One of the most important developments of the last 20 years has been the Podcast. The term was originally conceived in 2004 when a journalist looking to pad out an article combined the words ‘iPod’ and ‘broadcast’. It took off almost immediately (despite the always litigious Apple pouncing on any early use of the word ‘pod’), proving to be an incredibly popular form of entertainment with people – and a way for former sports stars to remain in the limelight.
Part of the reason for this popularity is that creating and running a podcast is relatively cheap and easy. For approximately £100-250, you could buy the equipment you would need to run a podcast. £1,000 would get you more state-of-the-art kit. All you really need is a microphone, audio interface and some editing software, and you are basically good to go. Various additions such as a pop filter (those strange discs that go in front of the microphone to filter out some of the harsher noises our mouths make) or headphones are helpful but not 100% necessary. If you want to stick with an audio podcast, you’re basically done; video podcasts will require a bit more work, but it is a far cry from the old days of broadcast where you would need a studio and a whole team behind you. Nowadays, the primary requirement is passion.
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By Fans, For Fans
Passion and football go hand in hand, so it’s little surprise that football fan podcasts are having a bit of a moment. Many have become so popular that they are making stars out of their regular guests (step forward Troopz from AFTV who has, in a manner of speaking, become a phenomenon overseas), and gaining the same kind of access that TV companies have to work hard to get. Jurgen Klopp, for example, recently sat down with Redmen TV, one of the Liverpool fan podcasts, to explain why he finds their content so compelling, and it’s genuinely hard to argue with. After all, who would you rather talk to after a match, the football pundit who’s done it all before and has another six interviews to squeeze in before he can leave – or the fan, who lives and breathes for his team, who films himself and his mates going absolutely insane when a goal goes in? Jurgen Klopp knows the answer, and plenty more managers are realising the same truth.
Obviously, every newspaper, TV and radio station has their own podcast, but we have not really counted these. After all, these are professionals who are slumming it in the podcast world because there is a bandwagon to jump on. Even Barclays Bank, as sponsors of the Premier League, have their own ‘official’ football podcast, which we are sure is not boring at all. We would much rather listen to something like The Football Ramble, made by fans, for fans, in a much more relaxed and light-hearted atmosphere.
Brian Davis is a similar success story. After poorly-timed comments in 2013 from Newcastle forward Nile Ranger suggesting that fans should not bother turning up if they are going to boo, Davis took to YouTube to make his feelings clear in an expletive-ridden rant. The video went viral amongst Newcastle fans, and Davis’s occasional comments on the state of his club found a following. Now he’s a hugely successful podcaster in his own right under the name ‘True Geordie’, with guest appearances big enough to rival any edition of Football Focus or the Graham Norton Show. Highlights include an interview with Nile Ranger himself to discuss how things changed for them both, appearances by Ian Wright, Kieron Dyer and Ricky Gervais.
Ian Wright talks to True Geordie about his life after an amazing career in football and TV. The Arsenal legend details his journey from prison to breaking goal records and then being shunned from TV to being a regular on Match of the day.
A Funny Old Game
Comedians and football have always gone together well. Just look at the influence of David Baddiel and Frank Skinner. Their seminal 90s show, Fantasy Football League, was the forerunner of the podcast whether they knew it at the time or not. They didn’t have much of a script or a plan, it was just two blokes talking about football just the same as anyone else, except they were doing it on TV. Former Nottingham Forest striker Jason Lee will certainly never forget them. Their fame reached (if you’ll excuse the phrase) fever pitch in 1996 when Baddiel and Skinner, together with The Lighting Seeds, performed the official England W. Cup song, “Three Lions”. People still sing it today.
The 1990s are the subject of another popular podcast entitled, Quickly Kevin, Will He Score? The name comes from this glorious moment of football punditry gone wrong from the 1988 W. Cup. Comedian Josh Widdicombe, Michael Marden and Chris Scull delve into the details of 1990s football, inviting former players and comedians onto the show to tell stories and reminisce. Some of the stories are absolutely hilarious, like the time Bryan Robson dropped a bed with Paul Gascoine in it on his foot.
Possibly the strangest footballing podcast hosted by a comedian is Athletico Mince. Comedian and professional surrealist Bob Mortimer hosts along with Andy Dawson, a former journalist. Given Mortimer’s involvement, the subjects covered are weird, silly and always hilarious. Regular features include the adventures of Mark Lawrenson and Robson Green, The British Manager’s Lunch Club and Gangs of the EPL. While it was originally conceived as a podcast about football, there’s no way you can keep a man like Mortimer on track, and the conversation could go almost anywhere, including this strange imagining of a particularly heavy-set darts player ordering dinner.
This is an animation for Athletico Mince
Around the World
Just as these British podcasts have found fans around the world, you’ll find that there is a football podcast for just about every other country. The long-running Hand of Pod (great name) is an English language podcast dedicated to following the Argentinian football scene. Others do exactly as their names suggest, such as the Spanish Football Podcast, Talking Fussball (about Germany) or even the Finnish Football Show, if that’s your bag. Just search for the country you are interested in, and add ‘football podcast’ after it and chances are, there’s a podcast to suit you.
Talking about football from other countries in a country where people already love football is relatively easy. But a far more daunting task would be that of football evangelist, attempting to spread the word into territories that do not traditionally like the game. But that’s exactly what Men in Blazers are attempting but creating a football podcast for the American market. British hosts Roger Bennett and Michael Davis claim that football is the sport of America’s future and have been trying, with some success, to spread the word. They are accomplishing this by appearing on chat shows and inviting big-name special guests to the show, including the likes of Wayne Rooney, Will Ferrell, Noel Gallagher and John Oliver to talk about their footballing interests.