One Night in Putney

“Pitch Owners Fancast (POF) – crazed sect who meet in a Putney bar back room every Monday.” – Those Pitch Owners Factions, A Cut-Out-And-Keep Group by Group Guide by Tim Rolls, Plains of Almeria blog, 18/01/12″

Over the past few years, there’s been an explosion in football fans getting their fix of the beautiful game through emerging media rather than traditional print and broadcast sources, a topic this column will be exploring further in the coming weeks.

A decent ip3 player is now relatively cheap, and a market that appears to be rapidly expanding is that of “podcasting”. Early podcasts were produced by the BBC (Fighting Talk and Mayo & Kermode’s cinema reviews are the ones which spring most rapidly to mind), but now it’s possible for anyone with a decent idea and determination to broadcast on a subject that interests them and gather in listeners via social media.

A handful of Chelsea Podcasts are available, including the club’s official offering, together with fan-based offerings such as “The Chels” and the beautifully titled “The Podding Shed”. However, with a cult following and weighing in at 200 episodes, the daddy of the podcast has to be “The Chelsea Fancast”.

Founded by producer David Chidgey (aka Stamford Chidge), the show is recorded in Putney on a Monday night with a cast of reprobates and ne’er do wells who follow Chelsea over land and sea, and this week I took the opportunity to join them to discuss the week’s victories over Benfica and Villa.

The joining instruction said “we meet at 7pm for a 7.30 ko”, but sadly Chidge got delayed in the rush hour, and by the time the incredibly-complicated equipment was set up, it was almost 8pm. Ah yes, the equipment. To the podcast listeners it might sound like a few blokes sitting round a table, but the section of the bar where the show is recorded is almost L-shaped, with a long padded bench (cell?) along a wall.

The usual co-presenters, of whom more shortly, sit alongside each other each with a microphone, with the casual visitors located in “the benches”, sharing one mike between them. As ringmaster, Chidge not only gets his own, very professional microphone, but is also poised over a laptop, wearing headphones and all the mikes are linked up into a mini-mixing desk so presumably he can fade up/down contributors/miscreants.

As for this week’s co-presenters, they’re names recognizable to most Chelsea fans as well as the podcast audience; Darren Mantle is well-known to many for his periodical media appearances and organizing the huge flags that roll across the ground on matchdays. Similarly, Ross Mooring is another noted blogger, who also did a huge amount of work in the Autumn with Say No CPO. They’re joined by Chris Norman, aka Celery Terrorist, Paul “Pablo” Jeffreys and “John Thomas”, better known as ChelTel.

At the Benches mike, are myself, Oskar the Swedish Blue, and Mike, who is visiting from the US and has dropped by to join in the show – I’m told a lot of listeners from abroad, particularly from the US, do this when they’re in town.

Chidge does a sound level test, and away we go. In spite of the free-wheeling feel the show gives to the listener, the presenters receive a script from Chidge in advance, and the show features a number of set-pieces, such as The Fannies, including the Celery and Guinness moments, and “You’re on CFFC!”

The presenters and benches get introduced, and I can’t help feeling slighly nervous as the microphone is turned to me. Chidge is remarkably kind throughout and I name-drop Old Mother Baby wherever I can, particularly attempting to blame her for talking me into going to the Villa game on Saturday when my initial reaction after the Albion disaster wasn’t to go. I’m also the only member of the panel who was at both Benfica and Villa, and point out in no uncertain terms that the only one to be at both games was “a girl”.

The Celery and Guinness awards are dished out to Torres for his goal, particularly the celebration which was deemed to be “proper Chels” and Branna’s double. The search for Chelsea’s all-time best XI continued with a look at the pick of our defensive midfielders (a choice between Ray Wilkins, Makalele, Stanic, Essien, Ballack and Spackman), and in the “Shall We Sing a Song for You?” segment, I bellow “Oh Dennis Wise,scored a f **c king great goal” so loudly that I nearly deafen Chidge through his cans.

Darren contributes to proceedings by causing what can only be described as a “gas incident”. Following on from the Best XI, Spackman is the subject of “Don’t Look Back in Anger”, with an especial mention in despatches for his giving Martin Keown, the original possessor of a monkey’s head, a slap. Whilst off-colour language is permitted, only Darren’s favourite “c” word is absolutely vetoed, and when he eventually can’t help himself, Chidge groans and puts his head in his hands.

There’s a fag/drink/loo break at about 9.15, but by the time proceedings are starting to wind up, it’s 10.30. I counter a suggestion of possibly discussing Chelsea Pitch Owners with “this show’s already gone on long enough”, and a paeon of praise for Mata “coming inside” results in the entire crew corpsing for getting on for five minutes in a style reminiscent of the late Brian Johnston.

Eventually, almost three hours after the recording began, Chidge asks us for our Twitter addresses and in thanking me for appearing praises TheChels, particularly Chelsea Youth who is hailed by the rest of the team as a “legend”. Finally, Chidge ends with the traditional “keep it blue, keep it carefree” and we all join in with “UP THE CHELS!”

The boys start packing away the equipment, and the recording ends for another week. I finally get home at midnight from a long but hugely enjoyable evening.

I’ve obviously not revealed all from this week’s broadcast in the hope that you’ll listen for yourselves. You can download The Chelsea Fancast free from iTunes, (Download or Subscribe) and visit the fansite at, where you can also join the forum.

You can follow the fancast team on Twitter:-

David Chidgey -@DavidChidgey
Darren Mantle -@DarrenMantle
Ross Mooring – @RossMooring
Chris Norman – @CeleryTerrorist
Paul Jeffrey – @pauljeffrey87
John Thomas – @ChelTel

Many thanks to the team for letting me join them this week, and hopefully if I didn’t make too big an idiot of myself they’ll have me back.

Over the coming weeks we’ll be taking a further look at the ways in which emerging media is making life easier for football fans, and in the meantime you can access my random thoughts on Twitter @BlueBaby67.

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