“Joining Sempre” by Frank Sidekick

“Our doubts are traitors,

And make us lose the good we oft might win,

By fearing to attempt.”

Measure for Measure. William Shakespeare

It’s the 93rd minute. You’re nearly at the end of a lung busting game which is only your fourth start of the season. You’ve never scored a league goal before. An entire city desperately wants a goal. Demands a goal. Juventus have pulled ahead, again. Maybe the whole world is against you? The ball falls at your feet, one touch and then a split second to do something. Pass it? Shoot? The moment demands action. Why doubt? Do.

Diawara’s courage to be his best in public has been my inspiration this week which ended with me being added to the Sempre! podcasting team. The timing of this moment was perfect since, mid-game I received a DM on Twitter from James McGhie:-

“Frank, probably a long shot mate, but do you happen to have a mic for your computer and a set of headphones?”

What do I do? I’ve never met James, Raffa or Ken but have been writing stuff on here for a while and contributing to the online community that they have created. I have a nasal posh voice and am about as Neapolitan as a pint of warm flat beer and a discarded packet of fish and chips. The chances of me looking and sounding sfastriuso are coming in at around 1/1 in my mental bookmaker. But…

The moment demands action. Why doubt? Do.

I love this team and, as I’ve written here before, I am a fan despite not having a blood-tie to the city and the country.

I respond to James:

“I’ve got them and am up for it!”

So here we go. Recording takes place a day after the game. Quite a game and quite a moment in the season. So much to talk about. James is incredibly helpful and welcoming and talks me through the process. The team record themselves via a website and, before the pod starts recording, show notes are sent around which cover the talking points.

This arrives a few hours beforehand. Ken isn’t around. A shame since he gave me my break on this website. Big shoes to fill! However, the notes are well presented and also feature stats from the game and the season run-in. A really professional set-up which makes me slotting in much more achievable.

Then the hour comes, I log in and James’ voice greets me. Very odd to hear from someone who you have been listening to for a couple of years. But… we have a great thing in common – Napoli and calcio. Plenty to chat and gossip about and we wait (a wee while) for Raffa to log in. Then Raffa’s voice arrives. This shit just got real! (I may or may not have poured myself a small Islay whisky to see me through…)

There’s not much build up and it’s recorded live. ‘Benvenuto and ciao ragazzi. Welcome to…’ I’ve heard those words before but this time I’m on the inside. We’re off.

It’s a bit of a blur to be honest but the shared ground and passion for the team sees me through. In some ways being a fan of the show is perfect prep and James and Raffa are great at giving me some space to talk. Recording finishes and I say to the guys, ‘I need a lie down and (another) whisky!’

Hearing it back the next day was a proud a moment and despite my plummy nonsense it was great to have my love of the team documented for immortality! Then I receive a text from James inviting me to join the team. As Norwich’s most famous fictional resident once said: ‘Back of the net!’

Perhaps my personal journey of doubt over those 24 hours is a perfect microcosm for our season. I banished my doubts and put my neck on the line. The result? I can now podcast about Napoli and calcio, fulfilling a long standing ambition. Perhaps there’s time yet for me to be the next James Richardson. The idealistic seven year old in me would be proud, I think!

Grazie mille to i ragazzi for the invitation to join them. Here’s to me and Napoli banishing the traitors that are the mental doubts which can creep in.

Forza Napoli Sempre!

By Frank Sidekick

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