FA Cup filming: star beers

(by peter)

It’s not every day you get to chew the footballing cud with an Olympic gold medallist, a comedian, a high-flying presenter and Robbie Savage.

But then FA Cup Final is renowned as a day when remarkable things can happen – and so it proved at Wembley when I went in to film with sports channel ESPN on the day of the big match.

Ours was a breakfast show featuring all kinds of fun and games, including my feature on local beers from the Stoke and Manchester areas.

As per my previous blog, Our beers of the week, I’d chosen some brilliant brews from smaller independent producers: Stone Banker (Lymestone), Titanic Stout (Titanic), Manchester’s Finest (Hyde’s) and Moonraker (JW Lees).

Tasting along with me were anchor Mark Durden-Smith, a brilliantly personable and witty presenter, and former professional footballer turned award-winning media commentator Robbie Savage. Representing Stoke was Olympic gold medal-winning hockey player Imran Sherwani, while actor/comedian Archie Kelly (Phoenix Nights) was fighting the Mancunian corner.

You can watch the bit of the show in which I appear by clicking on this link. There’s also a short video filmed afterwards where I talk a bit more about the beers direct to camera here. Both links go through to the ESPN site.

Although Robbie doesn’t drink beer (more on which below) and Mark isn’t a great fan, the feature was lots of fun). Imran was very taken with the Stone Banker – brewed specifically for Stoke’s cup run – and took a bottle home with him. Archie went for my top tip, Moonraker.

For those who aren’t familiar with Robbie Savage, he was a combative midfielder who tended to arouse both passionate support and virulent antipathy as a player. A Welsh international, he played for a number of top-flight clubs including Leicester City, Birmingham City and Blackburn Rovers.

I was wondering what it would be like to meet him, so it was gratifying to learn that not only is he softly spoken and with an engaging glint in his eye, he’s also something of a wine fan. Apparently, Kiwi Pinot Noir, Te Koko (Cloudy Bay’s oaked Sauvignon) and Provençal rosé are his tipples of choice – a glass a night with his meal. (I told him this was very healthy, which he was delighted to learn.)

He’s asked for a few wine suggestions, too, so I’ll be sending him some ideas (top tips welcome – I was thinking along the lines of red Burgundy, white Bordeaux and Navarra rosé…)

Although I had to leave before the big game, Wembley was looking stunning in the early morning sunlight, as a small army of groundsmen fussed over the impeccable turf (which I’m assured is a mixture of synthetic fibres and real grass). It was great to be able to take in the atmosphere from pitch level – even empty, the stadium seems both imposing and quite intimate.

What a fantastic stage for the Stoke and Manchester players to play on.

Congratulations to Manchester City, the eventual winners on the day. We had a guest visit from the FA Cup before it was presented to Manchester City. This was a cue for everyone (even Olympic gold medallists) to have their mug shot taken with what must be one of the most famous pieces of silverware on the planet.

All in all, a day worth celebrating – with a fine ale.