Wolves fandom comes in its many guises. We’ve never had so many different ways to show our support for the Wanderers either. We still of course have our home and away die-hards, those invisible in the online world, who see it as a crime to follow their club from arm’s length. Then you have the other end of the spectrum, the international fraternity who simply chose to be away from their love, but indulge it in whatever form they can, most obviously the midnight wake-up to take in a live fixture. Then, you have everything in between and somewhere in that space falls a man who has created a bridge between the two. David Evans is the man behind the Wolves Fancast, the first podcast set up that follows the goings-on at Molineux from the perspective of us fans.
The Fancast has taken some flak over the years. The jibes about the wrestling talk and the ‘virgins’ tag, but this is a venture with its roots in supporting a football club in exactly the same way as anyone else. Dave’s a familiar tale of local boy, following in his father’s footsteps.
“I think like most people, my love for football came from my Dad. I have vague memories, aged about 3, wearing an England shirt with my Dad watching Italia 90 and if you asked me who I supported initially it was England. Being a local lad, it wasn’t long before I built up an affinity for Wolves and I was 7 when I went to my first game. I know we lost 1-0 but the opposition escape, but believe it or not I was hooked from that moment onward.”
One thing Dave and I share was the fully-decked out, watts and all Wolves bedroom, from wallpaper, to bed sheets to lamp shades. I’m sure this was what greeted many a young boy in the 90s when they closed their eyes at night and opened them in the morning. Living in a Wanderers Wonderland indeed. Support is often borne out of a father-son relationship though. Not to sideline any of our female support, but that bond between a Dad and his lad often starts with a shared love of their football club.
Dave added: “Growing up with three older sisters, Wolves was the one thing my Dad and I had to ourselves, whether it was going mental at finally seeing Bully score live in a 2-2 draw with Barnsley to dancing around the lounge in 2003 when we finally gained promotion.”
Fast forward a few years and it was a chance encounter with some like-minded people while studying Media and Communications at the University of Wolverhampton that spawned what would eventually become an award-winning idea.
“It actually started when I was in my last year of University in 2007. I was in a lecture and the lecturer read out a notice from a company called footballfancast.com looking for people to run their own club podcasts for their site.
“I wanted to work in radio, so I wanted to get as much experience as I could. I got in contact with the site and they put me in touch with two fellow students (Adam Thompson aka Cry Wolf Blog and Vinny Banks) and we started up the first version of the show.”
The initial show actually fizzled out until Dave and Adam crossed paths again when volunteering at what was called Beacon Radio. Long story short and this union of passions – radio and Wolves – created what we now know as Wolves Fancast.
Wolves, a grand old club that had fallen on hard times, but risen from the ashes to once again establish itself in the Premier League weren’t quite the media draw of the past. This gap in the market, with the technology and social media now available to us was waiting to be filled by a medium which concentrated it’s efforts on covering Wolves, without the nuance of media-club relationships.
This was a forum for the humble fan to be heard, to add humour to an oft far-too-seriously-taken world and to simply entertain the masses.
“Even as a Premier League club, the coverage was never that extensive. You may get the odd mention on BBC WM if we were doing well, but we want in-depth analysis, we wanted to talk tactics and give that fan perspective you don’t get to hear enough or listen to outside of a carefully managed recording studio.
“With the amazing help of Richard Hobbs, we’ve managed to grow year-on-year and some of the success we’ve enjoyed has been beyond our wildest dreams when we started.”
It’s difficult not to develop a personality when you’re in the media. Even if you try to set yourself up in a one-size fits all manner, your own take on things naturally comes across and perception is reality in this world.
“We don’t claim to be football experts, we’re mainly just a group of friends who want to put the Wolves world to right and have fun while we’re doing it.
“We do analyse and we do entertain, but there’s always a time and a place to be serious and we try to acknowledge the serious incidents in football. The other element of our work is giving people the opportunity to broaden their experience as well. There’s a whole host of people out there looking to get into journalism and broadcasting in an increasingly competitive area. We’ve had participants get into University and College off the back of appearing on our shows. These are the unseen achievements that have come off the back of this project.”
Podcasts are increasingly becoming a fixture in Sports Media. They’re widely popular and many are eschewing traditional radio in favour of what may be considered the more high-brow podcast for their commute. The likes of The Football Ramble, Set Piece Menu and outside of football Gorilla Position and The Weekly Planet.
“If you imagine a mash-up of Sunday Supplement, Soccer AM, Football Focus and Alan Partridge’s ‘Mid Morning Matters’, that’s us in a nutshell. The Ramble have been a big influence on us and they have found a good balance between the analysis of the sport and building a show on the personalities of its presenters.
“As a podcast you have to evolve what you do. We’ve done over 370 episodes now, so we’ve consciously changed our style and tone of voice over the years, whilst still keeping the ethos of who we are.”
“That means going off on random tangents, having silly debates about first world problems and digging into the silly ups and downs of life. We’re a Wolves podcast, but we feel you have to offer something more than just that. Otherwise I think listeners – and we – would get bored.
“Our challenge going forward is to continue to diverse our content, sometimes moving away from just talking about current issues, so we can appeal to the interests of a varied audience which has never been more hungry for Wolves content. We’ve doing this with our ‘Media Series’, which explores the different roles within sports media, and our episode on mental health. And we’re working on new items which we hope explores the different stories and world of following our club.”
“Socially and on the podcast, we take big inspirations from pop culture. Movies, TV shows. People have memories and moments in life connected to TV shows and movies. So if you make a relevance between them and a moment from Wolves, people make a connection. And we feel this works for social media.”
Wolverhampton Wanderers appears to have developed it’s own social media ecosystem. Everyone has their part to play and while it may not always be paradise, it’s a rich and varied tapestry of contributors. The podcast itself has taken on a number of guises, with the addition of The 77 Club, Express & Star’s Wolves Poddy, Talking Wolves and Radio Yam Yam all providing their own take on goings on at WV1. But perhaps herein lies the beauty of it all. We can all watch the same game and it’s viewed in 30,000+ ways. The Fancast was a trailblazer in many ways, but now it’s at a dinner party, providing it’s own inimitable conversation, all of which started when David Evans decided to hook up his microphone.
We’d be worse off without it.