THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Ian Plenderleith investigates the best and worst websites offering 'sidesways glances' to the game

If you think Private Eye’s satire on the travails of Neasden FC and its two top fans Sid and Doris Bonkers ran out of steam around 20 years ago, then try the new, strictly non-profit, online fanzine All The Pies. It’s punchy, semi-anarchic, and has the potential, you feel, to get funnier.

In the first issue you can read an interview with Kitty Braith­waite, the TV presenter who “recently discovered that she had a lifelong passion for Southend United, the Football League club small on achievements but big on credibility for the up-and-coming celebrity”. You can also follow the soap opera as it unfolds at Cludgie Park AFC, or even write in with your own plot suggestions, and then put yourself in the shoes of a referee deciding how to avoid giving a penalty at Old Trafford. ATP aims to appear monthly, “but you know what it’s like... life has its distractions, so you may need to be patient,” its anonymous authors warn.

“David Mellor – Why?” is the perfectly reasonable question posited by another new site, Kick Mellor Out of Football. Unsur­prisingly, the goal of the site is “to set aside a place on the internet for fans to vent their feelings about this pompous and arrogant broadcaster”. It was founded by Crystal Palace fans angered by the odious impostor’s comments about the club on radio and in the London Evening Standard, and who are trying to raise money for the Crystal Palace Supporters’ Trust by selling a T-shirt depicting a fine parody of the game’s most bloated sycophant.

There’s not much by way of content, but log in to the guestbook where a gratifying battery of putdowns such as “At last! A vehicle for the destruction of this craven weevil lickspittle” reflect the overwhelming sense of ­cathartic relief at the existence of this site.

Another site to be avoided by the faint of heart is Football Girls, an unashamed celebration of life as a female player which aims to enlighten women on where they can play and, more importantly, how much they should drink after the game and what they should sing while doing it.

Traditional male anthems are turned upside down so that a ditty like This Old Man becomes: “Football boys, they play six/Little boys with little pricks.” And that is probably one of the least obscene lines out of the whole songbook, which are supplemented with some baffling drinking games involving simulating orgasm and “boob-grabbing”. After that, you have to conclude that the love ode to Michael Owen was penned in the midst of a rollicking hangover.

This is more refreshing than the coverage of women’s football you will find at most websites, which still insist on referring to a sport played by “ladies”. Sites such as Zoo Football post a token Women’s Football section which is virtually empty, yet give vast amounts of space (and doubtless money) to rambling stars of yore like Ron Harris, Peter Osgood and Stan Bowles, who writes of England’s Euro 2000 defeat against Portugal: “I’ve shown more dignity in losing the wife’s housekeeping money in a game of late night poker than the way press and public reacted to the 3-2 defeat.”

This is on a website which offers the following advice to those who want to become football journalists: “Adopt the correct smug media poise [and] brighten it up with a dash of sub-Loaded humour.” You think they’re joking until you start to read the rest of the copy on the website. Little boys indeed.

From WSC 162 August 2000. What was happening this month

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