Introducing is a new feature on Box To Box looking at a handpicked selection of magazines, fanzines, websites, blogs, teams, podcasts and individuals who produce great quality content on football and football culture.
This week sees a return to the Introducing feature, looking at a timeless football podcast from down under – By Association. Supported by 3nil FC, the podcast is unlike your usual football podcast where 3 or 4 guys talk about the latest results and instead By Association looks at interesting and insightful short stories about the world game, from personal narratives to club histories and everything in between.
The brains, host and producer behind the project is 29-year-old, James Parkinson, self-confessed sports fan and audio nerd from Melbourne, Australia.
To someone who hasn’t heard of it, how would you describe By Association in one sentence?
James Parkinson: By Association is a narrative podcast about football and the way the game connects people around the world.
What is the story behind the creation of the podcast?
JP: I think I’d had an idea for a football documentary podcast for a little while. I’ve always loved sports documentaries and I’ve been listening to narrative podcasts in other categories for years. But there was nothing like it in the podcast space focused on football stories.
My friend Dan Gribbon, who runs 3nil FC was looking to grow his brand and an audio project was high on the list. This was at the beginning of 2015. So we began brainstorming about what the show could be and what we would call it. When it came to naming the podcast, I wanted to steer clear of clichés and it couldn’t sound cheesy. ‘By Association’ is derived from Association Football and the idea that the game connects fans around the globe and we all share this one passion. And that’s really the core of the show.
What is the unique ‘selling point’ of your project?
JP: Most football podcasts are just three or four guys sitting around talking about the latest football news or results. Which is fine. There’s certainly a place for that and I do listen to a bunch of those shows myself, but it can get a bit much. If you’re looking for something different and you appreciate football beyond the 24-hour news cycle, then I invite you to check it out.
The idea of the show was never to replace those football podcasts you listen to regularly, but rather to add a little variety and allow you to take a break. The football world never stops but hopefully, By Association can provide a little breather. When your team isn’t doing so well, for example, I hope the show can remind you how great this game is.
In addition, the episodes are intentionally short and consumable, ranging from 10 to 20 minutes, and are currently released monthly. I’m very conscious of people’s time so I don’t think it’s a big commitment for a potential listener.
Out of everything you have done through the podcast so far, what are you most proud of/what has been your most enjoyable moment?
JP: I think just the fact that people are listening and that they get what I’m trying to do. Building an audience isn’t easy and the show is still growing, but the people who do listen have been incredibly supportive. Doing any creative work and putting it out into the world can be a daunting thing. So to receive positive feedback from people who appreciate the work I put in is very rewarding.
I’ve also learnt a lot. One of the great things about making this show is learning about football history and helping to shine a light on amazing stories from around the world.
Also, winning an Australian Podcast Award this year was definitely a highlight. It meant that not only were my listeners enjoying what I do but a panel of judges who work in the podcast space had also recognised my work. It’s really encouraging.
What’s next for By Association?
JP: Just trying to improve with every episode I put out. I think the show has a lot of potential that hasn’t been realised yet but it takes time. I’m just one guy making a thing in my bedroom but I’d love for this show to keep growing, reach more people and tell bigger and better stories. There are so many football stories just waiting to be told and I think audio is the perfect medium to tell them.
Do you remember what made you first fall in love with football? Could you pinpoint it to a single moment?
JP: I’d been following the game for several years prior to the event, but Australia qualifying for Germany 2006 is not only a defining moment for football in this country but for so many individuals, including myself. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in the stadium that night on November 16, 2005, but it didn’t matter. Watching the match on TV, I will never forget the passion I felt that night.
Out of all the football websites, magazines, podcasts and projects out there, what are your personal favourites?
JP: I’m a big fan of Glory. It’s a beautiful magazine with a really focused approach. I love that. Howler do a great job too – specifically their Howler Radio podcast. If you like By Association you’ll like Howler Radio. And Where Is Football is one of those projects that just exudes quality and reflects everything I love about the world game.
If someone wanted to collaborate with you at By Association, how would you suggest they went about it?
To someone wanting to start up a similar project to yours, what would be your words of advice?
JP: Know what you’re getting yourself into! Audio storytelling is challenging and even I’m still learning as I go. I put many hours into producing each episode so you have to be pretty committed. But also, this isn’t my first podcast and I came into it with existing audio production skills. If you’re starting from scratch it can be even harder. But do your research and be patient. If you’re passionate about it then you’ll make it work.
For more on By Association, check out the website here and follow the project on Twitter here and Instagram here. To listen to the podcasts, stay tuned on the Box To Box site as we feature the episodes on our site or to listen now subscribe on Apple Podcasts or the podcast app of your choice.