I’m delighted to say that the Final Whistle podcast, which I started off at the LDV Vans Trophy final in 2005, is the longest-running football podcast in the world.
I’ve been researching this for over a year, and no podcast which began before Final Whistle is still running.
An American podcast began before us, but no longer features football, while The Guardian and The Times started theirs a couple of months after ours.
I had the idea to start a post-match podcast after seeing a peculiar incident at Gillingham in 1996, but had to wait until technology caught up with my ideas to put them into effect!
I was reporting at the time for Marcher Sound, which used to be the local commercial radio station.
All they needed from me was a quick update on how the game was going every 15 minutes or so and quick reports when a goal went in, followed by a summary at the final whistle.
It seemed like a waste considering the amount of content I was in a position to provide. I’d go to the press conferences and chat to the players, but there was no platform to broadcast them from.
It really came home to me just how daft it was at Priestfield. It’s surrounded by a warren of streets and is an intimidating venue.
The match was feisty. Steve Morris scored for us at the Gillingham end and celebrated by running behind the goal, gesticulating at their fans as he went! They weren’t impressed!
The atmosphere turned ugly, and it didn’t help the mood that we won 2-1!
After the match I was walking away from the ground when I saw a disgruntled mob gathered by the car park. As the Wrexham team coach pulled out, they proceeded to throw bricks at the windows!
Mobile phones were a luxury in those days, so I rushed to a phone box and called Marcher Sound. I told them I had a major story for them. They just weren’t interested!
Commercial radio was very inflexible – no doubt it still is. Their news was recorded in London and sent to them, and there was no real interest, apart from the sport show, in producing original content.
The value of having a platform for content was perfectly illustrated on a cold night in Bury. There was a buzz around the crowd as Sir Alex Ferguson was present, watching his son Darren play for Wrexham. After the game I was waiting to interview some Wrexham players when the ex-Manchester United manager suddenly appeared.
At this time he wasn’t conducting any interviews as he’d been angered by a BBC investigation into his transfer dealings and the roles of one of his other sons as an agent in them.
I approached him with trepidation – he looked as grumpy as you’d expect Alex Fergsuon to look – and asked if I could interview him about his son’s experiences at Wrexham. He said yes!
So I managed to get an exclusive – the only interview Alex Ferguson gave for about three years! However, without scope to publish it myself, all I could do was type it up and put it online. It had a brief shelf-life before disappearing under a welter of other match reports, previews and lottery winners. What could have been a massive coup ended up being virtually a private chat between the two of us!
Those incidents brought home to me the value of having the scope to report your own story your own way. Sadly, it took a while for technology to catch up with that, but once it did so-called “citizen journalism” flourished.
Now, of course, everyone has the scope to produce viral content in their back pockets, and mobile video and audio produced by ordinary people has been crucial in documenting events ranging from the Arab Spring to the assault on Ukraine.
I’m very proud of the longevity of Final Whistle, but I’m more proud of the brilliant work which so many fans have Wrexham have put into it in order to bring the best coverage to our supporters. It’s never been an endeavour that anybody has made a penny from, but that hasn’t stopped us from doing a professional job. It’s a labour of love which we can all be proud of.