The Blue Moon Podcast - Then and Now
Written by David Mooney
Getting to Air
It all started when I finished university in the summer of 2009 and expected to get a job. Armed with a 2:1 in Journalism from the University of Central Lancashire, a desire to work for the BBC, and a woefully misjudged level of confidence in my own abilities, I began applying for jobs that were above what I was ever going to get at the time.
Throughout the course, I’d been told about how competitive the industry was. I’d just assumed things would all work out for me in the end and kept on applying for roles that required more experience than I had. I left university in May. By August, the Job Centre were pushing me towards an IT role , because I was “good with computers”.
When I’d started university, I’d expected to finish as a qualified print journalist. I was submitting snippets of work to the City fanzine King of the Kippax and writing a weekly City column for Football Fancast. But after one module of radio, with a lovely (and now retired) lecturer, I’d changed my mind entirely. I specialised in broadcast journalism in year two, and radio journalism in year three.
As August 2009 began, and with no job on the horizon, I decided to turn writing into radio. The first person I approached was Ric Turner, creator of the Blue Moon Forum, and asked if he would host a show on his website, which he kindly agreed to do.
My next port of call was to get someone who could host the show with me. I didn’t want to be speaking into the void on my own. Initially, I wanted to make entertaining discussions, with interviews, around the fortnight’s City news. I’d been reading Andy Dolan’s pieces in King of the Kippax for a while and I saw he’d done some work at the Manchester Evening News, so I was pleased when he agreed.
Ten years on, I asked Andy why he said yes: “I think I had the arrogance of youth that my opinions were unique and valuable and everyone would want to hear them,” he said. “I'd got into podcasts relatively early so from the perspective of a young wannabe journalist I knew it was the future and something worth getting involved in.”
We met for the first time minutes before recording the first show – at full time of City’s 2-1 win over Celtic in the pre-season of 2009-10. From there, we wandered back to my parked car, found a quiet spot, and hit record.
“I feel like we riffed a lot more than we probably should have done,” Andy continued. The first few shows were very much ad-libbed, with very little in the way of a running order. Meetings post-match in the early days weren’t always easy, though: “The low point was probably running round Oxford Road in the rain near the Manchester Aquatics Centre trying to find the car. I saw it at a red light and I was sprinting to get there before the light changed. I was too late and you had to drive off.”
STRAWBERRY STUDIOS IN STOCKPORT: This was the home of the Blue Moon Podcast for many years and also where the Manchester City squad recorded the song Boys in Blue.
POST-PRODUCTION: Dan Burns edits audio that has just been recorded during Season 2 of the show.
MISSING OUT ON THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Peter Crouch scores to send Tottenham into the Champions League ahead of City - and it's one of Dan Burns' first memories of the podcast.
GREENBANK STUDIO: A young David Mooney sits at the desk in the Greenbank building at UCLan.
CHANGE-OVER: City swapped Mark Hughes for Roberto Mancini in the podcast's first season.
Another member of the team that was with us from the start was Howard Hockin. I’d originally asked him to do a monologue recording rounding up what had been in the newspapers since the last show. “I was a bit puzzled to be asked, to be honest,” Howard said of that time. “I had no idea what a podcast was. Having looked up what it was, I assumed David had gone insane thinking people would want to hear my views.
“It took me eight years to listen to my own voice, so fair to say I was excited at the thought but a tad out of my comfort zone. I'd only every known writing.”
We got lucky with the timing of the show’s launch. It went live before BBC Radio Manchester debuted Blue Tuesday, fronted by their City commentator at the time, Ian Cheeseman, and ex-City captain Paul Lake. Equally, the Official Manchester City Podcast, run by the club itself, had finished at the end of the previous season, as the media team there began to put all their efforts into their newly-formed online video channel, CityTV.
With no other City fan podcasts about at the time, it was launched at exactly the right time to fill the gap and became the first of what is now quite a crowded field.
The show was originally fortnightly. I was aware of what commitment it would take to do a podcast every week – even 15-30 minutes as they were back then – and the plan was that the show would exist alongside my search for work. It also meant that, in the week where there wasn’t a show, I was able to prepare an interview. We managed to have 19 episodes in that first season and there was an interview with somebody City-related in each.
About halfway through the year, though, there was a fork in the road. Andy left the show when he was given a job on a cruise ship and was touring the Mediterranean rather than sitting in my car on a drizzly Saturday evening chatting about the last fortnight at City. It was around the time that the club sacked Mark Hughes and brought in Roberto Mancini, that the podcast pulled off a masterstroke – filling Andy’s shoes was Dan Burns, a journalism student at the University of Central Lancashire.
I’d known Dan throughout my time there – we’d actually met in the first weeks since arriving – but he’d had to drop back after being taken seriously ill during the middle year. We’d often talked about City during our time playing pool and snooker in a pub called Arkwright’s. My record of 10 wins in a row (retired) on the pool table remained intact until the final weeks of the third year.
But, more crucially, having Dan on board meant access to the university’s facilities – which meant the podcast would be recorded in a radio studio, with broadcast-quality equipment, for the very first time. Every other Thursday morning, I would drive the 30 miles to Preston from Manchester, record the show with Dan, eat lunch there and then drive home to edit it all together. Not only was this the first time we got into a studio, but it was the first time we had a regular day to broadcast on: Friday mornings. It’s been the same ever since.
“It all started when Mooney was looking for an on-air partner in the first season and the Greenbank building at UCLan was where it all started for us as a pair,” Dan said. “I vividly remember a tough early podcast recording after a defeat to Spurs, where we were downcast because City had missed out on the Champions League – but, on the whole, I remember good fun in the early days.”
Perhaps the biggest piece of good fortune that I ever had in my career was that somebody heard the Blue Moon Podcast in its first season and didn’t entirely hate it. Out of the blue, I got a phone call from Ric – explaining that a man named Damien Walsh, the then-owner of Imagine FM in Stockport, wanted to speak to us, with a view of doing a live version of the show. We went in, discussed the idea, and left ready to go to air to talk City on a Sunday evening.
It’s probably fair to say that that first incarnation of Blue Moon Live was a train wreck. It was pegged as a phone-in, but there was nobody phoning in and it was a painful hour of me and Dan chatting back and forth about the previous day’s match. It was trialled for the final four weeks of 2009-10 and, over the summer, it was decided that things would need to change for it to be a success.
Me and Dan had our roles edited slightly and we became panellists on the show for the 2010-11 season. In came one of Imagine FM’s journalists, Chris Prince, as the host – and it became more like what the Blue Moon Podcast is today. The live show, now dubbed Blue Moon Live, had Chris asking me and Dan the questions to analyse City’s matches, plus topical features cut to music or interviews about the club.
We were told by Imagine FM that there was no budget to pay us to do the show – so, in return, I asked if we could use their studio free of charge whenever we wanted to.
The Podcast’s recordings switched at this point to alternate Friday mornings. The show was still fortnightly, but owing to City having qualified for the newly-renamed Europa League, we could no longer put each fortnight’s episode together in the daytime on the Thursday – as it would immediately be out of date by the following morning.
There was another change to the line-up, too. Paul Atherton, a man who had been bugging me for some time to do the show and someone who I’d only ever met and played football with in the first instance because a friend of mine got into a row with him online, became our resident go-to person to discuss the knockout competitions.
“It wasn’t actually my first time doing something with the podcast,” Paul said. “I was there when David went to interview Vincent Kompany after the Manchester Derby loss in the League Cup in 2010. I just asked David if I could tag along and the next thing I was sitting opposite the defender at Carrington.”
It’s true. I’d spent weeks nagging the press office at City for an interview with the then-midfielder and early in the January they accepted the request, possibly just to make me go away more than anything else. Ten years on, I’m still here and still asking.
Paul was a university student at the time and he didn’t drive. Because I’m a total mug, I’d agreed to bring him along to the interview, which was early in the morning after the 3-1 loss in the second leg of the League Cup semifinal at Old Trafford. Not only was I in a rush to get to Carrington, but I drove out of my way to grab him – only to find he was still in bed when I arrived.
Whenever you get a text message off Paul Atherton that says he’s “2 minutes” away from coming out of his front door to meet you, what it usually means is “I’m about 15 minutes away from being ready”. When you don’t get a text at all, it usually means he’s 10 minutes away from saying he’s two minutes away.
I threatened to leave without him twice before actually starting to leave without him, only for him to catch up to me as I was leaving his accommodation car park.
By this time, Dan was travelling from his home in Chester to do both the podcast and Blue Moon Live. “It was only Chester,” he said when I asked him why he made the long trip. “I suppose once we’d started to get somewhere, it became habit almost and something to look forward to in the week.
“Good people were involved and they were great lads to share thoughts on air, too. It was something you wanted to be a part of, and I never really wanted to stop until my daughter came on the scene.”
BLUE MOON LIVE: In April 2010, David Mooney and Dan Burns took the show to do a live edition on Imagine FM - where there was an inflatable receptionist at the time.
STUDIO FUN: David Mooney and Paul Atherton record, while Dan Burns takes a sneaky photo through the window.
THE FIRST BIG INTERVIEW: David Mooney spoke to Vincent Kompany in January 2010 - the first time a first team player appeared exclusively on the Blue Moon Podcast.
SILVERWARE IN THE STUDIO: The League Cup made a stop off at the Blue Moon Podcast studio in 2014 - and David Mooney and Sam Roscoe couldn't help themselves but get a photo.
BALOTELLI BULLSEYE: Dan Burns presents the 'board' for his own version of the 1980s and 1990s ITV gameshow.
FIVE-TIME WINNER: Dan Burns and David Mooney spoke to five-time FA Cup winner Patrick Vieira for the show in 2011.
That’s how things stayed for a while. There was still me, Dan and Paul – who, by the third season of the show, had stopped doing just the knockout competitions and had got involved with the main discussion. I hosted most shows, though Dan would take the lead from time to time because of his experience doing similar at university, too.
But at the end of 2011-12, after City had been crowned Champions of the Premier League for the first time, the team shuffled around. Dan was beginning to find the journeys over from Chester more difficult as he began to get more hours at work, so it was increasingly just me and Paul recording shows. By the Christmas of 2012-13, about 10 or 12 episodes into the campaign, Dan had made just one recording.
At the same time, I’d been getting some work with Imagine FM. I was doing their news on a Sunday morning, four bulletins of live newsreading, plus writing and cutting for later in the week. I was also covering shifts when Chris was having time off work. It was at that time that Blue Moon Live, the Imagine FM show, had joined Twitter – and was bringing in people, usually students starting their careers, to tweet throughout the show and get some audience interaction.
One of them – who later went on to become Imagine FM’s apprentice and get a job with the station – was Sam Rosbottom. On air, he was Sam Roscoe. He took to it like a duck to water and, one week when both Paul and Dan were unavailable, he joined me for an episode of the Blue Moon Podcast. It was clear then we couldn’t not invite him back.
“Fortunately, I don’t remember much about the initial shows I did as a panellist,” Sam said. “I have horrible flashbacks of a terribly squeaky voice, and equally terrible opinions on football. In the early days, I hadn’t learnt the art of sitting on a fence and if I was going to argue a point, I was always going to go in and plant my flag in the middle of the pitch, like a certain Galatasaray manager once literally did.”
By the start of the 2013-14 campaign, the team had become me, Sam and Paul – with the three of us in the studio every fortnight, producing a show often up to 90 minutes in length. Even at this stage, though, the podcast was still more of an amateur hospital radio show than it was a serious piece of football analysis – with games, quizzes, singing and silliness always an option, often encourage.
In fact, Dan Burns recalls one game he invented for the final show of the 2011-12 season: “One highlight was recording after the 2012 title win. I brought a bottle of champagne to the studio, which I’m sure made for great listening. We also each had to set our own quiz, and my old man helped me come up with Balotelli Bullseye – a darts game based on the TV show. It still makes me laugh how we actually did it with a magnetic darts board while recording.”
In the run-in of the 2013-14 title season, there were some weeks where Sam’s university work and Paul’s actual job got in the way of them appearing on the show. It ended up with Richard Burns stepping in to help one week, making the transition from Blue Moon Live, where he’d been a regular on air contributor from day one, and a week where two Robs – Pollard and Wilson – helped out, too.
Rob Pollard, then working for Bleacher Report covering City, turned out to be too good to not invite back and was a natural in front of the microphone. For the final weeks of the season, we recorded as a foursome – with shows hosted by me, and Sam, Rob and Paul on the panel.
Remembering those days in 2014, Rob said: “I can't remember too much about the first show - I just remember the name of it, 'The Oldest Roadworthy Vehicle in the UK'. That came from a line I'd given about Sam Roscoe's car, which has always stuck with me.
“I remember being really honoured to do it and, when I listened back to the first episode, being really thrilled to be given that platform. I had listened before I was asked on, so it was nice to be on and I remember listening back and getting a real buzz out of it.”
Tensions and a Change of Format
It was clear that, by the end of 2013-14, the podcast was getting out of hand and we were losing sight of what we wanted to do. If truth be told, I’d let it get the better of me – it resulted in a two-hour broadcast every fortnight, often with too many features and ideas, too many guests, and studio sessions that could last upwards of three hours.
“A two hour show every fortnight did a job for some of our listeners,” Sam remembered, “but it was obvious that we were falling behind and not being as reactive as we would have liked to have been at the time.”
By the end of that year, there were regular problems getting the guests enough air-time to make it worth their while coming – what’s the point in being on the show if you only speak once every 10 minutes? – and keeping things brief and interesting enough that people didn’t switch off. It just wasn’t working.
For the next season, it was decided: several features had to go. We dropped the quiz, removed the rant line – an answerphone where listeners could ring in and we’d play their messages – and we moved Ask The Panel to the end, replacing another segment of audience interaction. There were also to be only two features maximum each week.
The other biggest change came on the presenting front. Anybody who knows me well will know quite how much of a control freak I am, so giving up part of what I’d spent – by this stage – five seasons crafting was a big deal for me. But with Sam now presenting daily on Imagine FM and with his experience of how the show worked, it meant I trusted him with my baby. This is like picking somebody to take good care of your children, it’s a decision that can’t be taken lightly – and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Sam was a perfect host for the show.
It helped, of course, that I had just accepted the job of journalist at Imagine FM, too. As a result, it meant I shared the office with Sam on a daily basis – and we could work together making features for the show, when really we should have been working.
We went weekly. Instead of producing a two-hour show each fortnight, with tensions and out-of-date discussion and not enough room in the studio and too many guests, we decided to make one hour every week instead. We’d alternate who hosted – so, in theory, it was still a fortnightly gig for each of me and Sam – and the panel would change on a weekly basis, too.
“It felt so right,” Sam said. “I think some podcasts are a bit overkill and keeping up with them at times is a task in itself, and a two-hour show was definitely overkill. I was starting out in the world of media and it was a great way for me to get real hands-on experience producing and presenting what essentially was a one-hour radio show.
“As I progressed into radio, making shows was a pleasure. Having the creative licence to bring to life something that I am very passionate about – both football and radio – was invaluable. But it also came with responsibility, and I was always conscious to get the best out of the panel, while making sure the show always had a balance of views.
AWARD NOMINATIONS: By the fifth season, the Blue Moon Podcast was getting nominated for awards. It's yet to win - and here, David Mooney, Howard Hockin, Paul Atherton and Sam Roscoe drown their sorrows.
FESTIVE FUN: Sam Roscoe and David Mooney don their Christmas jumpers for a recording in the pub.
PODCAST GUEST: David Mooney behind the Imagine FM desk, with the League Cup in 2014.
JOINING THE REGULARS: Richard Burns is, in his words, "making a serious point" on the podcast. He has a lot more hair here than he does now, something I'm sure he won't mind us pointing out.
PODCAST LIVE: Former City captain Andy Morrison joins Richard Burns, Rob Pollard and Paul Atherton on the panel for the first Blue Moon Podcast live show.
“That is one of the main reasons why I enjoy the range of guests we have. There is such a wide spectrum of views. You listen to it to hear about City and you come away from it having learnt something, understanding a view that you wouldn’t necessarily agree with and for me that is what I am most proud about.”
Going weekly also meant expanding the pool of available guests, which is where Richard Burns became a regular – along with others, like Jonathan Smith, and Howard Hockin making the step up to being in the studio with us.
“I'd stood in for Mooney on the first ever Blue Moon Live show in 2010,” Richard says. “A friend put my name forward as a City fan as he knew the host of the show needed a panellist to fill in and I was happy to do it. I ended up becoming a regular and Mooney invited me to do the podcast in 2014.
“I really enjoy the Ask The Panel bit of the show. It's easy to get into the bubble of just thinking that the conversation is for three people sitting in a room talking together, but then a question comes in that we haven't thought about and it really puts you on the spot. I like that.”
I still spring a quiz on the panel from time-to-time, but there isn’t one every week like in the old days. Richard’s never a fan of me doing that: “They're great fun, but I hate getting questions wrong.”
Neither me nor Howard can remember why he made the change into joining the panel in the studio. I’d always known he was shy and that recording on his own and emailing it across was the best way to get him involved in the first place, but I can’t remember whether it was me who asked him or him who asked me to be a panellist.
“Doing studio stuff is not only far more fulfilling, but was a good way for me to get over my fear of public speaking,” Howard said. “I still remember the dry throat syndrome of my first ventures outdoors.” Years later, he's a natural.
One regular listener also became a member of the team, as Dan Burke got home from his travels. “It was a great cure for homesickness when I was in Australia and South America,” he said of the podcast in 2015-16. “I will never forget listening to it while lying in the dark on my hostel bunkbed at night. City weren’t doing brilliantly and being so far away from home, I didn’t have many ways of venting my frustrations, so it was always great to listen to a brilliant podcast made by City fans who share the same feelings towards the club as I do.
“I started writing for Typical City while I was travelling and there was a fair bit of overlap between the people who wrote for the blog and those who contributed to the podcast. I remember telling my girlfriend that when we got home, I really wanted to try and get involved with the podcast and when I got back to Manchester, I met up with the guys for the first time and asked David if there was any chance of me coming on one day.
“He said he was going to ask me the same question, and a couple of weeks later I made my debut.”
We’d also decided to focus more on creating topical features set to music than to break our backs to get a City-related interview for each show. Of course, we wouldn’t stop doing those one-to-one chats with City guests, but it eased the pressure on weeks when nobody returned calls or emails bounced back.
Originally, Blue Moon Live had more features than interviews, while the Blue Moon Podcast was the other way around. For the podcast, we spent the first few years having a straight question-answer session with an ex-player, manager, or staff member – while, for the Imagine FM show, we would also do more of the topical packages that the podcast has now.
A package is just a piece of radio jargon, which means a report – it includes a script read by a presenter plus clips of interviews to illustrate a point. They don’t have to be, but we set them to music – purely to make them sound distinctly different from the rest of the show. I’ve always been a big advocate of changing the sound of something to keep listeners engaged throughout an hour-long broadcast – it’s harder to do that when it’s just a panel speaking with each other for 60 minutes.
Some of the interviews we did were a nightmare to edit – especially the longer ones – though the weeks where there is an interview over a package are a dream. Packages can be slow to make: interviews have to be sourced, and then the clips then have to be cut and the script written. When that’s done, either me or Sam would head into the studio and record the script – which would then need to be chopped up, have the interview clips inserted into the right places, and then the music mixed underneath.
On a good week, that could take four hours… on a bad week, it could be double that.
When it comes to music, there is normally a connection between something said in the script or in an interview clip. We like to try and have a bit of fun with it, so keep an eye on the songs used or the artists when it comes to the topics. It’s all very Homes Under The Hammer, if you watch that.
For two-and-a-half years, that’s how the show ran. Me and Sam did an equal number of episodes throughout the season and we booked guests each month, too. We started branching out from the regulars to bring in some big hitters of City coverage: Simon Mullock, the Sunday Mirror’s Chief Football Writer, started doing some shows, as did Stuart Brennan, the Chief City Writer at the Manchester Evening News, for instance.
At the end of that first season, Sam came up with one of his most ambitious ideas. It was late in the day, but planning had never been one of our strong points, so we bit the bullet and did it: We booked a room, told people where and when to go, convinced former City captain Andy Morrison to join us, and we recorded the final show of the season in front of an audience.
That became a regular thing – with Paul Dickov and Nicky Weaver joining us in seasons to come, as I rattled through my contacts from the 1999 Division Two Playoff Final.
“Being on a panel in front of a live audience alongside Paul Dickov – a childhood hero of mine – was genuinely one of the best things I’ve ever done,” Dan Burke said. “Paul was a great and totally humble guy who didn’t for one second act like his opinion as a former player carried more weight than mine or Richard’s, even though it definitely did!”
SUITED AND BOOTED: Sam Roscoe and David Mooney at the FSF Awards in December 2017 - another award nomination the show didn't win.
TALKING CITY: Either Dan Burke is launching a stand-up career or here he is talking at Blue Moon Podcast Live.
READY FOR ACTION: Behind the scenes of one episode of the Blue Moon Podcast live show.
ALL CHANGE: As Pep Guardiola took charge at Manchester City, the Blue Moon Podcast needed to relocate its shows.
LIVE SHOW: David Mooney, Sam Roscoe, Paul Dickov, Richard Burns and Dan Burke after the 2016 live podcast recording.
Things became more difficult when Pep Guardiola took charge of City, though. After two full seasons of weekly shows, with me and Sam sharing the production responsibilities, I left my role at Imagine FM to take up a position on a BBC training scheme and go freelance. As a result, the studio we had called home since 2010 was, at that point, only available for Sam’s shows and I needed to find somewhere else.
That was a problem. Up to that point, the podcast had run entirely on our own bank balances and all of the production costs were covered by either me or Sam. I certainly couldn’t afford to hire a studio and, even though we’d launched a Patreon page at the beginning of that campaign, there wasn’t enough in the kitty to be able to get somewhere to record. It meant Sam’s shows stayed at Imagine FM, while mine were generally recorded in Richard Burns’s living room – on the same handheld device as the episodes in the first half of the first series were made.
“It was great for me,” Richard says. “Obviously, for the show it wasn't ideal - you can't get that studio quality in a normal front room. But it meant that, at a point where the future of the show wasn't certain, we were able to keep everything going on our normal schedule and I was just really happy to help out with that. And, of course, it meant there was less travel for me which was a small bonus!”
While listeners didn’t particularly notice a problem with the audio quality, I was never really satisfied. It was good quality – still better quality than Skype or FaceTime produce – but it was a marked step down from being in a studio. There was echo. There was background noise. There was the problem of finding somewhere that was a good enough location for the three panellists to meet.
In the end, I bit the bullet. As well as working shifts for the BBC, I was freelancing with another local radio station, Revolution, in Oldham. We struck up a contra deal – I would work unpaid news shifts for them in return for free, any-time use of their off-air studio. The plan was, and still is, for those unpaid shifts to be covered by the podcast, but – as it stands – there is yet to be the money in the coffers that I can compensate the unpaid work I’ve done.
Just as we had got settled into that new rhythm – and it worked very well throughout the 2017-18 record breaking campaign – there was a new spanner in the works. Sam, who had begun working for Oldham Athletic in their press department, was leaving Imagine FM permanently, and was also losing access to that studio.
“When myself and David changed jobs, it became a fine balancing act that relied so much on our existing relationships and our money,” Sam said. “As time went on, those relationships weren’t always enough to get the studio time we required, and we relied so much more on the Patreon funding, which early on was spread very thinly.
“It had a massive impact for our guests as well, asking people to travel from one end of Greater Manchester to the other to take up an evening of their own time to record a podcast is a big ask. Not every multi-award nominated podcast has the backing of a giant media conglomerate!”
In the end, we were able to negotiate a good rate to use a facility at Media City, with a company called Audio Always – though it meant, once more, I had to hold off on compensating the unpaid work I was doing at Revolution as the budget got stretched.
Two Becomes One
Breaking up our working relationship in 2016 meant it was difficult for me and Sam to continue as we had been doing. When we had been sharing an office at Imagine FM, it was easy for us to talk about what we had planned or discuss each show’s running order ahead of the recording – but, as soon as I left that environment, that chatter went away. We’d still discuss plans, but it always felt a little less effective over text or over the phone, especially leaving voicemails and chatting on-the-move.
As soon as Sam began to work for Oldham, it often meant that he wasn’t as engrossed in City news as he had been previously. Early on after his move, it always seemed like Latics were playing at the same time as Guardiola’s side – and Sam ended up having to catch up with matches later. It soon fell to me to produce his shows as well as my own, meaning there was nothing he’d miss when he got himself up to speed.
It was always going to be a matter of time until someone like Sam was snapped up for a bigger and better role, and earlier this season – the podcast’s 10th and Sam’s seventh – he took up a new job, which took him away from Manchester. It meant he could no longer host the show, though the irony was that he’d now be watching a lot more of City than he’d been able to in the previous two years.
“I haven’t left, I’m just lying dormant,” he joked when I asked him how hard it was to leave. “I still tell people I do a bit here and there, which really is a massive lie. Moving on to a new opportunity unfortunately made recording a show in Manchester difficult - not impossible, we just haven’t made our schedules work, yet.
“That said, I believe there is a huge potential in producing a show every now and then in London and it is an idea that myself and David have talked about. After all, hearing the views of different people is what the show is about, and some of the other top football folk are based in the capital as well as those based in Manchester, so watch this space.”
Suffice to say, I’m delighted that Sam’s still planning to play a part in future shows.
MORE NEAR MISSES: Shortly before Sam Roscoe departed, he and David Mooney headed back to the FSF Awards for a third successive year - only to miss out on the top prize again.
A Decade of the Blue Moon Podcast
Perhaps one of the biggest problems the podcast has is that it doesn’t sound like it has very little money behind it. There is a string of ex-players, managers and staff that we’ve managed to interview, with some very high-profile guests – like Sven Goran Eriksson, Garry Cook, or David Bernstein – as well as high production values and good quality audio. It means it can be difficult to secure backers, because ultimately what needs paying for the most is the time that goes into each episode.
The panel, understandably, rarely say it of themselves, but they are all excellent at discussing City and analysing the week’s news. “I never thought I’d get on it so when I was first asked I was really pleased,” Goal.com’s Sam Lee said. “When I started covering City, I had to start from the ground up as far as reputation was concerned and given the show already had so many established and popular guests I thought I would struggle, so it was a bit of a milestone to get invited on for the first time.
“I think the show is really professional. You can tell a lot of care and attention goes into it when you’re a guest and can see how it’s made, but obviously as a listener as well because it sounds so polished.”
Richard added: “I think it's a great show, I really do. The quality and range of guests has improved hugely over the years. I am proud to be a small part of a show that gives a voice to City fans everywhere and where the hosts allow the whole spectrum of opinion to be heard.”
Paul Atherton said: “It's changed a lot since the early days. It's now more professional than it was when we started, with a lot more contributors, and it's completely evolved into more than just a few fans talking about City. It draws in bigger names, too - with some great guests that have appeared on the show.”
MEDIA TEAM: David Mooney and Sam Lee take on the City staff team in an end-of-season charity friendly.
MEDIA TEAM: David Mooney and Jonathan Smith, who scored the goal of the day for the Media Team, in the end-of-season charity match in 2019.
INTERVIEWEE: David Mooney speaks to BBC Breakfast ahead of the final day of the 2018-19 season.
Rob Pollard thought the core is the same as it’s always been: “I don't think the show has changed in terms of its aim or goal of creating fan-led content for the fans, but that also has genuine journalistic integrity. I think that's a really hard balancing act and I think the Blue Moon Podcast probably does it better than any other podcast.
“I just think the way it's changed is that it's just become slicker, a better production, and more confident in its voice, getting on journalists from the field and a good mix of fans. I think it's just grown in confidence and stature and I think you can hear that in the final product.”
Sometimes it’s not easy to get into the mood to do a show, especially when City have disappointed on the pitch. Howard explained: “The most challenging thing, apart from technical difficulties, is doing a podcast after a terrible result. You don't really want to rake over the performance, and most people probably don't want to listen. But then us City fans get a certain thrill out of being crap, and it can often turn out to be cathartic.”
There’s always time for some fun, though. “I guess I can laugh now, but our excitement at being nominated for an award at a ceremony in London, then the London traffic ensuring we missed most of the event, definitely springs to mind,” Howard continues. “We didn't win, but the beer went down easily.
“Doing the podcast generally is a laugh, especially writing more left-field pieces,” he added. “If I can make myself laugh, I know it's good, and my piece on a post-apocalyptic future world after Liverpool win the league is one of my favourites.”
While, Sam Lee explained how there’s a little bit of competitiveness over who can win the charity bet. He still holds the record for the biggest win, £350 at the end of the first season we were raising money for The Christie: “Getting the score prediction right for the last game of Guardiola’s first season was good. It was in the days when 5-0 wins weren’t as short odds as they are now, so that was a nice way to boost the charity pot.
“The most enjoyable bit is seeing the lads I'm on the show with. But the worst bit is definitely battling the M60 to get there.”
For Dan Burke, though, there is a symmetry to his time on the show. These days, having moved to Germany, his contributions come remotely through Skype: “It’s gone full circle really and I often feel like I’m back in that South American hostel again. I still get asked to come on via Skype from time to time and I’m always delighted to do it.
“I’ve made what I hope will be friends for life through this podcast and it’s helped me in so many ways in my career too. I can take or leave a lot of the football podcasts out there, but I never miss an episode of the Blue Moon Podcast.”