Webwatch

The resilience of Australian fans and some English satire catch Ian Plenderleith's attention this month, but it’s a site campaigning to give fans the right to leave their seats that really has him applauding

Enter the poetic world of the Wollongong Wolves, the Blackdown City Demons and (my favourite) Manly United at Back Of The Net!, a site devoted to Australian football. The above teams all play in the New South Wales Premier League (current leaders: the Bonnyrigg White Eagles) and this is the web location to find out how Manly’s Orhan Dincer recently scored past “a grasping Matthew Trott”. You feel the description of the goal must sound better than it actually looked.

The weblog – an online diary rather than a standard website – is a simple way to let the world know what you’re thinking. Ian Plenderleith looks for the football blogs by people with thoughts worth reading

Blessed with unlimited internet access and the feeling that the world really wants to know, a lot of football fans keep weblogs. It doesn’t cost anything, it’s less time consuming than running a website, and it provides a platform for the entire online world, if it so chooses, to read ill-considered, unedited partisan rants that are, in terms of worthwhile wisdom, barely one step removed from the tedious, repetitious abuse of the standard message board.

Online coverage of matches can amount to little more than the bare statistics or, worse, a sub-tabloid set of cliches. But  Ian Plenderleith finds some fan sites that still offer an original alternative to the press

While reading a match report that involves your own team, you might tolerate the lowest standards of writing just to find out the basic details of who scored when. Most web­sites realise this and skimp on all attempts at style, structure and originality in favour of short, bland, factual write-ups. The occasional more gifted writers, however, will engage the neutral and keep them reading to the end, no matter which sides are playing.

Concerned you haven’t been giving your club enough money online? Seems unlikely, but a group of consultants have been telling clubs just that. A jaundiced Ian Plenderleith reviews their review

Do Premiership teams listen to criticism from their fans? Only if the fans picket board meetings and shout loud enough to garner coverage in the national press. Do Premiership teams listen to criticism from fans about the official club website? There’s no empirical proof, but I’d guess the answer is, “Probably not much”. However, if that criticism comes from “an internet consultancy using a holistic approach to add value to a company’s online presence”, it might be a different story.

Armed gratefully with your votes, Ian Plenderleith picks out some of the very best sites, many of which have featured in this column over the past five years, though they appear in no particular order

Stadiums
Pyramid Passion Sister site to the excellent Nomad Online (covering Sussex non-League football), both run by David Bauckham, PP boasts great pictures and text about English non-League stadiums, plus galleries of dug-outs, floodlights, ground signs and even “rollers and mowers”.

Photography is at the heart of football culture and Ian Plenderleith is happy to tour the best sites on which you can admire the snappers' art.

The Franco-Mauritanian artist and sage Malcolm de Chazal once said: “When indifferent, the eye takes still photographs; when interested, movies.” His aphorism applies to football photos, too.

Ian Plenderleith trawls the web for minnows and finds that the smallest European football associations and their clubs are, like their teams out on the pitch, willing but not always particularly able

Like it or not, small and mostly useless Euro­pean footballing nations are now an in­tegral part of the game’s landscape. This month’s column tackles the highly charged question that many have asked but few have been able to answer – can countries such as Lux­embourg and Liechtenstein compete on the web any better than they do on the field?

Ian Plenderleith embarks on his annual search to unearth that rarest of cyberspace entities – the funny football website. The good news is, he is successful this time. The bad news is, not very often

Some years ago this page printed a very unkind review of a new football “satire” website called Sports Offensive , which res­ponded by publishing an admittedly pertinent parody of the author’s regular online column. Since then, and having added the sub-heading “Big Games – Big Lies”, the site has gone from mindless crudity to witty burlesque, inspired in the main by both the hyperbole and inanity of mainstream sports journalism.

In case you've ever caught yourself totting up how many different grounds you've been to and thought you might be coming down with an obsession, Ian Plenderleith has found the sites of the true hard core

Most fans like to visit an uncharted sta­dium for the first time. A change of view and a new degree of toxicity in your half-time snack are the small paybacks for taking on an often unrewarding away trip. But there are people who take things a bit too far. Welcome to the world of groundhoppers.

A fantasy football site which rewards ineptitude leads off Ian Plenderleith's guide to low quality web-browsing. And ideas don't get much worse than on a site offering pet coats for sale in club colours

There are few football fans who haven’t attempted to manage fantasy teams at some point over the past ten years, because we all harbour an illusion that we could do a better job than the men who are paid millions just to mostly mess up. Then we discover that the players we picked did not perform to expectations. This has not led to a noticeable rise in understanding of the trials and setbacks suffered by those in charge of a real team, but at least most of us now realise, after finishing in position 124,971 of whichever league we entered, that we are just as clueless as the men we routinely scorn and heckle from the safety of the stands.

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