Hot takes, honey badgers and the Drinan debacle – the Kings of Anglia podcast story so far
There’s not much better than sitting down the pub - in the days when you could – with your mates talking about football while you gently mock each other as only friends can. That’s the basic premise behind the Kings of Anglia podcast, the twice-weekly Ipswich Town show produced by the EADT and Star. Host Mark Heath looks at the story so far...
There has actually been a podcast produced by the EADT sportsdesk team for a number of years – it began life as ‘Sleeping Giants’, the brainchild of current star Andy Warren, who hosted what was a general sports discussion show covering the events of that given week.
When Andy took flight to the Daily Mail, flamboyant train fancier Edmund Crosthwaite took the wheel, and it was decided to make it a dedicated Ipswich Town show.
Crossers, too, was off soon enough, with then-Ipswich Town reporter Chris Brammer assuming the hosting mantle for the renamed Ipswich Town Insights show, a weekly effort which featured he and current cast member Stuart Watson.
When big Bramms departed, we swooped to bring Warren back home on big wages and the Kings of Anglia name was born, with Andy hosting and Stu co-starring.
In truth though, neither of them really enjoyed it, suffering with Town fatigue and struggling to muster the enthusiasm required to talk about the team even more on a weekly basis – as well as all the writing they were required to do. That’s where yours truly came in, all bluster, long words and excitement, but armed with very little actual knowledge.
Fortunately, Andy and Stu covered that, and the good ship Kings of Anglia well and truly set sail as Paul Hurst arrived in Town in the heady summer of 2018.
It grew stronger still, and sounded better, when we moved to our new home at the IO Radio studios in Ipswich last year, and we gained a member as Ross Halls, known as ‘Producer Ross’ – a lightning strike survivor and not so proud owner of the world’s weakest immune system – came on board to man the decks, plug things in and forget to press record. He’s also host of ‘The Strike’, the weekly Town-themed game show which seems to be the most popular thing we do, and regularly features Ross butchering names of Town greats from the past.
It didn’t take long for me to enforce my enthusiasm for nicknames on the group – Hurst was quickly branded ‘Hollywood’ – because of his brilliant white teeth – and Chris Doig was ‘Deputy Doig’ while Gwion Edwards became ‘Suffolk Giggs’ and Ellis Harrison ‘Bomber’ after suggestions from our quickly expanding listenership.
Andy, already known as ‘Hutch’ – the Warren link to rabbits, obviously – became Alfred Hutchcock, Michael Hutchence and eventually Hutch Hogan, while Stu became ‘Steve’ after Paul Lambert got his name wrong several times, much to the delight of many Town fans.
He’s also ‘The Doctor’ because of his very analytical, logical mind – and his habit for taking longer to answer questions than the duration of your average brain surgery.
I’ve been called ‘Hampstead’, the ‘Heathinator’ and ‘MC Roundhouse’ by various listeners – and much worse by the boys!
In all honesty, none of the player/manager nicknames really took off – we were even asked to stop calling Hurst Hollywood by the club – but my ‘Honey Badger’ moniker for Paul Lambert picked up a bit of support at the start of the current season.
Folks seemed to enjoy the comparison between the ferocious animal noted for its willingness to fight anything, anywhere, anytime, and the humble honey badger.
Peek behind the curtain
As well as the mates in the pub feel, the other driving force behind the pod is to bring listeners with us behind the Town curtain, where Stu, Andy, Ross and I are lucky enough to work.
KOA has hosted special chats with former chief executive Ian Milne and club secretary Stuart Hayton, we produced a Marcus Evans exclusive special after Stu had secured the first-ever face-to-face interview with the Town owner, taking listeners behind the scenes of their chat.
Ever wanted to know what Marcus smells like? Listen to that!
We’ve also shared tales of the boys playing football with and against Lambert and co in Germany, revealed Stu’s ‘disagreement’ with Toto Nsiala, hosted chats with the likes of Bartosz Bialkowski and Kieron Dyer, plus dedicated most of a show to the pitfalls of transfer rumour season, and the world of football agents.
If every show contains a decent level of nonsense, plus sufficient Town titbits and informed opinion which listeners can’t get elsewhere, we are a happy bunch indeed.
Back in October 2018, with Town mired at the foot of the Championship and misery everywhere, we three kings decided to go totally off piste and record our first-ever KOA ‘extra-time’ – essentially half an hour of us arguing about the merits of various crisps.
The result was one of our most listened-to pods and a ridiculous level of confusingly positive feedback, plus a KOA champion of champion crisp following various Twitter polls – Monster Munch Pickled Onion, if you’re asking.
The final poll vote was – accidently – pinned to the top of the KOA Twitter feed even while Paul Hurst was eventually sacked, a fitting tribute to the nonsense of pro football and the Kings of Anglia!
That pod even led to Friend of the Show #1 (more on them in a minute) Darrell Jones bringing a case load of American ‘chips’ for us to sample with him on one of his journeys over from the States to watch Town.
What. A. Guy.
Hot takes and the Drinan debacle
Hutch Hogan loves a hot take – a random prediction or feeling which you just blurt out without even thinking about it. He loves them so much, in fact, that we made them a regular part of the show in 2018.
Our record – mine especially – was abysmal, with Stu’s hot take about Jack Lankester breaking into the first team on last year’s big season preview show proving to be the best by a country mile. That’s why we call him The Doctor.
On the same show, I secured a place in infamy by picking Aaron Drinan as ‘surprise package’ for the season – hours after he’d departed for Sutton United on loan.
To this day, I single-handedly campaign for A-Drizzy (another Heath nickname) to get his big chance in the first team, in the face of countless others who refuse to see his vast potential.
Friends of the Show
The KOA Hall of Fame – listeners who’ve not only interacted with the show, but also left us a five-star iTunes review (199 and counting) and gone even a step further than that to support us and the pod.
Hutch Hogan is the sole bestower of the title, and as it stands there are just eleven giants in the official KOA Friends of the Show pantheon.
They are the aforementioned Darrell (@djonesjax on Twitter), a listener known only as ‘The Pin’ (@Deactiv34356907), Welsh prince Harvey Davies (@HDavies1804), resident chef Jack’s Larder (@MacleanJack), fighty Matt Thomas (@Iamspartacus73), globetrotter Stefan Wawszczyk (@StefanWawszczyk), darts talent Harry Butcher (@hurricane_hazer), the mysterious Little Melon Man (@Melon_Little), all-round legend Nigel Gooding (@ITFCHoneyBadger), Blue Monday host Joe Fairs (@joefairs) and Austin Vidal, who isn’t on Twitter but brought us back a care package of random snacks and drinks from his travels in Japan.
No-one apart from Hutch knows when that number will grow.
KOA goes global
Sure, we’ve got listeners in Ipswich. Loads of them. All over the country, in fact.
But even more surprisingly, KOA has listeners all over the world. We’ve had messages from folks who enjoy the show across the globe, and are currently trying to establish the farthest-flung fan.
Chris Wright listens in paradise in the Bahamas, while we have the likes of Darrell and Matt Smith in the USA, Stuart Driver in Sydney, Antony Manning in Secret Harbour, Australia – how good does that sound? – Mark Johnson in Melbourne and the aforementioned Austin on his travels across the globe.
Oskar Soreng sent his greetings from Norway, while English teacher Monty Patterson listens to us while telling his students in South Korea all about the merits of Ipswich Town.
What we really want now are listeners in Africa - is that you?
Get in touch!
The only thing left to do with the pod was put on a live show so we could meet as many members of the KOA Army as possible, share a few drinks and get them involved in the show.
That duly happened one Saturday night last December at The Smokehouse in Ipswich as some 50 listeners and the KOA team got together for a knees up and live recording.
We hadn’t reckoned at the time for Town losing at home to Bristol Rovers - the start of the current malaise - but a great night was still had by all.
Plans are now in place for a KOA Live 2 - but obviously that depends on when the coronavirus crisis comes to an end. Until then, we’ll keep pumping out the KOA pods on Monday and Thursday from our respective self-isolation stations - with the added bonus that you can now watch them on YouTube too!