Why Tranmere, the ATTTMPod and my personal work looks strong heading into 2022.
Matt Jones is the co-presenter of a great Tranmere podcast in the shape of the ‘A Trip To The Moon’, a podcast that has very recently brought the very interesting cases of those such as Connor Jennings and Ray Matthias to light.
Ahead of the upcoming calendar year I spoke to Matt about the form that Tranmere find themselves in going into the second half of the season, the interviewees that we are yet to hear the stories of and how great it now is to be busy having found more freelance media work following on from the Covid pandemic difficulties.
Those who enjoy his work have a lot to look forward to in 2022.
How would you describe the success of the podcast throughout the calendar year of 2021? Do you believe that, if there were any, the aims to be met at the start of the calendar year were?
I would definitely say it’s been a success over the course of the year as we doubled the amount of subscribers that we initially had. We’ve also had some great interviews on there, some really good exclusives and people have been really keen to come on.
I’m not sure what aims we necessarily had to meet but in terms of success? Yeah, I’m absolutely delighted with how it has gone and hopefully we can keep finding people who want to come on and be interviewed.
Would you say that there were particular moments throughout the year were people were subscribing or would you describe the success in terms of viewers as steady?
There are certain interviews that we know will make people sign up if they happen. For example, we had Micky Mellon on just before the Christmas period of 2020. I knew Micky from my days at the Liverpool Echo and Radio City, he was happy to come on.
What’s surprised me slightly is that it’s often the more recent faces that build traction, an example being when James Vaughan spoke of his best eleven. However, every single podcast has been well received.
To tell you a little bit about how we work, we try to have a different era spoken about each week. For example, we wouldn’t put out a podcast with a promotion winner from the most recent play-off successes as it would just be the same stories, relatively, spoken about. It’s nice to have a bit of variety and meet different people’s needs.
We spoke a little bit about Micky Mellon before, touching on the podcast that he did with yourself. How would you describe his re-introduction at the club and do you believe we’re heading into the new year with a bit of positivity after a mixed 2021?
I believe we’re at a much better position now than at this point last year. Although you’d look at our league position then and think we were in a great place to mount a promotion push, you always feared that it’d fall by the wayside a little bit because of many factors including having to play the games behind closed doors. We’ve seen this season how great the fan impact can have at Tranmere and this is something that Micky speaks about quite a bit in his meetings with the press.
Ultimately, the goal in 2021 was to go up thus the season was a failure. However, another great disadvantage to our promotion push was the long-term injury of James Vaughan and any team losing his calibre of quality would struggle to meet their goals.
Touching on Mellon’s return, it’s been slightly mixed at times results wise. It’s hard to say whether his players have been putting more effort in than Keith Hill’s were, as many have left. However, you always know what you’re going to get from a Mellon side and I’d say that this team is pretty much a mirror of the 2018/19 team without having a goalscorer as prolific as James Norwood. It’s the same style of football, grinding out results, wearing your heart on your sleeve etc so the re-introduction has been, as things stand, a success.
Another thing that is giving a lot of people faith going forwards is that we’re now in the January transfer window and as we’ve seen in 2018, 2019 and 2020 we always tend to improve from that point on. It’ll be interesting to see how we do this time round but I don’t think the league is as good as it has been in the recent past.
Touching back on the podcast, who would you say provided the best listens throughout the course of last year? Personally, I really enjoyed the Connor Jennings one.
Loads were great for various reasons.
The Otis Khan one was great. However, that gained a lot of negativity from Walsall supporters who misconstrued what was said. Graham Branch was really open and honest, you don’t often find interviewees answering questions with the level of truth he gave. There was a great St Yates Day special, 20 years on from beating Everton at Goodison Park, Andy Parkinson came on to that and so did an Everton fan! Steve Davies, Alan Navaro and Ash Taylor – another great three.
I was surprised with Taylor’s podcast, I thought I had an image of what he would be like but he was a real down to earth guy. The story that was painted about his exit was a complete fabrication of what had actually happened.
There was so much that we did, but none of this could happen without the individual willing to come on to the podcast and being open and honest about their stories.
Would you say that the podcast has helped you slightly as a journalist?
As I’ve done hundreds and thousands of interviews in the past I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily helped me improve on my skills in too many ways. However, to use a footballing cliche it’s certainly kept me match fit as I’d stopped interviewing after I left Radio City – I’d be interviewing six or seven people a day when I was presenting my show!
For 2022, would you say there are any working ambitions for yourself or for the podcast?
I don’t know if we’ve set any goals for the podcast. However, it’d be nice to get over the 300 subscriptions mark. The interviews tend to get viewed by those who aren’t subscribers though. For example, we had 16,000 listening to the podcast we did with Otis Khan.
In terms of future podcasts, ones that have been done but not yet released, Eugene Dadi and Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro. Also, there is a very large list of people who we are working slowly through to come onto the podcast throughout the course of the year.
My work away from the podcast though, a lot has changed since I last spoke to you. I have started working with IMG who have rights for the EFL thus I’ve commentated on a few match highlight videos. I’ve worked with Talksport, I commentate on some games for BBC Local Radio and I commentate for the Burnley Women’s team. It’s a lot nicer to be busy than not. I hope I can work on that, keep that going because I enjoy that and I hope others do too.
Can we touch on the work you do for TalkSport? What are your responsibilities for them and how did you get your foot in the door there?
I freelance for numerous companies. Talksport comes to me a few times a month and asks me to cover a few games for them. I provide reports into the show on what is going on in the game, goals and cards etc wise.
Freelance is good but definitely provided me with some difficulties throughout the pandemic.
Placing our focus back on Tranmere, with the January transfer window now open. Who would you like to be brought in and would you say there are positions that you’d like to be strengthened?
After the injury to Nicky Maynard and presuming Ste Walker is going back to Middlesbrough, I feel we need to strengthen our strikeforce. James Norwood will definitely not be coming back, considering his upturn in form at Ipswich but we could maybe do with one or two strikers.
Could one of those attacking players be youngster Josh McPacke? I’ve seen little bits of him, he’s been recalled from his loan spell at Morecambe which only strengthens the rumours but who knows when, or if, that will be confirmed. He’s clearly a talented player, you must have something about you to come through at Rangers so I’d never say no to someone who could offer that attacking quality to the team.
Defence wise? Maybe we could add a bit of depth but we’ve seen that Chris Maguire and Kyle Hayde can do a job there so I would probably say that’s not too much of a worry.