Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
The culinary exhibition put on in preparation for the ‘unfinishable’ breakfast at O’Neills in Wimbledon was a sight to behold.
A combination of pork chops, steak burgers, sweet potato, spaghetti and milk the night before left my stomach at ease but the pre-game butterflies couldn’t be quenched.
After a sleepless night packed full of stress and worry I couldn’t help but ponder if I’d over trained by putting too much fuel in the tank and also whether my mushroom phobia would spoil the breakfast party.
I kept the warm-up to a minimum with just a glass of water and a solitary pear passing my lips and headed for SWL Towers staring my nemesis in the eye en-route.
After our daily news meeting I, along with my chaperone Andy accompanying me in case of a grease-induced coma, meandered up Wimbledon Broadway in search of calories and a place in the history books.
Upon entering the lovely waitress who greeted us scoffed at my claims of besting the ‘unfinishable’ and advised my ally to have emergency services on speed dial.
My pre-match tactic to visit the little boys’ room and collect my thoughts worked a treat and having psyched myself up I settled down at the table.
I waited with trepidation for my challenge to arrive but was shocked when the gargantuan plate arrived.
Sometimes pictures don’t tell a thousand words.
I’d grossly underestimated the size of the task (and the meal). Complacency, the silent killer, had been allowed to creep into my psyche.
At the risk of sounding like a lyric from The Twelve Days of Christmas the meal, which was served on a giant bed of potato and onion hash, contained four juicy pork sausages, four crispy grilled back-bacon rashers, three fried eggs, grilled tomatoes and the dreaded flat mushrooms.
Oh and the small matter of a large bowl of baked beans and four slices of toast on the side.
I was now David to the breakfast’s Goliath.
And so the challenge of consuming the grease-fuelled concoction of more than 4,500 calories began.
Mushrooms are my kryptonite. But what better way to deal with your biggest fear than tackle them head on?
First up, a mushroom and sausage mix to get those horrible fungi off my large skillet.
Washed down with water I surprised myself how quickly I eliminated those not-so-little blighters.
Realising the importance of not leaving the significant ‘fillers’ such as bread, potato and beans until the end I chipped away at them throughout.
The first 15 minutes were a scorching success with vast quantities demolished and a genuine belief that I could tame this beast of a breakfast.
Then the meat sweats kicked in. My body became clammy but I manfully carried on.
What doesn’t clog your coronary arteries only makes you stronger… or so they say.
My cup was beginning to overflow, my stomach could take little more but I was yet to play my wild card.
MAN V FOOD: Has he ‘bean’ defeated?
The change that could win the title. The springing of United’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer from the bench.
I deliberately left it until motivation was at an all-time low.
And so I stood up at the 30-minute mark, loosened the buckle and whipped off my belt to reveal a tiny space for food.
I was digging deep as history beckoned. What was left to conquer was minute but the task was greater than ever – baked beans were now my Everest.
INGLORIOUS BREAKFAST: Exhausted but still with a trick up his sleeve
A small heap of ridiculously tiny little pulses stood between me and immortality.
Everything in my brain told me to quit – no shame in not crossing the line.
But just as thoughts of waving the white flag reared their ugly heads The Dubliners and The Town That I Love So Well roared through the speakers.
VICTORIOUS! Michael celebrates with an O’Neill’s server
This was no longer Man versus Food – the pride of my nation was at stake.
Those last 10 beans were the hardest but they were worth it.
I may be a couple of kilos heavier but Everest had been scaled. History made.
I’m the first person in Wimbledon to complete the meaty challenge – I finished the unfinishable!