Webwatch

If you’re feeling fleeced by UK ticket prices and fancy a change of scenery, there are plenty of top continental clubs eager to attract your support and speaking your language, Ian Plenderleith finds

For many home football fans, British connoisseurs of the continental game have always been regarded as a pretentious breed who tend to look down their noses at the hoof and hump of island football. But with the help of budget air fares and many of the major European clubs still offering tickets at accessible prices (in contrast to the hype- and hyper-inflated Premier League), it can almost be cheaper to indulge in a trip to La Liga or Serie A than it is to spend an afternoon at St James’ Park. Or even Blundell Park.

While a site devoted to the football itself may be the best new discovery, Ian Plenderleith finds himself strangely drawn to the world of groundsmen by memories of a difficult career choice

It’s often been said that 90 per cent of the internet is a load of balls, but the “site of the month” award goes to a domain that has taken this to new and detailed extremes. Soccer Ball World is a football anorak’s long wet dream of history, stats and specifications centred around just one spherical object.

The player's personal website: a wonderful way for starrs to keep in touch with their fans, or gigantic ego-trips by names big and small wth nothing worth saying? Ian Plenderleith examines the evidence

If footballers have anything of interest to say nowadays, they tend to keep it to themselves, or they save it for their post-retirement, tell-all memoirs. In the meantime, they offload their mental leftovers on to the internet. This month’s column takes you on a whistle-stop tour of players’ online diaries to save you the trouble of surfing the net for trite nothings.

What started as a means of compelling pools companies to contribute to football has become a way to harass webzines. Ian Plenderleith reports on the battle raging over the copyright status of fixtures

The issue of copyright for football fixtures (see WSC 181) is in the news again after DataCo – the FA and Football League’s joint commercial venture – closed the Watford webzine Blind, Stupid and Desperate (BSaD) for listing, ahead of time, Watford’s fixture with Leicester City in October.

There’s nothing wrong with living in the past: the oldest clubs in England, Scotland and Wales are justly proud of their heritage. But, writes Ian Plenderleith, they can’t agree on who invented the crossbar

Fancy boasting that you’re in the same club as Sepp Blatter and Sven-Göran Eriksson? No, it’s not GOAL (the Grand Order of Ageing Lotharios), but the world’s oldest football club, Sheffield FC, founded in 1857 and still very much proud of the fact. And for £2.50 a month you can boast not just an enamel badge and four free tickets to a North Counties East Football League game of your choice, but fellow membership alongside the game’s balding but well tanned elder statesmen.

It may be no surprise that you can get great English coverage of football in Ireland, but Ian Plenderleith tracks down individual sites that cover Poland, Slovakia and even the whole of South America

Sometimes a Google search of your club’s name can take you to interesting places. Sligo, for example. If I hadn’t been looking for an obscure fact about Lincoln City, I would likely have discovered too late that the Imps were scheduled to play Sligo Rovers in a pre-season tournament in July. As it was, I was able to cancel my summer holiday in Tuscany and reschedule for the Emerald Isle instead (some parts of this paragraph are a lie).

Ian Plenderleith takes a mischevious delight in a site dedicated to ugly players, assesses the mixed credentials of players seeking to blag themselves a club on another, and savours a Gaillic nostalgia trip

Ugly Footballers is puerile and pointless. The perfect football website, in fact, and my favourite to feature this month. Taking the tired old concept of footballers’ haircuts a few steps further, the site shows and shames the worst of the game’s gurners, including current and past domestic and international stars, referees and players’ wives too.

Ian Plenderleith finds a Bob Paisley site that eloquently describes one legend’s achievements and a Brian Clough site that allows another to speak for himself. But the managers of today have a poor spokesman

In Germany, the man named as a club’s manager actually manages a team, while the coach is the coach. In the UK, it’s the manager who coaches, while the coach nods and hands out the training bibs. The traditional workplace definition of “manager” as a dour, incommunicative bloke with no personality doesn’t apply to domestic football (Kenny Dalglish aside), which makes it surprising that there are thousands of sites devoted to players, but very few to managers.

Talk of miracles in football is widespread at the moment, but Ian Plenderleith discovers that for some such words are meant literally rather than metaphorically, especially in American prisons and universities

First, the good news. Weekly online fanzine First Touch serves fans in the New York metropolitan area, but its content is more than good enough to spread the word further. True, it lists NY bars where you can watch European football, but its globally spread contributors offer mainly well considered commentaries on all aspects of the game.

Spam email often claims that it can help with feelings of inadequacy, but Ian Plenderleith is using the internet to make up for sortcomings he's been feeling for 27 years now: in his Panini collections

When Panini fever hit my school in the late 1970s, I couldn’t run with the pack. A search of my closet reveals the sad truth that for the two years I was an active collector, I fell short every time – 21 stickers shy of a full Euro Football album and nine too few for a total Football 78. Meanwhile the huge gaps in World Cup 78 and Football 79 reveal a young teenager tiring of the pre-pubescent norms and possibly collecting pictures of a different nature altogether.

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