Between The Lines with Melissa Reddy is podcast production company Stakhanov’s latest endeavour in the football podcasting world. Launched in September of this year and hosted by expert football journalist Melissa Reddy, Between the Lines talks to the biggest names in football and discusses the subjects most interesting to fans – including the behind the scenes insight that underpins everything across the top of the game. From Premier League managers attempting to coach their team while dealing with personal tragedy, to the thorny subject of online abuse and trolls, listeners learn something new in every episode.
In the past month, the topic of football and head trauma took the UK news cycle by storm. This week, Melissa released an episode speaking to Neuropathologist Willie Stewart, experts on head injuries within the sport, and ex Hull City player Ryan Mason, whose career was cut short due to a near-fatal head injury. But, as she explored on Between The Lines, the game has long been aware of the research on the long-term effects of such trauma and the solutions to minimise its risk. It has chosen to press on with shoddy protocols and the only update it has offered – the trial of a permanent concussion – is unhelpful and a distance behind other sports. In tandem with other guests, the pair spotlight why head trauma can be a matter of life or death and how football can help make the game safer for players. I spoke to Melissa a bit about Between The Lines itself and the importance of the continued discussion surrounding head trauma in football.
Who are you and what’s your podcast about?
I’m Melissa Reddy, the senior football correspondent for The Independent, author of Believe Us: How Jürgen Klopp transformed Liverpool into title winners, and an analyst on Premier League Productions, BBC and Sky Sports. When I was approached to do a podcast, I agreed on the basis that my show could be meaningful and explore topics that may often get ignored. That is what Between The Lines does and even when we speak to high-profile names like Mauricio Pochettino and Gary Lineker, the conversation is not about standout games but more human elements like mental strain and dealing with intense criticism. I’m so proud of the discussion episodes we’ve done on social media abuse, policing in football and the game’s shame when it comes to head trauma. These are all such big issues to work through and they were incredibly well received.
There are so many interesting people within the world of football you could speak to, how do you choose your guests?
It’s important to me that my guests have deep stories to tell and will be open about sharing them. When it comes to the discussion episodes, my aim is to balance experts on the particular field with people who have personal experiences to share. I always want the listener to connect with the content and also gain an education from it.
Tell us about your upcoming episode. Why is it important?
Football is a far distance behind other sports in dealing with head trauma, despite changes that could save lives being so easy to implement. We’ve recently witnessed Raul Jimenez suffer a fractured skull after an aerial collision and Ryan Mason, who was forced to retire at 26 due to the same injury, shares his experience of the devastation it caused to both him and his family. Dr Willie Stewart, the neuropathologist who proved football’s link with dementia, spells out just how high the risk is for long-term brain diseases and offers ways in which the game can improve its protocols. It’s such a powerful, informative, emotional episode and one that I hope will force necessary changes.
Where can Pod Bible readers find out more about you and the show?
I’m on Twitter and Instagram and Between The Lines is available on all podcast platforms.
If you’re interested in football and football journalism, or want to listen to the episode discussed in this article, listen to Between The Lines with Melissa Reddy via Spotify, Acast, or Apple Podcasts.
Blandine Hoge is a Podcast Production Assistant at Stakhanov and lives in London.
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