Support 100 years of independent journalism.

Life Goals is a joyous journey through our desert island kicks

On this podcast Theo Delaney, an ardent Spurs fan, deep-dives into his guests' relationship with football.

By Jason Cowley

I was a recent guest on the Life Goals podcast, on which football fans are invited to choose eight goals that mean something special to them or define moments of transition in their lives. You are also asked to select accompanying pieces of music for each goal. It’s a kind of sporting Desert Island Discs, presented by an ardent Spurs fan named Theo Delaney whose enthusiasm and generosity of character elevate the podcast into something special.

I’d never previously listened to Life Goals, but I understand it has a dedicated niche audience and I’ve since been delving into its archive to listen to fascinating conversations with notable sports writers such as Paul Hayward and Simon Kuper, political journalists such as Danny Finkelstein and Steve Richards, and celebrities such as Noel Gallagher and the TV presenter Kelly Cates.

Delaney takes his guests on a journey through their lives, and along the way he tries to discover how we first became interested in football and why we support the teams we do.

In his essay “Dear England”, published on the Players’ Tribune website in the run-up to last summer’s Euros, delayed by a year because of the pandemic, Gareth Southgate captured the essence – and indeed mystery – of fandom, perhaps as well as anyone I’ve read, when recalling his earliest experiences of watching the England national team. “You remember where you were watching England games. And who you were watching with. And who you were at the time.”

Delaney, like Southgate, understands that being a fan is about much more than sharing those moments of joy and disappointment that can unite not just friends and family but sometimes tens of thousands of strangers in a kind of collective rapture. Fandom is also about identity and belonging, about finding somewhere to belong. And it can help you understand better the person you are – or, at least, used to be. That is the trick and magic of the podcast. Never such innocence again, as Larkin wrote.

Life Goals
Apple Podcasts/Spotify

[See also: Patented: History of Inventions is perfect fact-of-the-day fodder]

Content from our partners
Harnessing breakthrough thinking
Are we there yet with electric cars? The EV story – with Wejo
Sherif Tawfik: The Middle East and Africa are ready to lead on the climate
Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Topics in this article :

This article appears in the 06 Apr 2022 issue of the New Statesman, Easter Special