Ian Plenderleith delves into the highs and lows of Welsh football online, from Simon Davies's enthusiastic views on Qatar to Porthmadog's inexplicable rejection of after-match hospitality

The Welsh national side’s excellent start to the Euro 2004 qualifying campaign seems as good a reason as any to have a look at that nation’s web presence, starting with the quite tasty Dragon Soccer – Welsh International Football Online. It could also claim to be the Website Least Read By Welsh Internationals, judging by the answers given by leading play­ers on the site’s question and answer pages, which al­ways start with the touchingly hope­ful: “Have you ever visited the Dragon Soccer website?” The kindest answer is Andy Mel­ville’s “Not yet”.

Players also tell of their favourite foreign destination with the Welsh team. Rob Edwards sounds like an enthusiastic schoolboy when he explains the reason Cyprus touched him so: “The weather was brilliant and we stayed in a lovely hotel next to a massive beach.” Sim­on Davies explains that Qatar “is just a very nice play to be at”, while Carl Robinson en­joy­ed Norway because “it is similar to Wales”. Meanwhile, Grimsby goalkeeper Dan­iel Coyne is surely being a little bit cheeky when, asked to name a Welsh player from any era whom he would have loved to have played with, he res­ponds by naming the often absent Ryan Giggs.

Dragon Soccer also offers comprehensive stats, match reports, a little-used fans’ forum, and even a section for fans to profile them­selves. And why not, for who among us has not fantasised a thousand times about filling out a Shoot! questionnaire to tell the world about our favourite pre-match meal? How­ever, these ques­tions concentrate more on favourite beer and worst ever Welsh player. “There is no worst ever Welsh player,” replies one staunch fan indignantly. And at that point you can almost hear Robbie Savage’s mum standing up to applaud.

It’s worth logging on to the web pages of Denbigh Town, of the Welsh Alliance League, if only to enjoy the spectacular moustache and defiant expression of their manager Roy Cook-Hannah. The site also boasts one of those bare bones, economically written news sections where the readers are not told any more than they need to know: “Denbigh are dumped out of the Welsh Cup by Porthmadog.” Who cares by how many? (Although the guestbook does reveal a sad side-tale: “What a pity that Porthmadog did not return to the after match venue, where a nice spread had been laid on for them.”)

The news goes on: “More vandalism at Central Park. A section of the pitchside barrier in front of the stand has been severely dam­aged.” Were the perpetrators caught and pun­ished? Will repairs be completed before the clash with Llandudno Junction? You will never know, as this site lifts two minimalist fingers at the restrictions of conventional reportage. Or perhaps the deeper secrets of the Welsh Alliance League are simply not there for the pleasure of prying strangers.

Not so at Port Talbot Town, which has its own supporters’ club, Forza Town, in Chile, for no discernible reason. This would also ex­plain why Daniella, a student from the Uni­versity of Santiago, is seen modelling a Port Talbot Town away shirt on the “Town Babes” section of the club’s official website. And to think such things would never have been pos­sible without the internet.

If you’re a believer in the myth that foot­ballers were tougher in them days, or even if you’re not, the Legends of Farrar Road section of The Citizens Choice, a fine unofficial Ban­gor City site, makes for lively reading. From the 1960s you can read about Albert Jackson, “a centre-back who could and would tackle a runaway rhino”, or George McGowan, the “growling Scot… who had been a promising amateur boxer”. And you must have heard of Tony Coleman, “famed at Farrar Road for once bursting a ball with a fiercely struck shot!”

Welsh Football Magazine
, the online home of its celebrated print version, offers a scantling of tantalising articles to persuade you that the real thing is probably worth subscribing to. Although the news and results are updated conscientiously, the site itself is unfortunately thin for the understandable reason that the independent magazine needs subscribers in order to survive, and thus holds back most of its content. However, the editorial “Is football the new rugby?” is well worth reading, which­ever way you might wish to interpret the question.

From WSC 189 November 2002. What was happening this month

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