⚽ Why does the North produce so many England internationals?

And The Steamie looks at the rise of the Alba party in Scotland 🗳️

If football is the beautiful game, what does it mean for politics?

Both are in arenas with supporters and opposition, one vying for their team whilst the other jeers at their opponents. Both sides desperate and hungry for a win, and a defeat can be crushing, potentially costing careers.

Football may be the beautiful game; and politics may be the ugly one.

And in this week’s Laudable Podcasts newsletter, we will be taking a closer look at the beautiful and ugly games.

The North in Numbers asks why the North produces so many England internationals, with the region being called “the Santa Claus of football”.

And our Scottish political podcast, The Steamie, explores the rise of the new political party, Alba, in the Scottish elections. They speak to candidate Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh. (Don’t forget to listen to previous interviews with candidates from other parties.)

⚽ The North in Numbers: why is the North on the ball with England football stars? 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

If you are a football fan, you may recognise some of the faces in the picture above.

There’s Steven Gerrard, former Liverpool and England captain, who represented his country 114 times.

And current international and Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford, who has been a stellar performer on and off the pitch. The 23-year-old has campaigned on issues such as homelessness and child hunger during lockdown.

Those of a certain age will remember Gazza’s tears in the 1990 World Cup. Paul Gascoigne is remembered for his performances for Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur, as well on the international stage.

And there is ex-United and Everton player Wayne Rooney, who is both England’s most-capped outfield player of all-time and his country’s leading goalscorer.

They all have two things in common: they placed for the Three Lions, and their football careers began in the North.

The new episode of The North in Numbers - the podcast that looks at the human stories behind the stats - asks why is the North on the ball when it comes to producing England internationals?

John Gibson, who has been covering football in the North East for over 50 years, tells the podcast that the North is “the Santa Claus of football”.

Speaking to guest host David Dubas-Fisher, the journalist and author said:

“It is a working class sport and this is a working class area. And we produce the dreams for kids. That's what football does for kids.

"We are the Santa Claus of football up here. We give the rest of football everything worth having."

You can hear more from John Gibson, and the other fantastic guests on The North in Numbers, by listening to the full episode wherever you get your podcasts.

Listen to The North in Numbers on Apple

🗳️ The Steamie: Alba rising? 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

The Steamie is the podcast that guides you through the changing landscape of Scottish politics - offering you unrivalled insight and explanations of the political issues of the day.

With results coming in from the Scottish elections, you can listen back to what the candidates from the major political parties have said on the campaign trail.

In the latest episode of the Steamie, hosts Conor Matchett and Gina Davidson speak to Alba candidate Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh.

A former Scottish National Party MP, she speaks about what Alba hopes to achieve in this election and answers questions on Russia and Alex Salmond's behaviour.

Co-host Gina Davidson commented on the series so far:

"The Steamie has been a great innovation for The Scotsman political team, and has proved a real highlight of our election coverage.

“It's also been a lot of fun, and the politicians who have been our guests have enjoyed the more laid-back vibe of the podcast, compared to the usual grilling!"

Conor added:

"It has been a pleasure to present alongside Gina and the podcast has offered another opportunity for our listeners to hear from their political leaders before the election.

"I hope it has offered a different perspective on the Scottish Parliamentary election and that listeners stick with us after the results are announced this weekend."

Listen to The Steamie on Apple Podcasts

Whether you are glued to your television, dissecting and awaiting the election results, or shouting at the box at your football side this weekend, we hope that our podcasts have added another dimension to the beautiful and ugly games.

In the meantime, stay safe, stay positive, stay informed, and stay tuned.

- Dan McLaughlin 🎙️ 👓

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