Guest editor Alan Birchenall answers your questions!
Readers have been sending in questions for our guest editor, Alan Birchenall. Here is a selection, with The Birch's answers.
Q. Having known The Birch for several years as a friend, I have made him a wide variety of puddings over this time, ranging from treacle sponge and custard to chocolate gateau!
I would like to ask him - what is your favourite pudding and why?
A. It’s treacle sponge and custard! What better? Thank you Cindy.
Right, I’m ready for another one.
Q. What is different [in football now] from your days as a player?
There doesn’t seem to be the passion and enjoyment of playing these days (to me).
Is it all about the money, and not the sport, anymore?
A. Hello Eileen, first of all. There’s always a good question from you.
Well, you know from my time that I never came off a football pitch without having a laugh with the referee and an opponent or supporters. Don’t see it nowadays so much.
Obviously the rewards are far greater today than they were in my time, and I’m not complaining. As you know Eileen, I enjoyed every minute!
Q. If you were to appear on Room 101, what would be your pet hates?
A. Buy the Mercury tomorrow and find a load of Birchy’s grumpies!
Q. As a life long supporter of Leicester City, I am extremely sad to hear the adverse comments regarding the current manager, Nigel Pearson.
Alan, you have been terrific for the club and know your football. surely you acknowledge the job Nigel is doing for the football club.
Some of the football this season has been superb, we have several potential match winners playing in the side, for the first time for a number of years. We have a young squad and we will see blips along the way, but I believe we can see exactly what Nigel is building.
Things are a little different from Sven's time. There seems a real purpose and plan in Nigel's methods, I think the club should stand by the manager, if we don't achieve promotion this season it shouldn't mean a change of manager.
We have had too many changes in recent years, it is now surely time for some stability.
Finally with your character, I think it would be more beneficial for the club that you "stoke up" the atmosphere prior to the remaining games of the season. What do you think?
I was a regular during the great Jimmy Bloomfield years and he was treated badly by the "fans" at the end of his stint with the club.
Stick with Nigel.
Keep the Faith.
Regards, Bud Franks
A. Dear Bud, that is spot on actually. Thanks for your lovely insight.
The only thing that would have been different had I sent the email would have been 'Birch' at the end instead of 'Bud', because it is spot on. It’s everything that I would have said myself. Obviously the football connoisseur - and I mean that in the nicest possible way.
Times have changed from our day. Managers were given a decent chance, as opposed to not years now, not weeks, but sometimes days. Crazy.
This is the same side that was playing some of the most attractive football I have seen in all my time associated with the club. But I have also seen over the years confidence ebb away overnight, and this is what’s happened to the boys.
It’s a young team, and unfortunately lack of confidence has come at the wrong time, but we still have eight cup finals to go and hopefully the break in Portugal will energise the boys, and Nigel as well because he is doing everything possible to get us back on track.
Thanks a lot, Bud, for your email and taking the time to contact me. And by the way, I’m having an awesome day!
Bingo Birch...they’ve got me doing bingo tonight at the King Power
Q. How does the frantic, tense, passionate cut and thrust of the Mercury newsroom compare with the Filbert Street dressing room back in the ‘70s?
All the best,
A. Good question! Let’s put it this way, it’s completely different. I don’t see anybody here in the Mercury offices today walking round with a jock strap on and little else. That is the first difference!
Certainly the pressure - and there is pressure prior to a game - and I’ve found here at the Mercury that there is a level of pressure in making sure that day’s paper is up to scratch.
There is pressure, but a different kind of pressure. Good question!
Q. Do you intend to relax after your taxing stint as Mercury editor with a glass or two of ‘happy water’ at the Leicester Camra Beer Festival on Bay Street, Leicester, where there is such a magnificent choice of beers and ciders for you to try?
If not, why not?
We would love to see you there. Open licensing hours Friday and Saturday.
John Spencer, for and on behalf of Tracey Sales, Leicester Camra Committee Member.
A. Obviously, this is somebody who has taken a beverage of happy water with me, as they know that is what happens when I appear in my local. I have been known on occasions to take a libation or two of happy water!
Q. Birch, just where is your accent from? It ain’t quite Leicester. Is it that place up the road? You also have a certain cockney twang mixed in!
Keep up the good work.
A. I was born in the East End. My mother was born within the sound of Bow Bells so she was a true Cockney, and I’ve got to put my hand up and admit that I spent my youth in that place up the A46 who we have a great rivalry with now - the team wears a reddish-colour strip.
But can I add, my saving grace is my father always took me to Notts County games, so don’t worry, Forest were and still are our fiercest opponents.
And then, of course, as everyone who knows me well knows, I have my own “Birchy-isms”.