Jamie Rainbow takes a look at club websites from Yorkshire, Wales and the West Midlands 

Being defined by whom one hates, rather than who one is, can cause no end of problems. Just look, for example, at The Square Ball, a fanzine-cum-website devoted to Leeds United. In terms of who to support, the forthcoming European Cup final between Manchester United and Bayern Munich has caused much anxiety. Should Leeds fans be influenced by a “long-term dislike of Man U” or a “burning sense of injustice from the 1975 European Cup Final”? Or, like the rest of us, should they get on with their life and just enjoy the game on its merits?

Further antipathy towards Man Utd is evident in the index of articles available. One – somewhat predictably – lists the reasons for hating David Beckham.

Surprisingly, jealousy isn’t among them. More amusing though is the bogus schedule for United’s cable TV channel. Pro­grammes include Every Second Counts – a quiz with Alex Ferguson and his stopwatch and Changing Rooms, in which David Beckham reminisces about the one he sat in following his dismissal against Argentina.

Yet, despite the Old Trafford obsession, this is actually quite an informative and relatively well-designed site.

Swansea’s Mouthful of Lead site carries a couple of revealing interviews with employees past and present. First there’s the sacked boss Jan Molby, who puts up a spirited defence of his limited managerial achievements at the Vetch, while deftly deflecting questions about his drinking.

More revealing is the interview with assistant chairman Neil McClure, who, attempting to justify his record at Swansea, becomes rattled at the constant stream of accusations and concludes the interview by suggesting: “Given this shit, the debate ends here.” Touchy.

Furthermore, he recommends the interviewer support Cardiff – presumably the ultimate insult to a Swansea supporter. Manager John Hollins gets off relatively lightly, although the suggestion that he complacently presides over a “graveyard of ambition” confirms that the heady days following Swansea’s FA Cup win over West Ham were short-lived.

Less bitter, and consequently much more fun, is the unofficial West Brom page. The site attempts to answer several frequently asked questions about the club, one or two of which could be useful should you be involved in a Midlands pub quiz. For example, why is the club known as the Baggies? Well, debate rages. Among the theories is the suggestion that the word is a corruption of the name Magee, a popular full-back at the club in the 1920s. Or possibly it derives from a period when the club – attempting to avoid bankruptcy – toured local pubs collecting money in bags.

For exiled West Brom fans there’s a useful section offering a summary of all media stories relating to the club. For the more trivia-obsessed there’s a list of things you never knew about the club, including the revelation that the Hawthorns is not only the highest ground above sea level in England, but was also the first to in­troduce electronic turnstiles. Another one for the pub quiz per­haps, although for the sake of one’s self-respect, it may be better to keep the latter fact under your hat.

From WSC 148 June 1999. What was happening this month

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