Opinion

Are You Listening? A Pod For All Ages

With more football than you can swing a cat at, keeping up with whats going on not only in Europe but across the world can be extremely difficult. Luckily the explosion of mobile technology over the past five years has helped to solve this problem as it has spawned a new way to enjoy the beautiful game – the Football Podcast. With podcasts driving an eruption of audio consumption in recent years, there are more football based podcasts than ever before. But with a plethora of choice ranging from traditional media and publishing company driven pods to fan run pods covering everything from Spanish football to MLS to individual clubs, it’s becoming increasingly hard to navigate this minefield and find the right pod for you. This is where we come in. After months of extensive research and many hours on buses, trains and streetcars listening to various pods, we have come up with a top three (with a few honourable mentions as well) that should help you dissect this ever-expanding space. So sit back and listen as we go through our top three (in no particular order)

The Football Ramble

Whilst the Guardian and BBC podcasts often lend towards the more PC type of broadcast, the boys from the Football Ramble are refreshingly honest although sometimes slightly controversial. Presented by Marcus Speller, Luke Moore, Jim Campbell and former Zoo employee Pete Donaldson, the Ramble has a faithful following who regularly tune in to hear the teams opinions of that weeks Premier League action and to a lesser extent the going ons in Italy, Germany, Spain and Scotland. One of the only podcast to read the fans colourful views in full from social media, the Ramble is nothing but entertaining and we challenge anyone listening to try to not chuckle at least once at an inappropriate comment. Donaldson’s never ending hatred of former Newcastle boss, now Palace favourite Alan Pardew is highly amusing. How he will react if Pardew does get the England job down the road will be worth tuning in for on its own. Check out their website as well for the latest podcast and the Dean Windass Hall of Fame for other podcasts on a variety of topics including Diego Maradona, East Germany, Roberto Carlos and Dixie Dean. Although no longer featured on the show, this section has gained a cult following with regular listeners lobbying for its return.

The Ramble Four (Image from FootballRamble.com)
The Ramble Four (Image from FootballRamble.com)

BBC 606 and World Football Phone ins

Given its rich history in journalism and it’s love affair with the British game, it’s unsurprising that the BBC has some of the best pods out there. Most are derived from call in Radio shows like 606 with Darren Fletcher and Robbie Savage on Saturday or Ian Wright and Kelly Cates (née Dalglish, daughter of Liverpool legend Kenny) on Sunday’s. Both shows are fine examples of pairing strong radio broadcasters with well opinionated former players. Not a fan of Wrighty or Savage during their playing days, it doesn’t matter as both contribute brilliantly to the series and have a bad habit of winning you over by the end. Take part in “Dark Savage – caller: name, team, point, go!” or just simply rant about how badly your team is performing and Savage will listen. Sunday’s version tends to be more subdued yet still highly entertaining primarily because Kelly’s voice is strangely soothing as you digest the weekend’s action, all the while listening to Wrighty’s well structured opinions on how the games went.

Ian Wright and Kelly Cates prepare for another 606 phone in (Image from BBC)
Ian and Kelly talk about the weekends action on Sundays (image from BBC)

For listeners who want more than a standard one hour program, tune in to the BBC’s legacy football podcast show The World Football Phone In. Kicked off as always by the real sounds of Africa (listen and you will get the reference), the WFP is hosted by Dotun Adebayo (yes the uncle of Peterborough United defender Tobi Adebayo-Rowling) and his faithful sidekick Tim Vickery. The latter, no relation to Phil is a South American specialist based in the colourful city of Rio de Janiero, Brazil. The English-born journalist who also writes for various publications including World Soccer and the BBC has an extensive knowledge of the region having lived there for almost a third of his life. So good is his knowledge that there doesn’t appear to be a single player in South America that Tim doesn’t know about. His ability to give an excellent and astute insight into each player makes the show what it is. Just don’t mention the band “Queen” to him or ask him to do a west country accent. Dotun, originally from Nigeria but now a fully fledged Brit with an MBE, keeps the show flowing nicely and spreads the questions well between Vickery and one of his other guests – the lovely Mina Rzouki, Jon Arnold, Mark Gleeson, Johnn Duerden or the voice of the US Sean Wheelock. Focused on “players from over there playing in our leagues”, the World Football Phone In does exactly what it says on the tin with discussions primarily focused on football in other regions beyond Europe. Taped between 2am and 4am every Saturday morning, you can listen to the show live on BBC Radio 5 or like many others who have to sleep simply download the pod and enjoy at your own leisure.

Resident South American expert Tim Vickery is a fountain of knowledge on the World Football Phone In (Image from Getty)
The Legendinho – Tim Vickery( Image from BBC)

One of the best in the football podcast space is The Guardians Football Weekly. With its flagpole Monday pod and Thursday edition simply named Football Extraaaaaaaaaa, the boys and girls of the Football Weekly pod delight their listeners week after week with some light banter mixed in with insightful analysis. The show is hosted by the highly likeable James Richardson, the former frontman of Channel 4’s Football Italia who spent over a decade sipping on espressos whilst waxing lyrically and pointing to the various Italian sports pages. Richardson may have perfected his craft in the land of Roberto Baggio and slow-paced football but he is the perfect host for this gathering of rich football minds. Even if you only listen to his quick-witted, pun filled intros you are in for a treat which summarizes the pod in a delicious 30 second run down. In the pod itself, Richardson has a variety of well-known names from the sports journalism world  to assist him like Barney Ronay, Jacob Steinberg, Phillipe Auclair, James Horncastle, Ian MacIntosh and the ever-present yet slightly moody Barry Glendenning. In fact so rich is this pod in quality that they regularly substitute new voices in such as the wonderful Ralph Hoenstine from Germany, Sid Low in Spain, the voice of Italian football Paolo Badini or the fantastic if underused Amy Lawerence. The pod focuses primarily on the English Premier League but does playfully touch upon other leagues across Europe as Richardson calls up the pods various correspondents. Glendenning’s Fitba Corner and Sid Low’s views on Spain tend to be very entertaining and feature more regularly than other areas. All produced brilliantly by Producer Ben it’s a must for any football fans podcast list.

Honorable mentions must go to Sports Illustrated “The Planet Futbol Podcast”, The Times “The Game Podcast”,  Men in Blazers and The Total Soccer Show who regularly produce great podcasts in their own right but fall just slightly short of the three above. Happy listening!

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