’s goal soon turning to disappointment as it was disallowed and David Batty missing the crucial penalty in the shootout. We don’t make it easy.
Favourite football video on YouTube: From ‘The Day Today’ it’s Alan Partridge’s very unique take on football commentary in the run up to World Cup 94. With lines such as ‘T**t! That was liquid football!’ it’s absolutely hilarious.
The best football trivia question you have in your armoury: Who is the only team to have played in the Premier League, the old Divisions 1, 2, 3 and 4, and Divisions 3 South and 3 North?
OptaJoke stat about you: 58 – Since forgetting Britain is actually in Europe, Toppo has spent the last 58 days reading atlases to improve his geography. Lost.
You can follow Toppo on Twitter here.
As promised, after all that, here are the answers to their football trivia questions:
Carl McQueen: (A: Zlatan Ibrahimovic & Hernan Crespo)
David Cameron Walker: (A: Both scored in pre-season friendlies against Watford!)
Jonathan Gravelle: (A: Rob Earnshaw)
Mark Crossley: (A: Bury, 6-0 against Derby in 1903)
David Reed: (A: Coventry City)
Sam Jarrett: (A: Brentford)
Jim Knight: (A: Stockport County)
Dan Bunker: (A: Liverpool, Arsenal and Huddersfield Town)
Alex Best: (A: The Shrimps! As our home kit used to be pink)
Steven Toplis: (A: Coventry City – yes, the same answer as David Reed’s!)
All photos are courtesy of David Baird and are all a couple of years old so we’re all a bit more wiser now…apart from Jim & Dan who didn’t have posh photo shoot pictures, so just had photos nicked from their Facebook!
You can also watch all those YouTube videos in one place on our YouTube account here.
Stay glued to the site for tomorrow and Day Two of the 12 Days of OptaJoke!