Former Scotland and Rangers 'Braveheart' Colin Hendry leads the sporting names chatting to James McLeay for his Banffshire and Aberdeenshire podcast Beyond Canal Park which is keeping people entertained during Covid-19
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THE power of conversation is keeping people entertained during Covid-19, and Banffshire’s very own podcast is spreading the word further afield.
Macduff lad James McLeay started his Beyond Canal Park show last September, named after the former home of Deveronside juniors who he played for and still serves at committee level.
His first chat with Deveronside captain Colin Legge proved so popular that he has now clocked up more than 20 podcasts and reached a total audience of more than 10,000 listeners.
And McLeay, a Tartan Army foot soldier who follows Scotland’s international team home and away, even landed the dream ticket of interviewing one of his heroes earlier this year.
For former Scotland captain Colin Hendry, who won an English Premier League title with Blackburn and a Scottish domestic treble with Rangers, was back in his home town of Keith and was introduced to McLeay through mutual pal and former Vale player Darren McAllister.
“Speaking to Colin was great for me, one of my heroes,” he said. “We just sat in the pub in Keith and recorded it over a few beers.
“The whole thing’s been unbelievable really. I started it for a laugh really, just to shine a light on local folk in this area thinking I might get 15, 20 folkfrom Deveronside who would listen. Now we’ve had over 10,000.”
McLeay himself played in goal for Deveronside, including their winning play-off match which took them back into the north junior Superleague two years ago. His younger brother John is player-manager at the club, who now play at Myrus in their home town of Macduff.
James even interviewed John for the podcast when the brothers were on a Tartan Army trip in Cyprus for Scotland’s European qualifier last November.
He has chatted with past and present Deveronside and Deveronvale players, and Banffshire boys who have moved on to better things in the football world.
“I’ve reconnected with some folk who I knew from school who have gone on to do good things in football. Guys like Stuart Anderson who was down at Southampton, and Steven Watt who played for Chelsea under Mourinho – for a boy from Gamrie that’s amazing.
“We had a laugh on the podcast saying that he’s still Gamrie’s only Premier League player even though he only got two minutes in the Premier League – it’s two minutes more than most of us can boast.”
Current Vale manager Steve Dolan and his assistant Craig Stewart, as well as ex-PRP stars such as John Scott and Mark Chisholm have featured, while the theme of the show has strayed away into other sports and even local politics.
Last year, McLeay interviewed fellow Macduff boy and professional boxer Billy Stuart, while more recently local councillor John Cox was a special guest. This week’s show features ex-Vale skipper Steven Rattray, while future efforts will include a “blether” with Portsoy lad and former Aberdeen player Kevin Souter – who once played against David Beckham in the MLS in America.
“There’s a lot of local guys with stories to tell and some don’t have a place to tell them, so it’s been good to speak to them,” said James.
He promotes his home area as well as local businesses on his podcast, encouraging his guests to give a plug to any sponsors who have helped them on their sporting journey.
"I am a big supporter of shopping local and supporting local groups and people and thought it was a good way of having a laugh and sitting speaking about fitba, which is my favourite topic.
"If you take away playing football when you’re young, it would have been my dream job to be a sports broadcaster. But it never worked out that way and I went down a different path into teaching.
"Personally I just love hearing the stories and having some craic, mostly about football. It was like reliving a dream of mine."
Many of McLeay's interviews take place in his house in Ladysbridge, and he has his wife Nicola to thank for her patience in having to put up with all the sporting chat in their home.
"I have to give thanks to Nicola who has to put up with strange men coming to the house almost every week, often staying for three or four hours.
"I’m grateful she’s supportive of it and she’s probably my biggest fan and loves listening to them - even though she hates fitba!"
Beyond Canal Park is available on all major online podcast platforms including Apple and Spotify.
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