A pair of self-described ‘middle-aged football tragics’ have been filming a daily World Cup show from a company boardroom to help bring the Russian buzz to the Hunter.
Jonathan Poynter, 50, and Tony Vidray, 54, both of whom work regular office jobs, have been changing out of their shirt and tie each day to step in front of the camera.
The duo have filmed every day there’s been games on and have netted a burgeoning following on social media.
“We were part of a CEO’s group that meets every month,” Poynter told Topics.
“For three years, all we talked about was football when we come together. So about nine months ago I said to Tony, ‘hey, here’s an idea… why don’t we take a month off [for the World Cup] and film a TV show?’.”
While a month off vegging out on the world’s biggest sports event might sound like a dream, the budding pundits realised that’s exactly what it was – out of reach.
“Neither of us have been able to take the time off, so we’re doing it as well as our normal jobs,” a bleary-eyed Poynter said before filming episode 21 last week.
“We’re having a ball, there’s an audience that’s growing pretty rapidly and if it doesn’t kill us in the next two weeks - we might do it again in four years’ time.”
Filmed in the boardroom of Mr Poynter’s business - Nimbler Digital - the show has had guests like Jets CEO Lawrie McKinna and KB United legend Phil Dando.
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The makeshift studio is lavished in football paraphernalia and the pair deck themselves out in gear provided by Kotara football supply shop Everything Football.
A series of quirky segments make up the 20-40 minute episodes, and after voluntarily plugging Murray's Craft Brewing Co in the first few shows, the lads secured a steady supply of beer for the rest of the tournament. River Roast Coffee have come on board too.
“The feedback we’re getting, a lot of people are saying ‘you guys are saying what we’re all thinking but the big commentators can’t say’. We’ll walk in and go, ‘something stank about that match last night’ … the big guys can’t say that, but we can.”
Asked how he was managing to juggle both running a business and hosting the show, Mr Poynter said he has had to prioritise his commitments. Midnight and 4am games this week haven’t helped.
“Individually we try and watch all the games, but seriously, at some point we need to get some sleep. If you seen episode 20, you’ll see that generally speaking neither of us are getting enough sleep.
“Work life is struggling, home life is struggling; my wife’s been really good, but if I’m still married at the end it will be a miracle.”
Mr Poynter said the duo’s favourite moment of the World Cup thus far was difficult to pick, but he was surprised at how well the host nation was going.
“The Spain-Portugal game was the best football I’ve ever seen, that was early on in the tournament,” he said.
“The other thing that stands out is how inexplicably well Russia is going.
“On paper and in practice, they could not beat the Maitland under-18s before this tournament.”
From the outset, the show never had a clear-cut direction.
The pair made most of it up as they went. But after nearly 25 episodes, does the show know what it is?
“We want to make it interesting for people who do love football but can’t watch every game,” Mr Poynter said.
“There’s a good chunk of our audience that are not what you’d call ‘football tragics’, but because of the humour and the fun in it they’re finding it really easy to take on.
“It’s larrikin with a dose of knowledge.”
You can check out the show on the Facebook page Putin Football First, on the You Tube channel or at putinfootballfirst.com.au