Webwatch

As well as looking at sad stats for transfers and appearances, Jamie Rainbow takes in unofficial Stoke City and official Accrington Stanley

You get what you pay for, we’re often told. Not in the world of football you don’t, where, according to a site devoted to the transfer market, Transfer News, financial outlay bears little or – in the case of Newcastle – no relation to success. Since the inception of the Premier League in 1992, the three heaviest spending clubs have been Newcastle, Liverpool and Everton, none of whom currently show any signs of justifying their massive investments. 

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.

Hooligan's and Graeme Souness (no connection) are just some of the things that Jamie Rainbow has been looking at on the web

In the wake of Cardiff’s opening day visit from Millwall, there has been much talk of a resurgence in football hooliganism involving rival fans allegedly arranging fights over the internet. Time then for WSC to undertake an in-depth invest­igation into the phenomenon. An initial search for “football hooligan” produced 230 sites. The first selection was called simply: “Hooligan’s”, which sounded promising until I discovered it was a site advertising Hooligan’s Tavern in New York. However, the bar does claim to be “equipped to serve all your sporting needs”, so you never know.

Jamie Rainbow points us in the direction of Hartlepool and Southend unofficial sites, bemoans the lack of an FA website and reveals a fan's obsession with mini kits

Manchester United are not the only side who can lay claim to a worldwide support. Hartlepool may not have plans to open a megastore in Singapore, but they do have a couple of Swedish-based fans who have set up a website in honour of the club. And, once the initial language difficulties have been overcome, very good it is too. You’ll find an interesting history of the town with a refreshingly honest appraisal of the football team. “Hartlepool has an appallingly bad football team which consistently struggles towards the bottom of the English football league,” admits the site. There are a few historical snippets along with a comprehensive news section featuring daily updates on all the club-related gossip.

Jamie Rainbow enjoys the buffet at Kilmarnock, a lacklustre service at Watford and delves into the unofficial sites of Huddersfield and Blackpool

Those who witnessed the eventful scenes in the final Old Firm league game of the season will have been surprised to discover that Scotland were the recipients of this year’s UEFA Fair Play trophy. Chief beneficiaries of the award were Kilmarnock, who automatically claimed a UEFA Cup spot. According to the official Kilmarnock site, Scotland pipped England; the eventual margin between the two countries being a mere 0.001 of a point or, in lay terms, a Dennis Wise booking. There is much to admire about this site, not because it’s visually impressive (it’s not) nor because the content is especially interesting (it isn’t), but because it is such a friendly, intimate affair, that one instantly feels part of the extended Kilmarnock family. For example, celebrating the anniversary of one of the club’s sponsors, commercial director Jim McSherry notes: “The buffet was the worst spread ever. Two or three bowls of nuts, then Dorothy sent husband Russell up to Hannahs to buy another bag of crisps. The Killie four were fair looking forward to hot sausage rolls.” The site also contains the usual vast array of largely pointless statistics but, despite this, a fleeting glimpse of one of Dorothy’s buffets makes a visit worthwhile.

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?

Jamie Rainbow takes a look at the latest football developments on the internet

Ken Bates has made great play of the financial potential of Chelsea Football Club. They may not yet be the Manchester United of the south, but looking at the official club website, it seems only a matter of time before the off-the-field activities match their success on the field. Many of the club’s diverse range of activities are featured. 

Jamie Rainbow  sees all things John Collins related and more as he reports on the latest football developments on the web

There's a site devoted to the career of John Collins. Nothing remarkable in that you might think, until you discover that the site is run by a Brazilian - suggesting that Walter Smith was not the only person to be seduced by a penalty converted in the World Cup finals. Although for future reference Walter, perhaps it would be more prudent just to set up a website. There’s plenty of worthwhile input here, much of it from Collins himself. For instance, he relates the story of the Rainier family attempting to persuade him to stay with Monaco. Firstly, Prince Rainier’s nephew spoke to him, enabling Collins to smugly admit: “Prince Albert also asked me not to leave. I didn't like letting either of them down.” Well, you don’t, do you. He also admits he’ll miss evenings like the private reception held in honour of Monaco’s title win in 1997. Fear not John, I understand Everton’s annual ‘beat the drop’ parties are rumoured to be fun.

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