Jamie Rainbow checks out non-league on the web, plus a look at some of the more interesting unofficial club sites
The Non-League on the Net site was recommended by someone who feared it was in danger of closing down due to lack of interest. It shouldn’t do, as in terms of content and appearance it’s got more to offer than your average club site. Furthermore, if you follow a non-League side, you’re more likely to find out information about them here than anywhere else. There’s plenty of it, too, not just on the Conference but on the feeder leagues and beyond.
Numerous links to individual club message boards offer the chance to banter with rival supporters from the safety of your own home. So if you want to make fun of the ponytail sported by Dulwich Hamlet’s goalkeeper – and if you’ve seen it, you will – then this is the place for you.
The most interesting feature though was the story of two Brazilians, William Richoppo and Alexandre Sforsin, who travelled to England during their summer holidays in the hope of securing a playing contract in England. If Emerson’s antics tarnished your opinion of Brazilian footballers, then your faith should be restored by the enthusiasm and gratitude shown by Richoppo and Sforsin.
Also worth a visit is an unofficial Scunthorpe site, which avoids the traditional unofficial club site formula (gratuitous digs at local rivals, out of date match reports, terrible design) in favour of an irreverent and largely visual approach to the club’s fortunes. You’ll find loads of Scunthorpe-related graphics enabling you to “Scunnify your PC”, which sounds uncomfortable, but is in fact a way of personalising your desktop.
There are also a couple of illustrations which purport to be self-portraits drawn by the players as part of a set of psychology tests – make up your own minds on that one – plus a poll to determine Scunthorpe’s best ever ginger-haired player. There are none of the lists of statistics which, from a neutral perspective, spoil many club sites, but there is the bonus of cartoon characters Itchy and Scratchy re-enacting the friendly between Scunthorpe and Doncaster.
With the current pre-eminence of the Premiership, a site devoted exclusively to the Nationwide League seems like a good idea and I’m sure one day it will be. At the moment, though, the content of the Nationwide Netzine is sparse, which for a new site is perhaps to be expected. Nonetheless, much of what is here is worth reading and the philosophy behind the site seems admirable: recruiting fanzine writers to help create an unofficial Nationwide community. Given time, it should pay off.
This minimalist approach is echoed by the Manchester City Chips ’n’ Gravy fanzine. Either that or they just can’t be bothered to update the site too frequently. A typical match report read: “Not much happened really. We predicted 1-1. That’s about it.” Indicative of this relaxed approach is the fact that City’s ascent to the top of the First Division passes by without mention. The fatalistic attitude of the club’s supporters is acknowledged in a list of favourite songs. One begins: “We never win at home and we never win away/ We lost last week and we lost today...” All that may soon change, though given their recent history, perhaps self-deprecation is the wisest course to adopt for the time being.
From WSC 153 November 1999. What was happening this month