To my knowledge, Leicester had only played two games in Asia (both in Bangkok) ahead of the Premier League Asia Trophy in Hong Kong. No doubt a few others had been to both of them but the only person I know to have seen the matches against the Thailand national team (2010) and Everton (2014) is the BBC Radio Leicester commentator Ian Stringer. I was keen to know if he’d be heading to Asia again to work on this pre-season tournament so I asked him as soon as my boss had granted time off work to attend it.
He wasn’t too sure at that time but messaged me a few weeks later saying that he would indeed be present for it. He also asked if I wanted to come on the regular Monday night Football Forum show. Of course I didn’t think twice about that and jumped at the chance before realising moments later that it would be live meaning it would be a late night as 6pm UK time is 1am in Hong Kong.
When it comes to Leicester City it usually results in me having to get up at ungodly hours so it was quite apt that it was to be that way again. Having got back from my rainy day trip to Macau much later than expected I didn’t really have any time to unwind and relax before heading back out again (via tram) to the Regal Hong Kong Hotel in Causeway Bay where Ian was staying. I thought our hotel was quite nice but it was nothing compared to the marble floors and huge glass panelled windows of the Regal.
The last time I was properly on the radio was when Jason Bourne interviewed me for a Boot Room Special show in 2016 and though I sat in on the Football Forum in January 2015, I never actively took part. That was of course studio based but this was all done in the hotel lobby area which was pretty much vacant at that time of the night. All a far cry when compared to the vibrant and bustling cafes and bars from the pre-Champions League shows transmitted during the last campaign!
I thought I should give myself about an hour preparation time so arrived just after midnight but there really was nothing to do other than speak when spoken to! As a radio geek, it was just interesting for me to watch Ian getting things set up with the people back in the Radio Leicester Studios. I did hear him going through some kind of running order which gave me an idea about what he may ask me (he never did though!) and he reassured me that I’d be alright as all I needed to do was give a fans view whilst he and journalist Graham Bryce would discuss all the transfer speculation.
He spoke to Graham first and I started to get a little bit nervous. That was no doubt apparent in my first few sentences as I got a bit tongue tied. Worse though was my first word which was an in-joke catchphrase. I think it goes back to when former Foxes striker Alan Young used to be on the programme and was talking about Swiss airplanes or something like that and Ian responded with “Halloooo” in an anorak-type voice which we then repeated a lot during his time in Tokyo in 2014 and thereafter. It doesn’t sound particularly funny when written down here but it’s kept us amused over the years and when he said it to me live on the show I couldn’t help but respond with that which probably bemused everyone listening!
Graham was working on an article during the show whilst I was redundant for much of it so thought I’d snap some pictures ready for this post on Tokyo Fox! Foxes cult hero Ian Marshall was the other guest throughout the show and I’d have loved to meet him but he was sadly back in a studio in the UK and, due to the set up of this outside broadcast (OB), I couldn’t even hear his views or the callers opinions until I listened back to the show.
Despite the jet lag, Ian did a seamless and very professional job (including reading the news at half past the hour from his phone with relative ease) whilst Graham and I sat opposite him and talked quietly until called upon for some expert opinion! I’m not sure much of what I said made any sense at times and I certainly contradicted myself too but it’s not like anyone (apart from me!) will listen to it and scrutinise it too much. For what it’s worth, my comment about my level of happiness regarding the business the club has done thus far were just ramblings that made no real sense!
Hopefully I regained a bit of respect with my thoughts on the embarrassment of riches at the club in the striker department. Not sure I really answered the question that was asked but I certainly waffled on about both Okazaki and Ulloa and rehashed parts of my J-Soccer magazine article about the former from last Summer’s issue.
We all chatted for five minutes or so once the show was off air before they headed to their rooms for some much needed sleep ahead of the first press conference the following morning. The metro and trams had long finished for the night so I decided to walk back as my maps app said it could be done in an hour. In the end I did it in 50 minutes and the podcast of the show was already up online when I got back to our hotel but I refrained from listening to it till the next day though as I needed some sleep too.
Click here to read ‘Hong Kong 2017 Pt I: Watching Leicester In The Premier League Asia Trophy