Ever since the late 80s I have listened to the football output on BBC Radio Leicester. Every match is covered live nowadays but back then (and going into the early 90s) we were lucky if we got second half commentary but more often than not it was just goal updates. The Monday night football forum has been around for as long as I can remember. I used to hear it in the early 90s when I lived with my parents but then I moved away. Many years later as the internet took over the world, and podcasts became common, I could start listening again.
I’ve long enjoyed hearing this show in podcast form on Tuesdays over the years and I was delighted to be on the programme in early January. I texted presenter and match-day commentator Ian Stringer to say that I was back in the East Midlands on the morning of the Wigan match in the FA Cup 3rd Round. He instantly replied and invited me on to the following Monday’s radio show to which I gleefully accepted despite saying I thought I was a bit rubbish when I was last on in Hong Kong in July 2017. He assured me I was brilliant which is obviously not true but was all the reassurance I needed! I’m easy like that!!
When I was last in the UK five years ago I was invited by Ian for a tour of the Radio Leicester studios and I sat in on the Football Forum (but not as an on-air guest) so this was my first time to be on the programme live in Leicester following the aforementioned appearance in the middle of the night in Hong Kong.
I bumped into News Editor Jonathan Lampon (who was the presenter on the breakfast show way back in 2014 when he played out the interview Ian did with me at Meiji Shrine) by chance on the door but didn’t remind him who I was. I had met the other guest Henry at the entrance too and wondered if he was just a fan like me or a journalist. As it turns out he was a fan but was on the show to talk about where the replacement Leicester City Premier League Winners 2016 mural could go in the city. He said he was a regular listener and had heard my name mentioned a few times by Ian, usually in relation to geeky radio stuff he sometimes says which is often followed by a halloooo! (*)
We only entered the studio at 5:55 pm and you might think there would be some briefing about the agenda and what to say or not say. That didn’t happen though. Basically, just sit there, join in and give your opinion when asked. As a radio fan, it’s always interesting to see how things work and the more geeky side of producing live content. With it being the first day for the normal schedule to resume after the festive season, there were new and unfamiliar jingles and i-dents. There was also some indecision over who was introducing the news at 6pm whether it be the presenter finishing his show or Mr Stringer himself. For the record it was the former which was different to previous occasions.
Former Leicester winger Matt Piper, who works as a summariser for the station, still hadn’t arrived when the show began. He came into the studio during one of the show’s many opening music themes! The programme begins with a clip of the City faithful singing ‘Vichai had a dream’ followed by the Champions League music (played for as long as we remain in a Champions League spot) and the main theme which is ‘F***in’ In The Bushes‘ by Oasis.
It took quite a while before I really got to properly speak. Not really a problem as I was happy just sitting there and seeing it unfold. I waffled on for just over a minute without any reference to the copious notes which Ian mentioned on air. Italian football expert Mina Rzouki was on the phone not so long after we’d briefly analysed the Wigan FA Cup match which was a bit surreal for me as she is someone I often hear on Radio 5 Live on the likes of the ‘World Football Phone In‘ and ‘Fighting Talk‘. I can’t say I really listened to a word she was saying so thank god I didn’t get asked for too much of a reaction to her comments on a potential new signing for Leicester.
The first half passed by in a flash and after Ian had read the news it was back with the show and I talked for a bit about listening to the podcast and the other Leicester fans in Tokyo. I admitted I’d been a bit lazy in helping to organise any meet-ups for games in Tokyo recently but that has thankfully changed since then.
A fourth guest (Emily from the Union FS supporters group) arrived at about 6:40pm to talk about a charity food bank at the following home league game as well as the special fans singing area which was created for the Wigan cup match. A preview of the home League Cup semi final was next and I did get a chance to chat to Matt Piper one of the pre-recorded inserts played. I had to tell him that I loved his “commentary” on the injury time VAR winner against Everton in December.
There was just enough time to chat about Vardy and whether or not he should start. I said he should play but the others said we could do without him. As it was he did play not that I saw it. As revealed in those closing moments of the show I would be on a plane somewhere over Siberia at kick off time. I could have said a lot more but was very conscious of the seconds counting down to seven o’clock when the show had to finish.
Once the show was off-air we all got to hang out for a bit “backstage” and I was able to get some pictures with the main men. Henry and I were both keen to learn a bit more about how the hugely successful Tom Meighan podcast extra came about.
It was my first time to meet Owynn who turns into “Patrick” when the Kasabian frontman Tom does his part of the podcast which was recorded earlier in the day on this occasion. It was then added on after the football forum and I got a mention for being on the show even though I hadn’t actually been on at the time of their recording! Thanks to the medium of Twitter I was aware that Owynn was a big fan of Oasis (and Kasabian of course!) so I wanted to speak to him about music for a bit as well as congratulating him on such a promising start to his career behind the microphone.
Yet again I was buzzing as I made my way back to the station and headed home. After being out of the UK for half a decade I hope it’s not that long before I return to the city and it’s airwaves!
Click here to read ‘Meeting The Ex-Leicester City Player Who Scored The Final Goal At Filbert Street’
Click here to read ‘Hong Kong 2017 Pt II: Appearing Live On The BBC Radio Leicester Football Forum’
Click here to read ‘A Tour Of The BBC Radio Leicester Studios And Watching The Football Forum Show’
(*) It’s an in-joke catchphrase which goes back to when former Foxes striker Alan Young used to be on the programme and was talking about Swiss airplanes and Ian responded with “Halloooo” in an anorak-type voice which we repeated a lot during his time in Tokyo in 2014 and thereafter. It doesn’t sound particularly funny when written down here but it’s kept us amused over the years!