It's the season of goodwill and all that kind of cobblers, so Ian Plenderleith finds some reasons to be cheerful on the internet
In the spirit of transient positivity that is unique to either the start of the new football season or the beginning of a fresh year, WSC hereby presents its Web Awards for the best five independent club-based fan sites, and for the best five general sites. The judge has scrupulously retained his penchant for wang-eyed subjectivity and has failed to cast off irrational prejudices, but would like to emphasise that originality, wit and the quality of writing played a considerable part in his selection of the following webzines, which appear in no particular order.
Top five independent club sites
Blind Stupid and Desperate A Watford FC webzine that is short on visual thrills but high on consistently strong prose. This summary of the merits of a First Division rival reflects the general tone – “Sheffield Wednesday: A damp catherine wheel that failed to go off last year, still nailed forlornly to a wonky post.” A primary lesson to all webzine editors – snazzy graphics count for nothing without well-thought words.
Strength Match reports
Rage Online Long-running site at the forefront of campaigns to stop Oxford United sinking, though, as one match report points out following the demise of this season’s early optimism: “Unfortunately, when you’re not at rock bottom then there’s always rock bottom to reach.” Also boasts funny, apposite headlines, such as the one following Oxford’s first round FA Cup exit: Rubbish Dumped.
Strength Crap poetry page
HTFC-World A must-see Huddersfield site for the strange and brilliant photo-captioned match reports, which are well worth the extra download times. A non-profit labour of love, so enjoy it while it lasts as host Danny is complaining about a lack of both time and funds.
Strength Match report photo-montage
London Clarets The Burnley FC Supporters Club’s site, despite being frequently blocked out by an extremely irritating pop-up window from the site’s server, provides a platform for some of the best webzine writing around. A chunky site with immense archival depth.
Strength (among many): John McPartlin on Burnley’s European campaigns in the 1960s
Black Arab This unofficial Bristol Rovers fanzine commends itself for almost wholly failing to take itself seriously. Slightly anarchic and sneekily snide towards the sites which have sold out to umbrella conglomerates, the feel is for flippancy above all. Because what else can help but gallows humour when your club’s going all the way down the league?
Strength Carefree frivolity
Top five general football sites
Poems For Football Fans When WSC reviewed this site early last year, they immediately wrote us a poem on the subject of a game between Lebanon and Kazakhstan, which is now hung and framed above the web editor’s desk. Undergoing a redesign to accommodate the burgeoning ranks of football wordsmiths, this site remains a crater of creativity on the internet’s vast and mediocre moonscape.
Strength Poetry on motion
Groundtastic Irresistible companion website to the indispensable magazine devoted to the building, development and history of football stadiums of all shapes and dimensions. This site takes you to places, stands and stretches of deep-studded grass inconceivable in the wildest dreams of the saddest groundhoppers.
Strength Pictures and postcards
Footie51 Arguably the best general site of all for its range and level of journalism. Interesting features (on the history of the football song or football on film for example), well-informed commentaries, regular fanzine and book reviews, and lower-name interviews should all combine to place Footie51 at the top of any bookmark folder headed “Football Culture”.
Strength In breadth
Rec. Sport Soccer Statistics Foundation The place to go when love falls apart in your life and you need a fresh perspective on what is really important. Like where Rail Club Kadiogo finshed this year in Burkina Faso Division One. And remember how you nearly got into a fight down the pub over who won the Chinese second division in 1964? This is the place to settle it like real men (it was the Nanjing Army Unit, of course). Contains lists of stats and names to fire the dullest of imaginations.
Strength In numbers
All The Pies Notable for failing to write a single serious feature on anything, this webzine is approaching its second birthday staying true to the principles on which it was founded – namely, we don’t know much about football and we don’t care. Done for fun, not money, this site believes that all persons or institutions within the game of football are worthy targets for mockery and parody.
Strength Unparalleled levity
From WSC 179 January 2002. What was happening this month