“I just saw the stream of text messages — “two rows left…one row left…one seat,” says Paul McNicoll, co-host of the Dode Fox Podcast along with Ronny Costello.
“Ronny was watching the tickets go in real time, like it was Soccer Saturday!”
That is how long it took for the Dundee United podcast to sell-out the 369-capacity Gardyne Theatre for this Friday’s live show, with Paul Dixon, Danny Swanson and former Tannadice boss Craig Levein joining the duo on stage.
This is the third time the pair have performed in front of an audience, with previous guests including Peter Houston, Sean Dillon and Craig Conway.
Despite the success of those endeavours, there is still a sense of shock at the appetite of their Arab army of loyal listeners.
“The strangest thing for me was when I heard people were queuing at the Box Office,” adds Costello.
“What’s that about? To have people queuing for tickets is mad — but for some folk to actually not get them is crazy.”
Indeed, McNicoll confesses to a gnawing sense of guilt that some fans were left disappointed due to the unforeseen pace of demand.
But Costello adds: “Mind you, there might be empty seats on the night — folk who were gutted about getting a ticket to see us dafties as a Christmas present!”
Box Office Levein
Admirable humility — but that would seem unlikely, particularly given the booking of Levein.
Since stepping back from front-line management, the former Scotland boss has become an increasingly entertaining, insightful pundit and speaker.
“It’s not Ronny and I who are selling tickets for the Gardyne Theatre,” adds McNicoll. “It’s Craig Levein, Danny Swanson and Paul Dixon.
“If it was just us with no guests, then I’m definitely not convinced it would sell out.”
On the prospect of quizzing a giant of United’s recent history in Levein, Costello continues: “I’m hoping he knocks Paul out, if I’m honest!
“No, everyone knows there’s a serious side to Craig — but we’ve all seen the humorous side too, with his stuff on (BBC podcast) Sacked in the Morning and some of the stories he has.
“I can’t wait, because he was a man who came in when things were pretty grim and changed EVERYTHING at United.
“We’ve had so many incredible stories about him from guests on the podcast, so it’ll be class to hear a few from the man himself.
“He’s an intriguing, interesting guy.”
Definitely not famous
Since its inception 176 episodes ago, the Dode Fox Podcast has grown a passionate listenership — sharing in the hope, joy, despair and anger; depending on how the Tangerines fared in their previous outing.
Just last week, they raised more than £2,200 for the Dundee United Community Trust courtesy of Costello’s sponsored head shaving.
Over £2000 raised for @dundeeunitedct 👨🏻🦲👨🏻🦲
Thank you everyone who has donated, it really is appreciated 🧡🖤
— The Dode Fox Podcast (@dodefoxpodcast) January 9, 2023
“You do get people who want to stop you and talk about the podcast or United,” continues McNicoll.
“I’ve had people wanting photos, which is more embarrassing that anything else. Leo (his son) loves it.
“He says: “Aw dad, you’re famous.” I’ve told him I’m definitely NOT famous.”
Even if “fame” is overstating the matter, the podcast has become sufficiently high-profile to attract appearances from United owner Mark Ogren, sporting director Tony Asghar and former Tannadice bosses Robbie Neilson and Micky Mellon.
“Aye and Tam Courts didn’t come on and look what happened — he only lasted a year,” laughs Costello.
Tannadice icon David Narey tops a long list of dream guests including Duncan Ferguson and Billy McKinlay, while Benjamin Siegrist, now at Celtic, and Tangerines midfielder Declan Glass have both been on the show.
Although it may be advisable for current players to steer clear of the candid assessments after a defeat, it is inevitable that a few current players are listeners.
“I remember when we were a few episodes in, and I took Leo over to United training at St Andrews,” added McNicoll.
“Back then, before Covid, some of the players would come over and have a wee kick about with him — brilliant guys.
“I thanked Louis Appere (now at Northampton Town) for coming over and he says to me, “I recognise your voice…you’re from that podcast”. That was probably the first time I ever thought: maybe some of these guys listen!
“I would never want to throw anyone under the bus anyway, but it gives you a wee pause for thought in terms of being respectful and tactful.”
It seems inconceivable that there will not be future live shows — “we might have news on that on Friday,” smiles Costello — while the podcast will continue to document the triumphs and travails of the Tangerines.
“We’d be sitting around talking about United, anyway,” adds McNicoll. “The only difference it that we decided to record it and stick it out as a podcast. So the support we’ve had is really humbling.”