The Critics’ Picks – 2018 Podcast Of The Year

Critic: Luke McLoughlin

Pick: The Rugby Pod

A must-listen for any rugby fan, even those with even the smallest interest. Hosted by ex-players Andy Goode and Jim Hamilton and an excellent presenter in Andy Rowe, the podcast is not loaded full of geeky ‘rugby’ chat, but instead a hilarious recollection of stories in various players careers. The trio also speaks to current and ex-players, discussing whether or not players have a ‘hell of a piece’ or are ‘hung like a squirrel’ and many more amusing gags. Alongside a recap of weekends results and previewing future fixtures it has the perfect captive for both the ultra-keen rugby fan and the ‘I watch the six nations and the World Cup’ rugby fan.

Critic: Max McGrath

Pick: The Herd With Colin Cowherd

I will disclose that this will not be everyone’s cup of tea due to the content matter, but with the ever-increasing popularity in US sport, I feel it has earned its place. Colin Cowherd provides intelligent analysis and witty discussions with his listeners and the unique selling point of his podcast is that he bases a lot of his opinions in fact, which makes for a refreshing change from the very opinion-based punditry we see a lot of on our screens (mainly Sky). Analysis based on pure facts and stats is refreshing and leads to some fascinating discussion and usually brings up some controversial and interesting opinions

Critic: Harry Pockett

Pick: Sunday Vibes Extra Time

I think the question of podcast of the year is pretty easy, it’s the Joe Rogan podcast. However, given his enormous fan base, I thought it would be better to spotlight a younger, yet equally as enjoyable podcast. That podcast is Sunday Vibes Extra Time. I’ve been watching videos from the YouTube channel Football Daily for around two years now, so I was delighted to hear they were releasing a podcast two months ago. Those familiar with the Football Daily selection of videos will know the range of footballing topics the team cover but the podcast refines their discussions to one focused topic, with two shortened, more entertaining topics to tail off each episode. The trio of presenters infuse great chemistry with incredible insight; both organic and statistical into each topic. My favourite being ‘How to fix a problem like Manchester United’ where they delve into the rabbit hole of issues surrounding the club. It is this format that works best, where they each pick transfers, and appoint a manager and any backroom staff to either take their selected club back to greatness, for example Bayern Munich or catapult a club into the European competitions i.e. Southampton. Expect big things from this podcast in 2019 – I am confident that this time next year, Sunday Vibes Extra Time will become one of the most downloaded podcasts in the UK.

Critic: Tom Roberts

Pick: Binge Mode – Harry Potter

Ever since finishing the Harry Potter books, I have found it difficult to throw myself into another series. Nothing else captures the imagination, emotion and storytelling quite like J.K. Rowling’s wonderful creation, ‘The Hunger Games’ is probably the closest I ever got. Therefore, my choice for podcast of the Year goes to Jason Concepcion’s (aka Network) and Mallory Rubin’s ‘Binge Mode: Harry Potter’ on The Ringer Podcast network. Each pod, Jason and Mallory go deep into the story, breaking down each chapter with some brilliant discussions, before giving you some intriguing information you may not have known from the Harry Potter Universe. Fear not, if you haven’t read the books, although you may not be what I consider, a true Harry Potter fan, they do also breakdown the films. This is a must listen for any (true) Harry Potter fan as this fantastic duo dive deep into the world of witchcraft and wizardry with each listen to guarantee some laughs and possibly a few tears. Wow, I might actually be a nerd…

P.S. They also do a Game of Thrones podcast series!

Critic: Chris Heley

Pick: Flats and Shanks

Perhaps my most light-hearted pick is Flats and Shanks for podcast of the year. Although in theory, it is just another rugby pod, David Flatman and Tom Shanklin offer so much more. Quite often recorded in a service station car park, the two friends (and former teammates) are known to spend at least half of an hour of the podcast chatting about what they’ve got up to over the last week, usually with some very funny insights into other rugby folks or their daily lives as retired pros. The rugby analysis is delivered with insight (personally, I believe that Flatman is the most insightful analyst on TV currently) but again they offer so much more than the usual “player X is really great at this”, diving into the intricacies of the game whilst keeping it light hearted and funny. The production value isn’t the highest and sometimes the audio is a bit dodgy but it is all part of the charm so if you want a podcast that will give you real insight into rugby in the shortest possible time, while putting a smile on your face on your way into work this is the podcast for you.