I can’t remember the first time I listened the Men In Blazers podcast. The show launched in 2011, but I do remember laughing out loud on my first listen and instantly forming a bond with co-hosts Roger Bennett and Michael Davies. Their show is a journey through the Premier League complete with humor, prose and endearing stories.
Co-host and Evertonian Roger Bennett (pictured above next to Ian Darke) was kind enough to be interviewed by EPL Talk this week. Here’s the interview:
The Gaffer (TG): How did you meet Michael Davies?
Roger Bennett (RB): After the 2006 World Cup. The tournament had ended as badly for me as it had done for Zidane. Before extra-time in the France-Italy final, I had been yanked away from the television by my wife, so we could go to a wedding of a friend, which took place on a boat along the East River.
I simmered for an eternity until I stumbled upon Davo’s terrific coverage of the tournament he had provided ESPN which culminated in his missing the final to go to the very same awfully timed nautical nuptials. The newly-married friend we shared in common quickly introduced us. Instead of meeting a stranger, it felt like I was reuniting with one of the gents I had grown up with. We sat and talked for nearly two hours blabbing, in the sub-optimal style that has become a staple of Men In Blazers.
Davo and I have had so many common experiences and influences. We both feel lucky to have benefitted from everything that is amazing about English childhood and then gone on to experience American adulthoods. We also have overlapping shared passions — from music and movies to Dana Plato and First World War poetry — and they are all somehow wrapped up in our love for soccer which we both find endlessly rewarding. A high culture/low culture experience, part balletic display of human perfection, part bawdy soap opera.
TG: How, when and where did the idea for Men In Blazers begin?
RB: As soon as we met, we knew we wanted to work together. We are both immensely passionate about football and extremely optimistic about its explosive potential for growth in the United States — our tag line is “Football: America’s Sport of the Future Since 1972.”
We felt a real mission to play a part in that growth by building a community of listeners eager to revel in the glory of the game — by broadcasting/writing/podding/making films about its heroes, villains, triumphs, failures, beauty and absurdities. The key to our relationship is that Davo and I both watch football in a similar way: It is a hyperlinked experience conjuring countless tangents and framing so many questions. Every 90 minutes of football we watch resurfaces echoes of the past, Slumdog Millionaire style. And we wanted to use it to build a North American community of football fans — both old and new — who were willing to talk about tactics, technique and gameplay one minute, Sir Ian Darke, Philip Larkin and Gingies the next.