Sites for bored eyes

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