Quickly Kevin, Will He Score? and 5 more sports podcasts

We take a trip back to 90s football with Quickly Kevin, Will He Score? and check out five more recommended sports podcasts

Feature by Brian Cloughley | 18 Jan 2018

Juxtaposition (and its pals irony, contrast and incongruity) can be pretty funny. Quickly Kevin, Will He Score? thrives on this kind of stuff and is, likewise, pretty funny. It’s because its subject – professional football in the 1990s – is chock-a-block with juxtaposition. It was a time when imminent professionalism rubbed up against rank amateurism, and the resultant chafing was remarkable.

In the 90s, you see, the things that would later define modern professional football – inconceivable sums of money, soulless all-seater stadia, full-sleeve tattoos – were just starting to take hold, while at the same time remnants of football’s past – violence, drunkenness, mullets, distrust of anyone funny-looking – were just about holding on. This combination throws up all sorts of oddball incidents that Quickly Kevin, led by comedian Josh Widdicombe and professional podcaster Chris Scull, successfully mine.

About half of the episodes centre on interviews with people who were actually there – footballers, referees, commentators. Maybe it’s because the hosts make them feel at ease, or maybe it’s because sufficient time has passed, but the guests aren’t hesitant about rolling out their bizarre, often slightly grubby reminiscences. All the hosts need to do is encourage them with disbelieving nudges.

Did Paul Gascoigne and Paul Merson really hold sleeping pill eating contests?

Did Steve Sedgley really eat a urinal cake for £20?

Did everyone really drink that much?

The other half of the episodes feature thirty-something comedians, friends of the presenters basically. These guests, like the presenters and their target audience, were children at some point during the 90s and this lends their recollections a particular quality. With childhood memories, you often pull something out of the back of your brain that feels true but seems, logically, highly improbable. That’s the kind of cognitive dissonance you get here, as they try to reconcile their memories of football then with how they perceive football now. You can almost sense a nagging doubt in the back of their minds: that can’t be right.

One of the best from this category is the Elis James episode, which covers the Wales national side and is a perfect encapsulation of the era. James is a lovely guest too; he starts off sounding so gentle and calm, before his exasperation rises as he describes the ridiculous managerial reign of Bobby Gould. Gould was a guy who held training sessions in a prison, personally designed the home strip, and picked fights with, amongst others, the Manic Street Preachers and the sports editor of Ceefax. Ceefax and the Manics! Could this guy be any more 90s? Perhaps only if he tried to throw in a Chandler Bing joke at the end of an article.

Elis James on Bobby Gould: Quickly Kevin, Will He Score? S01E02

5 More Sports Podcasts

1)  Guardian Football Weekly vs. 2)  The Totally Football Show
Ah, the great football podcasting schism of 2017. After a decade of dominance at the Guardian, silky host James Richardson jumped ship last summer to ‘try something new.’ Thing is, there’s nothing especially new about the Totally podcast. In fact, it all sounds a bit stale (not helped by some intrusive advertising). Football Weekly, on the other hand, has had an unexpected upturn in quality, buoyed by some lively new contributors who actually sound like they’re happy to be there.

3)  30 for 30 – American sportscaster ESPN has been producing high-end documentary films for the last decade and last year branched into podcasting under the same label. Solid but unspectacular to date.

4)  Bunce’s Tales of the Extraordinary – If you find Steve Bunce enjoyable in small doses and infuriating in medium-sized doses, then these 15 minute sports stories might be to your liking.

5) Athletico Mince – 5 minutes of football chat, fifty minutes of high quality nonsense from Bob Mortimer and Andy Dawson.