On 17 August 2019 Azeem Banatwalla and Neville Shah recorded the first episode of the 4-4-Two podcast at The Habitat. Banatwalla called it the stuff of his dreams. Of our dreams, even. And really, starting a football podcast is every armchair pundit’s secret desire. So, it isn’t surprising that three years of procrastination culminated in an admittedly ill-prepared, unnamed recording shot on Independence Day, 2019. 4-4-Two has moved from strength to strength ever since, and now celebrates its second anniversary.
Beginning as a weekly pre-recorded video, Shah and Banatwalla—who were later joined by Kautuk Srivastava—digitized the podcast, recording on zoom once the COVID-19 lockdowns were imposed. With a final transformation to the live streaming format, 4-4-Two has become a show that really captures the essence of sport fandom.
“We started at TCC. And then moved to zoom. But in reality, live streams seem more fun. Maybe because the virtue of sports is live. So, when you talk about the sport, you want it to be live”, the 4-4-Two team told DeadAnt. Over the course of these 2 years, the comics have added live shows, FIFA gaming live streams and match watch-alongs to their repertoire, having covered many of the nail-biting games from the EURO 2020 together.
The podcast has nurtured a dedicated following which even goes ahead and provides time-stamps for fellow viewers to skip the non-football-related parts, fondly called kachra (trash) by the comedians and their subscribers. Initially covering just the Premier League, 4-4-Two has also begun to cater to a much wider fan base of football fans.
“The Premier League is something we followed every week,” they added. “But now, it’s a lot of leagues. A lot of teams. We’ve got in-jokes about teams. And fans of Prison Leopards (A Zambian football team). We’ve got a research team that does help us.”
Over time, 4-4-Two has featured a long list of comedians as guests, including Anirban Dasgupta, Aravind SA, Joel D’Souza, Abijit Ganguly, Rohan Joshi, Rahul Subramanian, and Kumar Varun. The podcast has even attracted some big names in the football and football-content creating community. They’ve hosted Indian National Football Team member Anirudh Thapa, former Borussia Dortmund player Patrick Owomoyela, Manchester United superfan Mark Goldbridge and even Premier League presenter Nubaid Haroon.
“Things have gone according to plan,” said the team. “We’ve had great guests. We have had great streams. We’ve got a really nice community of fans. And honestly, that part is very gratifying. We need to do a lot more with and for Indian football though. Working on that.”
4-4-Two has brought its viewers endless banter and laughs since they began in late 2019. And two years in, the excitement to keep making the podcast remains the same. In fact, the 4-4-Two team perfectly summed up every football fan’s latent football podcasting dream when asked what their future plans with the podcast were. They said, “there definitely are [new plans]. But none we can name yet. Looks better when we announce on a thumbnail.”