Introducing is a feature looking at a handpicked selection of magazines, fanzines, websites, blogs, teams, projects and individuals who produce great quality content on football and football culture. 
In the latest edition of our Introducing series, we speak to the trio behind First Time Finish, a new football website sharing in-depth analysis and insight of clubs and players with unique tales. Hailing from London, Visakhpatnam, Yeovil respectively, the project was founded in 2020 by Bence Bocsak, Ninad Barbadikar and Tom Underhill.
From a background in freelance football writing, the three co-founders came together to create the website during the website, trying to write from different angles and find unique stories in the world of football.
To someone who hasn’t heard of it, how would you describe First Time Finish in one sentence?
Bence Bocsak: First Time Finish is a website that’s all about what makes football great, we write with passion and we interview people who have had interesting experiences within the sport. From international managers to Premier League players and everything in between.
Ninad Barbadikar: To describe First Time Finish, I would say it is a website with some of the most in-depth stories of clubs and players with a unique story.
Tom Underhill: Football stories told with flair and passion.
What is the story behind the creation of the project?
BB: The story is simple. When the pandemic hit the absence of football allowed me to reflect back on the sport. There were no games to watch so I found myself reading more. And I realised there was an opening for a website like ours in the market.

I first approached Ninad, and then Tom. I came across their works and I saw that they had a similar writing style and similar interests. Over the next few months through a series of meetings and lots of discussions we came up with the concept of the website. Tom had the idea for the name, Ninad came up with the concept of our header and together we also designed the logo. It was a lot of planning and building the website took time.

Then came the hard part of finding contacts. Thankfully, we somehow managed to launch with a pretty big exclusive as we were able to talk to Alphonso Davies’ agent and former coaches for the first in our Inside Story series right after the Champions League final. How we managed that I still have no idea! The sequence of events to be able to talk to Nick Huoseh and get his number still gives me a buzz.
Alphonso Davies
What makes your project unique?
BB: What’s unique about us is that we try to write from different angles and find unique stories. Like most recently I wanted to write about Jens Petter Hauge, but I couldn’t find anyone to contact so shelved the idea. Then I start talking to Scott Chickelday who is the former coach of Harvey Elliott and it turned out he had a pretty crazy story about Hauge too, and so because I had that unique angle on Hauge we were able to publish a story that has never been told.
That’s what makes FTF special. We don’t have the biggest audience yet, but I guarantee you most of the content on our website you won’t find anywhere else on the internet. Maybe unless if you pay a subscription.
NB: What makes First Time Finish unique is that our pieces and stories are a fine balance of analysis and story, it also helps that the people we’ve spoken to, have been very open with their answers. So that’s helped us in a big way.
TU: We try to tell our stories from viewpoints that others do not. There are a million articles written about the best players, but what about a story from the perspective of the scout that discovered them? The first captain Bruno Fernandes played under for example. This is where our originality comes from, desperately staying away from regurgitating mainstream news.
Do you remember what made you first fall in love with football, could you pinpoint it to a single moment?

BB:For me it wasn’t a single moment, rather I fell in love with the ball. As a kid I didn’t really watch football games, however I loved to play the game. From about age 5 or 6 all I did every minute of everyday was play football, in school, in my back-garden with my brother and my football team. Having the ball at my feet or chasing it still gives me this rush that I can’t really find the words to explain.

 

NB:My first memory of watching football on the telly is the World Cup in South Africa and watching Siphiwe Tshabalala score for his country was one of the most beautiful moments for me as a fan.

 

TU:2006 FA Cup Final. I’m not a Liverpool fan, but the drama of that game, and Gerrard’s incredible late goal set my heart and football passion alight.

Out of everything you have done through First Time Finish so far, what are you most proud of/what has been your most enjoyable moment?
BB: I think every single inside story that the guys have done has been incredible. We’ve been able to write such in depth stories about the world’s best players and most exciting talents by interviewing those closest to them, from their coaches to their agents, those are the pieces I’m proudest about.
Personally, my favourite has been the interview I did with Tayshan Hayden-Smith and Grenfell. His story was really inspiring and it’s one that I’m glad many of our audience responded really well to because it deserves to be read.
NB: Out of everything we’ve done so far, I’ve been most proud of the piece we did on North Korea’s Han Kwang Song, a player whose circumstance has denied him what could be a fantastic career in European football. I think it’s best of Ben’s many excellent works on the site.
TU: For me personally, interviewing the director of football at Athletic Club de Boulogne-Billancourt who coached Marcus Thuram as a teenager. The story of Marcus wearing his dad Lilian’s World Cup winning boots at training epitomises everything that we are about, and it just blew my mind that I was able to do it.
Grenfell Athletic
What next for First Time Finish?

BB: Hopefully we continue to grow. We are excited to bring on a new Features Writer in George Hartley who is a really talented writer and podcaster. We recently launched a podcast, and we will be bringing out a very special set of prints in the coming weeks too so keep an eye out for that. 

 

TU: Continuing our trajectory to becoming a widely respected football site. We have launched a podcast to widen our reach and content, and to really stake a foothold as a publication people are excited by,

Out of all the football websites, magazines, podcasts, projects out there, what are your personal favourites?
BB: My ultimate favourite magazine was Mundial, Scouted Football is another and of course The Athletic too as well as COPA90 and Rabona TV. I would also recommend author Lee Scott, the way he combines analysis and narrative writing is out of this world. His books are a must-read. As is David Goldblatt’s books on world football.
TU: Scouted Football are right up there. Not just the content but their presentation and quality of product are incredibly inspiring. Tifo Football too, and author wise Michael Cox and Lee Scott.
If someone wanted to collaborate with you at First Time Finish, how would you suggest they went about it?

TU: Send us an email at firsttimefinishbusiness@gmail.com, or drop one of me, Ninad or Ben a DM on Twitter. We love to hear your suggestions!

 

BB: Like Tom said, send us a DM or email us. I would give one advice we have had a few submissions where writers don’t really check out the content on our website and pitch us content that doesn’t adhere to our mission. So I’d recommend taking a scroll through our website to see what we are about before pitching anything.

Han Kwang Song
To someone wanting to start up a similar project to yours, what would be your words of advice?

BB: I would say have a clear goal and a vision and try to be unique because it’s a hard industry and there are already so many great projects. I would also say do not get discouraged by that either. Because football is a game of perspectives and I think everyone’s perspective is different and people will want to hear your voice and you can always find an audience who will resonate with what you do, especially in today’s age of social media. 

 

TU: Don’t think about it as you’ll talk yourself out of it! I spent months umming and ahhing about setting up my own blog, and without it, I wouldn’t be a part of First Time Finish!