We’re excited to announce that the Final Whistle podcast, which has been reporting on Wrexham games since the LDV Vans Final victory in 2005, is the longest-running football podcast in the world!
Launched by Mark Griffiths at the Millennium Stadium after our 2-0 victory over Southend United, which saw us win our first trophy outside the auspices of the Welsh FA, the broadcast was part of the Wrexham Supporters Association’s Hospital Broadcast.
The broadcast provided live commentary on all Wrexham home games to Wrexham Maelor hospital, starting in the 1950s. This expanded in the early 1990s to include commentary on the football club’s Wrexham Player platform, and commentary of away games was introduced in 1999.
The first podcast was produced in the USA in 2003, and the concept swiftly became popular in the States.
The UK was slower to catch on, but in the Summer of 2005 the football podcast scene began to grow, with news organisations launching what would become well established football podcasts. The most notable and long-lived examples are Guardian Weekly and The Times' The Game. However Final Whistle predates them both by two months!
The Celtic Underground podcast was previously thought to be the longest-running football podcast made by fans rather than professionally produced, with its first episode going out in 2006.
Mark Griffiths and Lee Milford react to a Wrexham goal in a calm, unbiased manner on the Wrexham Player commentary.
“It’s taken a long time and a lot of research to establish with confidence that we’re the longest-running football podcast out there,” Griffiths explains. “The ephemeral nature of podcasts, and social media in general, means exact start dates can be hard to find.
“Lots of people start up podcasts and then lose interest in them. Very few carefully record their history, and even fewer bother to publicise how old their podcasts are.
“It wasn’t too difficult to establish that Final Whistle is the oldest football podcast in Britain, but investigating whether that claim could be extended globally was a much longer task.
“I found what appeared to be competition for the title of longest-running football podcast in the USA. Soccergirl Incorporated claimed to have been podcasting since 2005. However, further investigation led me to find it had morphed into a comedy podcast called Keith and the Girl, and Soccergirl was no longer taking part. The football element of the podcast had been removed, and no other international football podcast predates Final Whistle!”
By 2005, Griffiths was already hooked on podcasts and decided to make one himself, on the only subject he felt qualified to comment on!
“I’ve been commentating on Wrexham games since 1988”, Griffiths explains, “and always felt it would be nice to have somewhere to analyse the game instead of just switching off the broadcast at the final whistle and leaving it until the next week.
“The first podcast was produced after the LDV Vans Final at the Millennium Stadium. It felt like the right time to start something which allowed me to say what I thought, not just about the matches, but also what was going on around the club.
Gary Bennett gets the full polo neck and mullet experience after securing promotion in 1993.
“The ownership problems which ensnared Wrexham AFC were in full spate at the time. We were in administration, and would ultimately be demoted from League One through the 10-point penalty we suffered – we were the first club to be penalized in that manner, despite our entering administration being a way to wrest control of the club away from the owner rather than the financial manipulation the rule was introduced to deter.
“For a number of reasons, I felt I‘d not been able to contribute to the groundswell of dissent which had built up around the jeopardy the club was in. When I realized what potential podcasting had, I was keen to give it a go.
“It developed from there, really. I loved doing the post-match reports, and still do. I liked to show how immediate they were by using the last few moments of my match commentary as the start of the podcast and going straight into the match report the moment we heard the final whistle – hence the name!
Andy Parkinson and Neil Williams enjoy a big home win in the Hot Take podcast.
“The crises around the club meant more was needed though, so Dragon Chat started up on the same feed, a weekly chat show about general club news as well as the football.
“The tireless work of the WSA’s committee allowed us to establish ourselves and flourish. Without their considerable support, we would never have been able to keep broadcasting. It makes me proud to think about how this club is built on the tireless work of such selfless people, who don’t seek the limelight, but merely want to put in the hours to serve this storied club and its brilliant fans."
As time has gone on, the podcast has developed in other directions too. In 2020, the Final Whistle team took over the Club’s Calon FM show DragonHeart too.
In a busy week for the podcast team, DragonHeart moves this week from its usual Friday evening slot to Wednesday, produced from Calon’s town-centre studios, to ensure it has a chance to breathe before the weekend’s football. The latest DragonHeart will be available as a video on the Club's YouTube channel and in audio form on our Soundcloud channel tonight.
Perhaps most radically, the traditional Final Whistle podcast has now split in two: the Hot Take podcast offers an immediate reaction once the game ends, and a more considered, detailed analysis of events follows later, after watching the game through again.
We also produce Y Chwiban Terfynol, the Club’s post-match Welsh language podcast, as well as preview podcasts and occasional specials. DragonHeart, Hot Take, Y Chwiban Terfinol and Final Whistle are also available on Wrexham AFC’s YouTube channel.
The third oldest Club in the world, with the oldest international stadium in the world, deserves to have its story chronicled. It seems appropriate for that story to be told on the oldest football podcast in the world.