TLYBP: An intelligent Fanzine with a brilliant podcast

I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Norwich City. Norfolk is a wonderful part of England and Norwich is a club rich in history, tradition and has a loyal, knowledgeable fan base. Have you ever seen the YouTube clip of Justin Fashanu’s glorious goal against Liverpool in 1980? On a muddy Carrow Road pitch, wearing the iconic yellow and green colours, Fashanu clips the ball to his left and with a quick turn volleys it past a helpless Ray Clemence. Commentator Barry Davies almost wets himself with excitement and I can understand why. It’s a goal that many a schoolboy tried to replicate in the playground at break-time. Football from a bygone age, a work of art.

Football website Midfield Dynamo ranked Norwich second in their list of “friendliest English fans” and wrote:

Going to the East Anglia area in general is like stepping back in time 40 years, back to a better England, where people are polite, considerate, and doff their caps at you. A place where rosy cheeked youngsters crunch on apples rather than pot noodles, and village life involves sitting on a bale of hay, chewing on a piece of straw, and watching the world go by. Its an image only strengthened by a trip to Carrow Road, where you almost expect the locals to start waving rattles and chanting “ra-ra-ra”.

My respect for Norwich City and their supporters has only been strengthened again by discovering The Little Yellow Bird Project. Jon Rogers and Dan Brigham set up the Little Yellow Bird Project to include insightful and intelligent Norwich City writing and run a podcast (The Little Yellow Bird Podcast) on the site. It is the best football podcast I have heard and I am now a Jon & Dan fanboy forever.

Some football podcasts seem to have this assumption that passion is measured by how much froth you can produce when ranting for ten minutes or by shouting above loud crowd noise in order to bring us the “atmosphere” on pre-recorded commentary. It’s refreshing to hear two guys bring the subject of football to a lighter level where banter and spontaneity can meet intelligence and an encyclopaedic knowledge of Norwich City Football Club. And what other podcast would recycle the home and away theme tune!

I began by asking how Jon and Dan met and how the podcast started:

I had done a podcast before with another Norwich fan. It had the same style as The Little Yellow Pod. Jingles, humour, lighter look at football. I loved doing it – but the issue was I did everything myself. Everything. Writing, recording, editing, admin, and promotion. So I burnt out. Two years later, I wanted to do it again so I was looking for another person to partner up with – but it had to be a joint effort. I’d followed Dan Brigham’s twitter account for a while and found him utterly hilarious, he had a love and knowledge for Norwich but he had the very high respect and experience as a sports writer – so, we met for a drink, decided to continue meeting and shared ideas of how to create something that wasn’t currently represented in our the circles of Norwich City fan site. Bit of fun. – Jon

 

Jon was really keen on a podcast, and we’d knocked about the idea for about a year before finally deciding to get off our arses and do it. And then we thought if we’re bothering to do a podcast we should also do our own website, as there aren’t too many Norwich City fansites out there. – Dan

 

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The Little Yellow Bird Project is a beautifully clean and well designed website. It’s a football site that doesn’t crash your computer or feature ugly betting adverts. It is also fan-funded. The site uses Patreon so that Norwich City fans can donate to keep the site alive and thriving.

No betting adverts, no shitty click baiting, no…click next after one picture and sentence….to grow stats. Dan and I are utterly fed up of those, so others must be too. It’s an online fanzine with interesting, well written content which is well edited by Dan. No restrictions by corporation or committee. As for the Patreon donations..I am embarrassingly thrilled, utterly humbled and we text each other with as many emojis as possible if someone adds $1 (it’s an American site), let alone more than that. We’re currently saving up to spend on equipment to move ourselves to a new avenue of immaturity – which is narrative based documentaries. – Jon

 

Sport is a bit behind things when it comes to selling itself to fans, so we’re still one of the few football sites on Patreon – despite them making plenty of money for writers, artists, musicians and the like. It was actually Typical City, a Man City, site who did it first, and we got in contact with them to do a match preview and the idea kind of clicked then. – Dan

There’s another advantage to using Patreon. The Little Yellow Bird Project hope to be able attract and pay more writers and contributors, and produce live events. They are also able to pay the very talented Jack Holmes. For those who don’t know… Jack co-owns and makes minimalist designs for Minimalist Footy – and he produces all the graphic content for The Little Yellow Bird Project. Dan and Jon are thrilled to have him on board.

Jack came about – when we needed images for the site. We asked the club, the local media and big photography companies – they either ignored us or laughed in our faces.
So I mentioned Jack who created a music video for one of my songs a while back…and asked him again with his new venture of minimalist drawings. He is also paid by Patreon money which is cool. A 16-17 year old kid with a talent getting money for his work makes us happy. He’s brilliant, and his drawings give the website a real identity. It’s a bit more fanziney, I guess, rather than the usual match pictures you get on most sites. – Dan

 

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Running a fanzine – which includes podcast material – takes a huge amount of time and effort?

Dan acts as Editor and Admin for all the writing and website, and I assist as much as I can, but mostly that’s a one person job. I do the writing and production of the podcast again a one person job. We both write for the site and we sometimes swap around a bit. As for the podcast… Dan has a very basic running order. Nothing else. The rest is all spontaneous. I like that haphazard bagginess that we produce personally. Like talking about a man walking past a window. We so have a two minute scripted ‘comedy’ sketch at the beginning. Rest – all off the hoof. Some like that, others don’t. Works for us. We never ever edit though. No edits. – Jon

 

It’s become a bit addictive, actually. When we started out we thought of it – the podcast and website – as a hobby. But it’s taken over more of our lives than a healthy hobby should! It’s fun though, and although it does take up plenty of hours, we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t really enjoy it. The only prep we do for the show is a short quiz, listing people’s tweets and writing a short sketch (which Jon mostly does). Other than that it’s all spontaneous, with no edits. Not only does it save a bit of time, but it gives the podcast a live feel, which we think suits the style. – Dan

It’s a style that certainly works and makes it such a stand-out performer in the world of football podcasting. There’s a unique warmth and intimacy that Dan and Jon bring to each episode. I ask them if they had deliberately set out to create something lighter and less sanctimonious than other football podcasts:

I’ve never really been a ranter or raver about football, and we both like to try and see the funny side of the game. There’s so much worthy bollocks written and said about football that the tradition of guys like Danny Baker and Skinner and Baddiel – people who have something funny and interesting to say – is dying out a bit. Sometimes people just take football too seriously – it’s supposed to cheer you up! – Dan

I don’t listen to a single other football podcast. So I don’t know what other people do. There’s a risk we might copy one day, but on the other hand we don’t pick up bad habits either. There seems to be an influx of anger in football YouTube videos, which can be funny as you don’t see anger very often unless it’s happening to you. So to be a bystander seems to be a ratings earner.

We won’t ever do it because I don’t think I’ve ever been in a mindset to have spit flying out of my mouth, because the manager made a poor substitution. We are a couple of pragmatic guys so – takes a lot for us to be spitty.

 

I like the fact we had someone like Oli Johnson on. He played about 10 games for Norwich when in League One. He admitted he wasn’t good enough and moved on. I loved that interview and it came about in a matter of hours. Tweeted him, talked, exchanged numbers and done. – Jon

Jon and Dan are certainly not afraid to expand and try for the seemingly impossible. David McNally – the former CEO of Norwich City – is not a man who is not overly keen on giving interviews. Not only did Jon and Dan get the interview but they ended up chatting to McNally for 50 minutes. It was quite a coup for The Little Yellow Bird Project:

We were pooping it. We were second guessing why they actually agreed. Simple fact is. I asked, politely and respectfully and we agreed to the boundaries of the interview politely and respectfully. We were allowed 20 minutes. We got 45-50. Dan and I over laughed at his jokes; we didn’t get into too much depth but we were having fun. – Jon

 

I’m a sports journo so I’m kind of used to interviewing people, but this did feel different: we were interviewing him as fans, not as journalists. He responded really well, and was really open, and we got a few exclusive lines out of it that were picked up by the media. – Dan

 

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Dan has no idea about the technical aspects of podcasting and leaves that to Jon. The guys use the USB mic Blue Yeti as a prop in their cover images (you can use this mic and get a reasonable sound for around 100 quid). But the set up for The Yellow Little Podcast is far more sophisticated and expensive: Jon explains –

We have a USB mixing desk, with 4 inputs, 2/3 handheld mics and I record it on my MacBook Pro onto Logic Pro X, a music production software – we have a jingle player too which we’re going to use MUCH more in Season 2.
All together that’s about £2000-£2500 worth of equipment. Which I’ve built up over six years or so. A lot of money, but we’ve invested in it. We think our podcast sounds more professional than 75% of other professional podcasts out there – and we’re proud of that.

We then turn our attention to football matters. Norwich City – as I am sure everyone knows now – have been relegated. David McNally has left the club and Alex Neil’s future is uncertain.

In his latest article on the site titled “Goodbye, Dave” – Jon Rogers look back at McNally and what his legacy will be for Norwich City: 

Among the seven-year plan, letting me witness Wembley, and the 9-2 games, there is one thing where David McNally really went really wrong. Where he had full control to the decision and didn’t use it. He never pressed the deactivate button on Twitter, which would have silenced that little voice of the unappreciative from his life, which became his downfall.

 

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I cheekily ask if a reunion between former boss Paul Lambert and Norwich City could be on the cards in the summer. The guys were both pragmatic in their reply:

No. Like banging your ex, who ‘effed off with a richer bloke. He was special. But now, the most important word here is….was. I wouldn’t go back. – Jon

 

Ha, it’d be tempting… But no. We did that with Mike Walker – the manager who took us into Europe – and his return was a shithouse disaster.- Dan

We’re all agreed that the biggest problem for Norwich City this season has been recruitment:

We can’t seem to sign that one player that hits the ground running and transforms us. Timm Klose was amazing then his knee fell off. Bamford, Naismith…I’d rather have the cast from Robot Wars or Strictly Come Dancing zipping about. – Jon

 

We went into the season knowing we needed to improve our forward options and bring some class into the back four. But we did neither in the summer, and that’s cost us. We also lost our identity a bit when we were hammered 6-2 by Newcastle in November – we went from a confident attacking team to a nervy defensive side. – Dan

 

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There is a bit of mischief in me by mentioning the name Paul Lambert because I actually think Alex Neil has done a good job since taking over. His post-match comments following the Watford game do seem to suggest that he is considering his future this summer:

We’ve not taken opportunities and we’ve made vital errors in certain games. I’ve made poor decisions in hindsight at certain times over the season, the recruitment wasn’t as good as we hoped to strengthen the squad..and when you combine all those factors then it’s always going to be very difficult to stay in this division. I feel that I’ve let the club and supporters down. – Alex Neil

Both Jon and Dan would like Alex Neil to stay on as Manager:

I was sure he’d stay until he said he is currently questioning it. But he’s a young man with a young family. I very much doubt he’ll quit. Financially it would be a terrible move but he is a unique man in the world of Premier League football. Brave, strong, his own man – so who knows. Hope not. – Jon

 

He’ll be here. He was asked a direct question about whether he was assessing his position and he gave an honest answer – that he’d look at his own performance at the end of the season. It’s good he’s honest with himself, but I can’t seem him thinking he should go. He’ll know that with a decent striker, or if we’d signed Klose in the summer, we’d probably be safe. – Dan

 

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I read something in the Daily Telegraph which reminded me why I love Aston Villa and Norwich City and why football is such a huge part of my life:

And so what followed was a most curious 45 minutes, as the home supporters do when all hope is lost; they sang “Ipswich Town, we’re coming for you”, they roared, all of a sudden relishing the prospect of renewing parochial rivalries. After that one ended, they broke out
“City till I die”. The noise split the ears and warmed the heart. In those 45 minutes, Norwich’s fans reminded everyone that the ebst thing about supporting a football team is not winning, but belonging..Jonathan Liew, Daily Telegraph

Jon Rogers can be found here -: https://twitter.com/BigGrantHolt

Dan Bringham can be found here -: https://twitter.com/@dan_brigham

All photos property of Jack Holmes.

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