The show, hosted by Glasgow University graduate Alasdair Madden, hits all the right notes ahead of football’s Summer showpiece.
Pure Fitbaw (PF) has been an established part of the Scottish football podcast scene for several years but their latest podcast series, which previews Euro 2020, might be amongst their most exciting yet.
PF has produced podcasts, blog posts and Twitch streams throughout the course of its existence, however some might have feared for the future of PF following the departure of PF founder Gavin Miller, who left due to work commitments. Given the show’s flagship podcast featured only two people, Miller and head of PF content Owen Brown, the brand’s future briefly appeared unclear. However, if their Euro 2020 preview series is anything to go by then PF has a strong future ahead of it.
The preview series is a relatively simple concept: it is a 24 episode podcast series with each episode focusing on one of the teams at this Summer’s European Championships. Each episode features an expert on that country’s football team speaking to presenter and PF team member Alasdair Madden, who also features on The Road to Nowhere European Football Podcast.
Madden, who graduated from Glasgow University in 2018, performs strongly in his facilitator role by successfully finding the right balance in asking questions broad enough to give the guest a broad canvas whilst also knowing to refine it to particular topics at the right times, thus getting the most out of his guests for the listeners. It is little surprise Madden performs strongly considering the dedication which he has shown to the series, even recording one of the final episodes just before joining me for a chat on Zoom. Madden told me: "I’ve not had a free [weekday] evening since the start of April. If I wasn’t recording an episode then I would be doing cultural research or team specific research."
However, despite Madden’s key role, the series’ great strength lies in the high calibre of guests which the PF team have managed to get on the podcast. PF provides us with people steeped in the football of a particular country, such as Portugal expert Tom Kundert and Turkish expert Kaan Bayazit, the types of people who know chapter and verse about the qualifying campaign of their respective countries, thus providing a level of depth which could not be found without consulting experts on that country’s football. Madden explained how PF had to rely on a mixture of personal connections, LinkedIn and Twitter but he was delighted with the outcome: “I’ve loved every episode...all the guests are so passionate. If I was really forced to pick my favourite two then I’d probably say Turkey and Ukraine but I’ve loved all the episodes.”
A further beauty of speaking to an expert well versed in that country is their understanding of the national mood and fans expectations. Whilst on the BBC Alan Shearer might be able to tell us about the merits of Ukrainaian winger Andriy Yarmolenko’s left foot; he would struggle to tell us about the feeling of the Ukranian fans in Kyiv and Kharkiv. Whereas, in the PF series there is a focus on all aspects of a national team with chat about the national mood/expectations, individual player’s abilities, and the tactical strengths and weaknesses of the side.
Madden described to me how having this knowledge can enhance the Euros’ viewing experience: ‘I think the more you know about something then the more you enjoy something, for example the more you know about a particular period in history then the more you enjoy speaking about it...The more you know about Italy and Turkey then the more you will enjoy the tournament’s opening game. You can obtain this knowledge by listening to 15 to 20 minutes of podcast episodes which are bitesize, easy to digest and leave you enlightened about each ot the teams.’
I can vouch for Madden after my viewing of the Ukraine v Northern Ireland friendly last week was significantly enhanced by a pre-match listen to the Ukraine episode, featuring Andrew Todos (founder of the Zorya Londonsk website). The episode allowed me to discover all about the high hopes, previously unknown to me, which exist for Andriy Shevchenko’s team, thus greatly enhancing my understanding and viewing experience.
The shows are also delightful in their length, around 20 minutes for the majority of the episodes, for those who have found less time to listen to podcasts due to the absence of a daily commute. Madden markets this episode length as allowing for the podcast to be listened to "with a coffee in the morning or with a slice of toast just before you go to bed". The bitesize episodes make the show eminently listenable whilst also giving enough time for the listener to gain a far better understanding of all the Euros teams, regardless of whether it is a national team full of stars or a relatively unknown squad.
All in all this podcast is a must for those seeking to develop their knowledge of all 24 teams in the Euros. The PF tagline is that it is "unbiased, in-depth, Scottish" - this podcast delivers on all three of those things, particularly excelling in the depth of its coverage with all 24 teams, from France to Finland, covered by experts from those respective countries. If you want to be sat down in front of Ukraine v North Macedonia, or any other Euros game for that matter, with some solid background context; this is definitely the podcast series for you.
The Podcasts can be found here. You can also follow PF on Twitter @PureFitbaw or visit their website.
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