Date:Wednesday February 25 2009
We speak to one of the most recognisable faces in comedy - the BBC's 'Mock The Week' star and Bristol City supporter Mark Watson - ahead of the Championship clash between City and Blackpool at Ashton Gate on Saturday.
Hi Mark, last time we spoke to you getting to games was proving a difficult task, are you still as busy as usual and finding it tricky to watch The Robins?
Yeah - I've managed a couple this season but my tour is making things difficult as usual. For the Blackpool game I think I'm somewhere in Yorkshire.
Bristol City currently sit comfortably in the top half of the table, do Gary Johnson's men have what it takes to repeat last seasons' feat of reaching the playoffs?
A few weeks ago you would have said definitely not, but we've put together quite a run, so - who knows? We've definitely not been as consistent this year, but then, hanging around the top six is not the way to get promoted, as everyone knows. The way to do it is to sneak into 6th place on the last day of the season, and then beat all the exhausted, demoralised sides in the playoffs. So I think that must be Gary Johnson's plan, hence all the defeats before Christmas to avoid getting too high too soon. Clever stuff.
Since the early 1980's the two clubs' fortunes have been fairly parallel, do City supporters see Blackpool as a similar club? Or, like all Championship, League One, and probably some League Two clubs, do you piss yourself laughing at us?
Personally I see Blackpool as an excellent example of a club run successfully on a small budget. It warms the heart to see a club of modest resources win away at giants like Birmingham and Palace. In many ways I do see us as similar clubs - when I look back to the 1990s I can recall any number of dour City-Blackpool games with both sides toiling in mid-table of League One. It's good to see we've both moved on from playing the likes of Brentford and Walsall (for some reason they were always my two most depressing visiting clubs).
City bought Crewe striker Nicky Maynard for around £2m in the summer, and so far has contributed nine goals, was he worth the money?
He had a slow start, but I think five of those goals have come in his past five starts, so we're starting to see him settle. He's a bit of a confidence player and probably was affected by the need to justify the price tag, which is a shame: it's not his fault he cost 2 million...
Lee Trundle has spent the last month and a half on loan at Leeds United - does he have a future at Ashton Gate and how do you rate him?
He's always been a bit of an enigma. Works hard, obvious talent, and has made some vital contributions (notably, the goal that took us to Wembley last year)... but he's never managed to find the net the way he did for years at Swansea, and has ended up being played out wide. I'd like to think he does have a future at the Gate.
It was reported in January that a few Championship clubs, including ourselves, were chasing striker Dele Adebola. The Nigerian was once labelled a donkey, but Gary Johnson is keen to keep hold onto him - what and who has changed him to transform his career?
He's been excellent recently. I think anyone who's big and a bit clumsy-looking like him risks being labelled a donkey; we used to have Shaun Goater before he was at Man City and people often knocked him, but he got 20 goals a season. In Dele's case maybe it is the Gary Johnson factor, or maybe he's been on a bit of a mission to prove himself since he left Coventry. Whatever it is, it's working for us.
In the summer the club didn't make many new signings, whereas Blackpool have brought close to 30 players in, either permanently or on loan, spanning over the last nine months - is it clear that a consistent City team can achieve their goals, or does the club need new blood in?
Certainly we've benefited from having consistency in the squad; we're a team of few stars and most of the recent success has come from that team spirit you get from a settled side. Whether we can make that extra leap into the Premier with the players we've got, is a big question. But we were pretty quiet in the transfer window, so Johnson obviously believes so, and we've gone from 18th to 4th since Christmas so maybe he has a point...
Looking towards the game, which Bristol players should we pay special attention to?
Michael McIndoe - he's behind a lot of the chances we create. If he has a quiet game, we tend to struggle to make inroads. I shouldn't really tell you this. Don't pass any of it on, will you?
And any Blackpool players you're worried about facing?
Gary Taylor-Fletcher, if he's playing. I rate him highly and he always used to score against us when he was at Huddersfield. He's one of those players that get a jinx on you.
'Pool have won only once in ten seasons at Ashton Gate (a 4-2 victory in 2006) - what are the chances of this sequence continuing on Saturday?
Our home form has been what's let us down this season - we've been much better away, unusually - so it can't be ruled out. Also we were somewhat lucky to win at Blackpool on the opening day of the season. There's not much between the sides. So we'll see.
And finally, a prediction…
I'm going for us to win scrappily, 1-0, a bit like at Bloomfield Road. I'm not very good at predictions, though.
Date:Wednesday February 25 2009
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