Podcast Review: The Play

My Early Exposure

As with many podcasts, I discovered this one through other podcasts. How did it happen here? When my beloved TSS began working on The Goalmouth with people from the Howler Magazine family, I discovered there were OTHER Howler Podcasts, like a little family. After a couple of months of The Goalmouth, I gave in. I added the whole family, and I’m going to start by talking about The Play. No particular reason for doing it first, except that it’s the next un-listened to podcast on my backlog of un-listened to podcasts that I haven’t already blogged about or isn’t Formula 1.

The Host

This show is hosted by Bobby Warshaw, a former player (defender) who works in the Howler family, not only on this podcast. I’m not a huge fan of his voice, but anyone who knows me knows I’m a sucker for defense and keepers, and it’s great to get the insight of defenders and keepers. He organizes the show well, asks good questions for the purpose of the show, and has really put together some interesting recurring themes and ideas that make this show different, relevant, and interesting to people like me who listen to probably too many football podcasts. Well-organized, but as I said, I don’t love listening to him the way I do other people.

Content

This is where this show is very different/interesting. Instead of covering the same games, news, controversies, etc. that every other podcast covers, this is a specialist show. Bobby invites guests – always players or former players – to talk about aspects of being a professional footballer, typically in the American system. They take a specific line and pick it apart for half an hour, forty-five minutes. For example, the episode I’m listening to next has Bobby (who also played DM) and guest Stephen Keel (retired CB) talking about the relationship between the DM and CB roles, how those roles interact tactically, great pairings, etc. It breaks down tactics for the nerds out there like me, and it’s interesting to hear it from a player’s POV rather than in pundit speak, even if the pundit used to be a player.

Bobby also sometimes hosts an interesting segment where he has a young player and a veteran or retired player in the same sort of role come on together, and the young player gets to do an AMA with the veteran/retired player, curated by Bobby. This is relatively new, only done a few times so far, but it’s a very interesting listen.

The podcast is great for players, coaches, etc., who want to enhance their own tactics and understanding at their level by learning from those at a higher level. It’s also great for nerdy listeners like me who are always looking for new ways to better understand the beautiful game.

Regularity

Episodes come out about weekly, late in the week. They range, as said before, from half an hour to forty-five minutes. Sometimes, they skip a week. Not super-regular, but it suits alright.

Support Structure

As part of the Howler Podcast Family, it shares a support structure – presumably funded by whatever funds the magazine and other podcasts, which I presume involves ads and subscriptions. You don’t get harassed by adverts, but the beginning and the end there’s a bit of a push for the Howler Magazine and other podcasts in the family. All perfectly reasonable, and about as relevant as you can get. Good content, all around.

Rating: 3.5/5

Are you a The Play listener? Anything I missed you want to add? Anything you disagree with?

Also, if you have a podcast you want me to review, go ahead and let me know in the comments! I might be on my list (I’ll bump it forward), or I may not have listened yet, but I’m always looking for more football podcasts to try.

Cheers,

C

Podcast Review: Scottish Football Podcast

My Early Exposure

Like with the 5 live Football Daily, I discovered this podcast while looking through the BBC podcast family for things of interest. As a supporter of Scottish football, I was pleased to add it to my collection, and I listen religiously.

The Hosts

If I’m perfectly honest, I can’t remember the name(s) of any hosts for this show, and I know that it’s the same set-up as 5 live, where you get a rotating cast of hosts/regular or irregular guests. Sometimes they do other features, but you get the same voices frequently – but not exactly the same voices every day. Probably says more about me than the podcast that I can’t remember the names, right?

Except in the podcast notes and on BBC websites, I can’t find a list of hosts, either. So…. Maybe they think it’s not important?

Content

As one could predict, this covers Scottish football (gasp). The SPL and the Scottish Championship are regular fare, as well as the Scottish National Team. But you get extra tidbits, both things like other football (like the Homeless World Cup, recently) or other sports (like rugby during Six Nations, or tennis when Andy Murray’s on a hot streak, etc.). The content is all good quality, but it fluctuates between being so consistent it feels like you’re hearing exactly the same thing every day to being so inconsistent you have to double check you didn’t accidentally download some other Scottish sports podcast.

I mean, it’s called Scottish Football, so I should be getting football all the time…right?

Regularity

This podcast is daily, which is lovely – but could be part of the problem with consistency of content. On the other hand, it does manage a very constant length, with 45 min to 1 hr episodes nearly every day. Yesterday was a half-hour episode, which is an anomaly. There are always exceptions, but they get full marks for regularity, to be sure. You can count on them.

Support Structure

Again, as part of the BBC superstructure, the only advertising is adverts for other BBC programming – typically other BBC Scotland programming. It’s not necessarily relevant to the average football fan, but it is probably reasonably relevant to the average Scot. That doesn’t really apply to me, but they’re few and far between, and the content is completely free to non-British users (see 5 live’s post for more information on how it’s not really free for British users). For me, this is a quality support structure, with minimal incursion on my financial life.

Rating: 3/5

Are you a Scottish Football listener? Anything I missed you want to add? Anything you disagree with?

Also, if you have a podcast you want me to review, go ahead and let me know in the comments! I might be on my list (I’ll bump it forward), or I may not have listened yet, but I’m always looking for more football podcasts to try.

Cheers,

C

Podcast Review: Football Weekly – The Guardian

My Early Exposure

I discovered this Podcast through iTunes, going through a list of football podcasts to add to my repertoire. It’s a news-oriented Pod (unsurprisingly), but delivered with wit, charm, and the occasional sidebar. I don’t recall what my first episodes covered, but I do know it appealed to me instantly, and I’ve yet to find any serious fault with it.

The Hosts

This show is part of The Guardian‘s collection of podcasts, hosted by James Richardson and including a revolving cast of characters. Richardson keeps things light, crisp, and entertaining, smoothing through the world of football news and following the rabbit holes as they come. With a few small exceptions, Richardson is good about knowing when a sidebar has outstayed its welcome, maneuvering back to the world of sport, but you learn all sorts of interesting things not related to football as the crew wanders along.

Content

As I said, this is news-oriented. Think The Goalmouth, but unpacking and meandering, rather than sharp snaps of news. There’s a nice mix of essentials and curiosities, and there’s discussion of the upcoming and just-past matches in reasonable detail, attempting to touch on everything major, at the least. It’s not exhaustive, but it is often extensive. The information is delivered with humor and sometimes more adult/explicit humor. I wouldn’t label it the most child-friendly of shows, but it’s not like I’d duct-tape a child’s ears if it were on. (DISCLAIMER: I would never put duct tape on the ears of a child. Just saying.)

Regularity

With a few exceptions (extra episodes), this runs twice weekly. The main show is a Monday posting, covering any weekend action and previewing mid-week action. The EXTRA episode is Thursday billing, covering mid-week action and previewing the weekend to come. News of import and interest is fitted in on the episode after the event in question. With hour-long episodes, the listener gets a nice dose without feeling overwhelmed. The episodes are well-placed for purpose, although it loses out to daily pods when big events happen in between episodes – especially right after recording or posting a podcast.

Support Structure

While it’s impossible to say just how much is paid by the parent organization, some of the costs are definitely covered by advertising, such as Squarespace and a shave club. The episode always begins with an advert for Squarespace, and is interspersed with other adverts. They’re short adverts, professionally recorded, and slipped in unobtrusively, so it’s not too bad, but they aren’t especially entertaining, and they don’t have much variation.

Rating: 3.5/5

Are you a Football Weekly listener? Anything I missed you want to add? Anything you disagree with?

Also, if you have a podcast you want me to review, go ahead and let me know in the comments! I might be on my list (I’ll bump it forward), or I may not have listened yet, but I’m always looking for more football podcasts to try.

Cheers,

C

Managing My Viewing

You might have noticed: There’s a LOT of football on the television, even in the US. As I’ve begun to branch out, watching more than the EPL, I’ve needed to find the best way to organize how I know what’s on, and how I decide what to watch. With so many options and a desire to maximize my viewing, I’ve taken a few tries to get to what I think is the optimal method.

At first, I was writing all sporting events in a simple planner. Plenty of room on each day, I thought. Except some days (particularly weekends) were so full, I couldn’t get any other information into the planner. I knew I needed to try something different.

I was already getting one of those “mom” planners, with the idea of splitting up all my needs for a different “child” and have appointments in the main morning/afternoon split. It wasn’t working as well as I’d hoped, and I changed my method to a day-specific method of flow, so I thought, “Perfect, I’ll use this mom planner with each “Child” as a different network.” This seemed super-sensible, as I was running NBC, Fox, ESPN, and BeIn at the time. Then, I learned Lifetime was picking up the NWSL and I thought, “Crap.”

The planner method had other flaws, as well. The mom planners have very small lines, so making changes is difficult and messy. It doesn’t display them in time-order unless you write them that way, so making changes when you know the information can be tricky. I realized I needed to go digital if I had a prayer of getting it neat, clean, all in one place, and big enough to cover ALL the football I had at my disposal (plus the cricket, and the F1).

I went to my Outlook calendar and proceeded to make a special calendar for EVERY league, cup, form of cricket, etc. Oh, and the Olympics. If I want to hide Bundesliga, it’s one simple click. If I’m feeling burned out and all I want is to watch Premier League for a week, I can shut down everything else very easily. It can also display all my options in one neat place, so I can decide what’s going on my television, what’s going on my computer, and what I’m watching on my phone. It makes my decisions simple, gives me 15 minute reminders (perfect timing for making a cup of tea and using the toilet) and can be accessed on any device with internet, so if I’m on the go, I can still check my choices. I also get a calendar email digest every morning, so the first thing I do on waking his check what time sports start for the day. Let’s me know if I can afford a few more minutes in bed, or whether I’ve got to crawl my lazy bum upstairs to the sofa.

How do you keep track of your sports viewing? What’s your secret method of juggling?

Cheers,

C

Podcast Review: The Goalmouth

My Early Exposure

I hopped onto this bandwagon from the very launch of the show. It’s a joint endeavor, which I’ll discuss below, and it’s only a handful of months old, so listening to every episode from the beginning isn’t THAT big of a pride thing yet, but it will be in future, I expect. I tried it out because of Total Soccer Show, and was pleased with the funny, clever, bite-sized nature of the news delivered. It’s a unique show, and that stood out right away.

The Hosts

As I said above, this is a joint operation between Total Soccer Show, Howler, and Dirty Tackle. Daryl and Taylor from TSS, George Quraishi from Howler, and Brooks Peck and Ryan Bailey from DT trade off days, so you get a different voice every day of the week delivering news. Each has a slightly different sense of humor, two have British accents (if that changes your views on the pod one way or another), and as they record in isolation, their occasional comments about each other can be very entertaining. They carry on a dialogue, even though each episode is a mini monologue. And the good news is it’s so short that if you don’t like one host, or you think they’re off their game on a certain day, you’ve only got 3-7 minutes of it and then the next day is someone/something else!

Content

The whole world of football is this podcast’s oyster, and they cover interesting and entertaining stories from all corners of the globe. You get five or six stories in each episode, each either entertaining in and of itself or essential football stories they give in an entertaining way. Basically, the things you want to know and the things you need to know, in a way you want to know them. They give links to all the articles if you subscribe to the newsletter, so if there’s a story snippet you wanted to find more information on, you don’t have to try to track it down yourself.

Regularity

The Goalmouth is on every weekday morning, basically first thing if you live in the US, and the short length makes them a nice way to get the morning started. Maybe listen while your coffee’s brewing or your kettle’s boiling or however you start your morning. Maybe use it as a timer while you do something in your morning routine – although they’re not super strict about the 5-minute thing, so it can’t be anything where you need it to be timed too exactly. However you integrate this podcast into your day, it’s sure to brighten it.

Support Structure

As far as monetary support, they’ve not mentioned sponsorship in any way (except jokingly), and I’ve yet to hear anything about ways it’s being funded by listeners, so presumably its funding is split between the sourcing for the three parent organizations. They do mention leaving reviews wherever you get your podcasts (usually iTunes) if you like the show.

Rating: 5/5

Are you a Goalmouth listener? Anything I missed you want to add? Anything you disagree with?

Also, if you have a podcast you want me to review, go ahead and let me know in the comments! I might be on my list (I’ll bump it forward), or I may not have listened yet, but I’m always looking for more football podcasts to try.

Cheers,

C

Podcast Review: Total Soccer Show

I’m starting my new series of posts with a personal favorite show, the Total Soccer Show.

Full disclosure, I’m part of their scouting network, a series of supporters (we pay at least $5 a month) who also contribute reports on young players assigned to us. I’ve kept that separate from this blog out of respect for the show, and if you’re interested in knowing about my scouting reports, listen to the show and see if you can spot reports about Ronan Hale or Jack Storer of Birmingham City.

And now, my review.

My Early Exposure

I lucked out. When I was looking for more football podcasts and sort of stumbled across this one, the hosts were about to begin the crazy summer of Copa America and the Euros, covering literally every day. They were practically living in their studio, and I developed so much respect not only for the quality of the product, but also the commitment to consistent quality, rising to the occasion, that I knew I had to support the show to keep it going.

They’ve since gone to 5 days a week.

My very first episode was a Simpsons XI, where they each selected teams made up of characters from The Simpsons and explained why they made those selections. They’ve done a few shows like this since, including American Presidents, and recently, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

The Hosts

Since I’ve been listening, the hosts have been Taylor Rockwell and Daryl Grove, based out of Richmond, VA. They also do commentary for USL team Richmond Kickers, which I can only imagine is lovely. Daryl is originally from Brum, and Taylor is American. Taylor’s a Man U fan, and Daryl must have had a lovely morning today, watching his Wolves beat Liverpool 2-1.

Both are knowledgeable, professional, meticulous, and humorous. They make a point of keeping the podcast at a high standard, but they always have fun doing it. It’s also very clear that they’re friends, and they have a very comfortable rapport. Even though I’ve never met them in person, I think of them as my friends. The listener has no trouble imagining the whole thing as a conversation among pals, including the listener base.

Content

As with much US-based content, there’s a significant amount of MLS coverage, with second focus going to Premier League, and then international football – namely the USMNT and USWNT. Much of the scouting network is made up of young American talent, at home or playing abroad, and listeners will feel confident that they’re not only staying up to date on American excellence today, but also the development of the stars of tomorrow.

Major tournaments of all types are covered, including South American, North American, European, and even African tournaments. They just did a special interview, and a whole episode dedicated to the African Cup of Nations. There hasn’t been anything much on the Asian front, apart from the usual musings about players going to China, but as I’m not especially interested in Asian football, this hasn’t caused me any concern. Apart from their interest in MLS, Taylor and Daryl’s coverage of the various leagues and tournaments has thus far mirrored my levels of interest in the various leagues and tournaments.

They also dedicate time to the Scouting Network, which spans many countries and leagues, including both male and female players. If you listen to the show and like it, I encourage you to join the scouting network. It’s a great way to focus your interest in youth development, and gives you a vested interest in supporting a young player.

It also gives you bragging rights if your player does well, and something to force your parents to listen to when they read out your report on the show.

Regularity

As I said above, the show has gone to a five-days-a-week structure, making it one of my more regular podcasts. With 40-ish minute episodes, this is a glorious way to cover a lot of information in the football world nearly daily, not just focus on one league or one nation. It’s given them the scope to cover a lot of topics, and they also do emergency podcasts when something really big – like the firing of Klinsmann – happens after their recording, or on a day they wouldn’t normally record.

They did take some days off – understandably – during the holiday season, for illness and travel, and the really difficult weather in Virginia this winter. They’ve done what they can to limit lack of shows during these seasons, though, having one of them hold down the fort, doing interviews rather than not putting out any content at all, so at worst, you might have three episodes in a rough week, instead of five. Still way better than basically ALL other podcasts. The interviews are really interesting, too, from former players to people in the US leagues, from journalists experts on football merchandise. They know how to cover all kinds of topics.

Support Structure

I’ve mentioned the scouting network already, but subscribing at different levels will earn different rewards to pile on top of each other, like so many support schemes. I won’t list them all, as they’re available for consideration on the website, but they’ve got a promise to answer one question a month at the ten dollar level, and there’s even a promise to play their Wikipedia game at a higher commitment – that’s a lot of fun to listen to. I’ll explain in comments if someone asks.

You can also support the show by buying some merchandise. They have scarves and t-shirts, details on the website. It’s a small start, but a good start.

Finally, they do have some sponsors, so you’ll hear some advertising on the show. This is a turn-off for some people, but let me explain. They’ve got sponsors like Mack Weldon (apparel), Audible (like every other podcast), Blue Apron (food shipment services), Ruffneck Scarves (scarves), SeatGeek (event ticketing), and Futchi, which is a rebounder they talk about a lot on the show, and have posted videos of their usage of. They feature coupon codes, naturally, but they also talk about their experience with these things, so you know it’s something they use and like, and not just random paid advertising. The ads change, so they stay interesting and relevant.

Rating: 4.5/5

Are you a TSS listener/supporter? Anything I missed you want to add? Anything you disagree with?

Also, if you have a podcast you want me to review, go ahead and let me know in the comments! I might be on my list (I’ll bump it forward), or I may not have listened yet, but I’m always looking for more football podcasts to try.

Cheers,

C