When you consider the contribution black footballers have made to the game we all love, it’s no surprise that some of the best football content out there is being created and led by the Black community. For Black History Month, I wanted to share a selection of podcasts, publications and films that cover all things football but also celebrate black excellence and culture both on and off the pitch and how it contributes so positively to the fabric of society.
Narrowing it down to five was hard, but here we go:
Wrighty’s House (weekly podcast, released every Wednesday)
Only one place to start, and that’s Wrighty’s House. Hosted by footballer-turned-pundit-turned-national-treasure Ian Wright, Wrighty invites the listener into his ‘house’ to share in the conversation with a mix of regular contributors including Musa Okwonga, Jeanette Kwayke, Carl Anka, Mayowa Quadri, Flo Lloyd-Hughes, and Ryan Hunn – who co-produces with Roscoe Bowman.
The basic premise is that the team discuss the week in women’s and men’s football – but the reality is, it’s much more than that. It’s a place to listen to friendly, warm, insightful, and often very funny conversations that broadly revolve around football but that go much deeper, exploring the ways in which football and the stories from the week intersect and overlap with race, popular culture and society in general. Combined with a sprinkling of Ian’s first-hand stories and experiences from his time as a pro (as well as his love for the Marvel franchise and film in general!), it’s a perfect way to start your Wednesday. Don’t forget the flowers.
CARICOM (magazine and online community)
Next up is CARICOM Magazine. Having just released its second issue, the publication describes itself as springing from ‘a need to see football and fan culture examined through the underexplored lens of the Black experience in Great Britain and beyond.’
As a result, CARICOM explores the ways in which contemporary social attitudes, history, race and football intersect and overlap. Its second issue features an interview with former Chelsea (and now Hertha Berlin) striker Salomon Kalou, looks into the greatest Caribbean players to play in the Premier League, and wrestles with far larger and more complex questions related to idealism, allyship and multiculturalism. The latest also includes a supplementary pamphlet which is a guide to Black male mental health, helping readers to develop emotional literacy in this space, further demonstrating their social purpose and commitment to supporting the community via the platform of football.CARI
Standing Firm: Football’s Windrush Story (film created by Benjamin Zephaniah)
Originally released on BT Sport and now available to watch online, this is essential watching for anyone who wants to understand the history and contribution black footballers have made not just to the game, but to society at large in the UK and the disgraceful abuse they have suffered in return.
Created and anchored by Benjamin Zephaniah, it’s a history lesson that explores the Black experience since the Windrush docked at Tilbury in June 1948. Zephaniah’s focus is on the Caribbean impact on British society in general and football in particular, going back to his own experiences of growing up in Birmingham as an Aston Villa fan and the role supporting his club played as a respite from English racism. He covers off how he found it hard to support the England team with the symbolism of the same flags being waved at games that were waved by the National Front racists and the rhetoric that followed – but all that changed this summer when for the first time ever, he felt the England men’s team and its players truly represented him and his community. His conversation with Hope Powell alone is worth tuning in for. A must watch.
Goaldiggers UK (weekly podcast, released every Monday)
England’s first black female-led football podcast, Goaldiggers FC, has been running since early 2019 and has now amassed over 55 episodes. The pod runs every week and is published on a Monday, a good way of getting a roundup from the weekend as the team do a very comprehensive review of the weekend’s action, covering off mostly the action from the Premier League and sometimes delving into big European moments.
The team go into depth about matters on the pitch but also cover important subjects off it – with episode ‘Misguided Optimism’ going into detail on Black Lives Matter from a football perspective and the need for better representation at all levels of the game. Occupying a unique spot as one of few Black female-led podcasts in football, it’s great to see Black women represented in a space that is often dominated by white men.
Ian Wright: Nothing to Something (ITV documentary)
We’ve started with Wrighty, and we’re also going to finish with him. Ian’s body of work – whether it be films, podcasts, stories, books (and not to mention everything that came from his football career) made it hard to pick one final recommendation, but ‘Nothing to Something’, a documentary which went under the radar when it was first aired on ITV4 in 2012, is a beautiful, emotion-filled 20-minute piece which you simply must watch.
The film’s simplicity – Ian talking to camera, shot in black and white with a small selection of archive footage throughout – allows the incredible story of this absolute icon and trailblazer to do the talking. Intentionally haven’t gone into detail as you really should just watch it. You won’t be disappointed.