Highly-regarded football podcaster and content creator, HLTCO, has finally revealed his face and full identity. Better still, the reaction online has warmed our hearts.
Unveiling himself for the first time on a brand new YouTube channel under the same name, the extremely popular football fanatic, commentator, journalist and Crystal Palace fan brought the mystery surrounding his 12-year-long alias to an end with his first video.
For more than a decade, football Twitter and social media, in general, have known him as HLTCO (‘Hopkin Looking To Curl One’ — inspired by a famous goal by Palace’s David Hopkin in the 1997 play-off final) and while his name has been out there for a while now, most are only familiar with the acronym.
That was until this Monday when the man himself, Dan Cook, showed his face to his 114,200+ strong following for the first time in over a decade and while he admitted it was “genuinely scary putting [himself] out there”, he was embraced with open arms by his fans and social media at large.
As explained in his lengthy 15-minute piece to camera, the main reason that he waited so long to show himself on a public forum was that he suffers from cerebral palsy, stating: “there’s been a real push and pull and emotional turmoil that has gone alongside my perspective on myself”.
Confessing that he hasn’t always been completely reconciled with how he feels about being disabled, speaking out in this way and going public with what is clearly a very personal struggle was no small feat, so can only applaud him for his bravery.
For the longest time, Dan has defined himself as someone “obsessed with football” and geared virtually all aspects of his personal and professional life towards immersing himself in sport, which is part of the reason why so many people who shared his interests have towards HLTCO to begin with.
Upon seeing his latest update, his social media channels have been awash with touching messages from well-wishers and plenty reassuring him that he had never had anything to worry about when it came to simply being himself.
One person said, “You’ll inspire many others to get involved in things they love”, another labelled him a “hero who deserves all the love [he] is receiving”; a third explained how his content has touched them on an even more direct level:
“I can relate to this and you. I felt the same with my disability affecting parts of speech and my left side. Took me a while to have the guts to do YouTube videos. Keep smashing it”.
After having spoken and seen each other on an earlier podcast he alludes to in the video, sports journalist Laura Woods said that she had no idea that Dan had any kind of disability and, like most others aware of the account, simply followed him for his footballing opinions.
She later went on to take up a section of her talkSPORT breakfast show to discuss the reveal video, share her thoughts on his wonderful and insightful content, as well as how she got to know him through the industry and, fundamentally, separate from any knowledge of his condition.
It is a truly lovely watch that clearly hit home with the well-known Twitter personality who had always been wary of sympathy or special treatment and has gone on to make a name for himself through nothing other than hard work and great content.
As co-host Ally McCoist rightly points out during the segment, it seems unbelievable that people would abuse others diagnosed with cerebral palsy but as Woods points out, “it’s social media: everything happens on there, everything you can think of”.
With that in mind, Dan often worried his condition might limit and/or prevent him from feeling confident enough to “go down the path of working for a formal publication”, so he spawned the HLTCO brand which allowed him to talk about his beloved Crystal Palace and develop his career organically instead.
Turns out, he’s gone on to develop one of the most avid followings on the platform, cultivating a huge number of fans who tune in to enjoy his tweets, podcast and, soon, YouTube videos. Moreover, the responses to both his video and Laura’s shows there are still plenty of nice people on the old ‘bird app’.
Above all else, his success story serves as a shining example to anyone looking to overcome personal obstacles and do what they love.
Well in, Dan.
You can watch his full face reveal and hear more about what’s coming from him in the near future down below. Be sure to check out the HLTCO Podcast while you’re at it.
Featured Image — HLTCO (via YouTube)/talkSPORT (via Twitter)
Tributes pour in for Manchester City legend and former chairman Franny Lee
Tributes are being paid to Manchester City legend and former chairman Francis ‘Franny’ Lee CBE, who has passed away aged 79.
The ex-Man City, Bolton Wanderers, Derby County and England star is said to have passed away in the early hours on Monday morning, 2 October, following a long battle with cancer.
Speaking via a club statement, his wife Gill along with children Charlotte, Jonny and Nik said, “He will be sorely missed and would like to thank everyone for their kind words”.
Both Manchester teams led tributes to the British footballing legend, with avid City fan Liam Gallagher and countless others joining in paying their respects.
Franny Lee scored 148 goals in 330 appearances during eight-year City, helping the club win multiple honours during their first periods of success, including the old First Division title back in 1968.
Born in Lancashire and starting out elsewhere in Greater Manchester at Bolton Wanderers, he also went on to play for Derby following his time with the Blues, helping the Rams to their second-ever title in 1975.
The striker also had 27 caps for England between 1968–1972, scoring 10 goals and winning FA Cup, League Cup, European Cup Winners’ Cup and the Charity Shield twice at club level during that period.
Honouring their former centre-forward who went on to serve as Chairman for four years from 1994 onwards, the club statement read, “It is with the deepest sadness and heaviest of hearts we announce the passing of former Manchester City player and Chairman Francis Lee, aged 79”, adding that flags around the Etihad Campus are flying at half-mast.
His first club, Bolton, said of the former marksman, “All at Bolton Wanderers are saddened to learn of the passing of former forward, Francis Lee. The thoughts of everyone at the club are with Francis’ family, friends and loved ones at this difficult time.”
As for legacy as for his time in Blue, the club had already planned to immortalise Lee prior to his death, announcing the erection of a statue back in May 2022, the reveal date of which will no doubt be moved up following his passing.
The club has also assured that “more tributes will follow in the coming days.”
Rest in peace to a legend.
Featured Image — Manchester City/England/Bolton Wanderers (via Twitter)
Michael Bisping announces second ‘Tales From The Octagon’ talk with Manc MMA star Tom Aspinall
UFC legend Michael Bisping is bringing back his hugely popular Tales From The Octagon conversation series and he’s bringing Manc MMA star Tom Aspinall as well as Scottish fighter Paul Craig along for the latest Manchester talk.
Following the success of his first trio of live shows back in 2021 — then marketed simply as ‘An Evening with Michael Bisping’ — the Lancashire-raised fighter has invited along the two fellow Northerners to make this latest event more of a discussion surrounding MMA’s past, present and future.
Despite being born in Cyrpus, Bisping spent most of his life not too far down the road in Clitheroe and has spent a lot of time in Manchester, including winning multiple fights at the AO Arena and even meeting his wife, so there was never any question he’d be bringing the tour back to his second home.
Hosting just two shows this time, one at London’s Indigo at the O2 and the other at the Manchester Apollo, the talk promises stories spanning years inside the Octagon as well as the 44-year-old’s time commentating cage-side since retiring back in 2018.
The second Tales From The Octagon live show will also see the special guests chipping in with plenty of their own “wonderful, hilarious” and exclusive “behind-the-scenes stories” and they provide their own take on the MMA scene at large of today.
Craig, a former light heavyweight champion and Aspinall, a Salford-born heavyweight currently ranked fourth overall in the UFC, will both be joining the expert panel across the two dates this winter, bringing their own funny anecdotes, personal stories and unique takes on their careers and the sport as a whole.
Best of all, like sitting down to watch with a mate who also happens to be a vastly knowledgeable fight fan, Bisping style on stage draws both casual and new fans with the open, informal style, whilst still making sure to entertain the hardcore followers of the sport.
With Aspinall being not only a local lad but one of the UFC rising stars and next in line for a heavyweight, we’re also looking forward to hearing his thoughts on how fast-growing career. Here is Bisping speaking on just how excited he is by the 30-year-old fighter:
Speaking ahead of the two new shows, Bisping said: “The last tour in the UK was epic, I was overwhelmed by the turnout and reaction of my fans old and new. I can’t wait to come back later this year with a new show and with Tom and Paul in tow.”
Given the popularity of these three and the fact the previous tour went down a treat, it’s fair to say seats to sit in on this conversation are going to go fast.
Now branching into acting, running a successful podcast and YouTube channel, not to mention a Sunday Times and Amazon Best Seller thanks to his 2019 autobiography, Quitters Never Wins, you’re getting a real value-for-money showing.
The Tales From The Octagon 2 talk in Manchester takes place on 16 December; tickets start from just £28.50 and you can secure yours HERE.