Thanks for the memories but it's goodbye......for now

Black BTS Logo.png

Between the Stripes was set up as a simple blogspot website in January 2016 with subsequent Facebook and Twitter accounts designed to act as an unofficial news outlet for Longford Town FC, who at the time were almost non existent in terms of an online presence. The response was instant with the site and social pages averaging hits that were three times the clubs home gate. As a result, there was a feeling we had overachieved and the only way figures could go from here was down, that led to the decision to extend Between the Stripes coverage league wide.

Our next big step was launching a new up to date website (which you are currently reading) but in truth it was the launch of our weekly podcast, Between the Stripes LOI podcast that catapulted the “BTS” brand into wider League of Ireland circles.

Founded in June 2017, just as the League of Ireland clubs European campaigns were getting underway, the reaction to the show, which was hosted by myself and Jon Brier, was superb. While it took quite a few shows to nail the sound quality and format, once we did it was clear the show was going to be a massive success and that proved to be the case as myself and Jon proved the doubters wrong.

Releasing the podcast onto Itunes, Spotify and other mainstream providers a few months after our debut was the turning point as our show soon began to topple some of the more established names we were competing against, charting as high as 5th on the Itunes charts on two separate occasions.

This year alone, Between the Stripes launched an online TV channel as well as live match commentary and as a result it’s fair to say we were one of the most digitally diverse League of Ireland media outlets with a website, online TV outlet, weekly podcast, live match commentary service and social media platforms.

The experience gained from running such an enterprise has been phenomenal and was a driving force in my recent breakthrough into the world of sports media and broadcasting. Aside from that, the memories created and the contacts forged around the league (many of whom I know call close friends) has been the most amazing experience of my life.

I can not pen this statement without thanking quite a few people. To my co-host Jon Brier, the podcast simply wouldn’t have succeeded without your infectious personality, top class enthusiasm and genuine brilliance as a co-host, who I can safely call a best mate today. To our sponsors, St.Mel’s Brewing and Diaga.ie, thank you for showing faith in a start up project and throwing your weight behind us while FloMax.ie and in particular Michael O’Reilly, I can not speak highly enough of your company or Michael as a person. The unbelievable levels of support shown both in terms of backing the “BTS” dream and in terms of personal guidance and friendship were simply incredible and it’s fair to say we could never have achieved such levels of success without the support of Michael and the good folks at FloMax.ie.

Finally, to our listeners, viewers, readers, social media followers and anyone who ever interacted with Between the Stripes on any of our platforms, it was the greatest honor to build up such a strong support base in what is undoubtedly the greatest league in the world with the greatest supporters. Again, I’m glad to say I’ve got to meet some of you personally and I hope I will get to chat LOI with many more of you over a pint or a cup of tea at LOI grounds up and down the land.

It’s disappointing that the end of Between the Stripes has come about at a time when we were experiencing our strongest period of growth with record numbers of you tuning in to our podcast on a weekly basis (almost every show this season had over 1000 listeners, which is some rise from an average of around 300-400 when we started out 18 months ago and is an average increase of around 200 on last season, incredible stuff really!) while our TV station was just taking off as was our extremely popular online commentary service, which other outlets have since started to offer in what is great news for LOI followers.

With such impressive levels of growth this season, there was in fact an offer on the table from a wonderful investor for myself to turn “BTS” into more than just a hobby, although it would be unfair to describe the amount of work and hours gone into this project as a “hobby”, even if I was providing this service at the same time as working in a physically draining full-time day job. Perhaps such an opportunity will arise again one day and some people may feel I’m being silly turning down such a wonderful opportunity.

However, one of the reasons behind setting up Between the Stripes was to gain enough experience and build a portfolio of work to make a breakthrough in the world of sports media and broadcasting, something I recently achieved by securing a dream full-time job with one of Ireland’s leading bookmakers as a studio broadcaster and social media manager. You’ll remember at the start of this statement I mentioned my beloved Longford Town FC’s lack of online presence, that was something I also wanted to change and anyone who follows “De Town” online certainly can’t accuse the club of that anymore with James Donnelly doing absolutely Trojan work in recent years to raise the clubs profile and it’s been an absolute honor to play a very minor role in assisting James in that regard.

I’ve achieved everything I possibly can at this moment in time with Between the Stripes and although I had hoped to keep the brand alive in some capacity after taking up my new role and making the move to Dundalk, it has become clear in recent weeks that it simply won’t be possible, but that’s ok because I’m one of those very rare people you will now meet that can genuinely say “I love my job.”

My focus is now on putting as much energy as I put into Between the Stripes into my new role and helping my new employer grow. Again, I look forward to meeting fans of “BTS” over the coming weeks and months up and down the land following my beloved “LTFC”, something I can now do without having to worry about post-match interviews and carrying equipment around, not that it was a burden, it was bloody wonderful but for now it’s over and out from Between the Stripes………We will be back!

Yours in sport,

Kieran Burke,

Founder of Between the Stripes.

Kieran BurkeComment