The Seventy Two so far: 100,000 reasons to be cheerful
I don’t indulge myself very often in blog format. Most of the time, the hope is that you can rely on this site to provide a perspective on the Football League that you might not find elsewhere. Most club-specific blogs are unashamedly biased and most national newspapers and websites concentrate, understandably, on top flight football.
In a nutshell, that is the reasoning behind the existence of this site. In reality, it hasn’t thus far worked out quite how I envisaged it would. Most fans are interested primarily in their own clubs and most of the traffic on the site is driven through NewsNow – meaning supporters wanting to read about their own clubs when they are covered here.
It isn’t actually clear how many visitors to the site enjoy browsing articles about clubs other than their own. There may even be a few supporters of Premier League, Non-League or foreign clubs stretching to a regular read! Who knows? Feel free to wave in the comments section!
I think there is a lot more work that can be done to shape the site’s place within what some people refer to as the “blogosphere”. There is a sense that coverage of foreign football is more glamorous than articles about Barnet and Morecambe (two names plucked at random from the depths of League Two…), but this shouldn’t be a complaint. This is a challenge. A challenge to make articles on lower league clubs as interesting as possible.
I often do a bit of research into what people think of the site by clicking on incoming forum links and trying to take in as much as possible from the responses that an article here may have provoked. For the most part, the feedback is good and that is testament to the quality of writing provided by a wealth of contributors. If there is a common complaint, it is that articles do not tell a fan anything new about their club. This is balanced with the occasional comment that it is interesting to read a neutral perspective on their club, but there is still an overriding feeling that the site can improve.
The current series in which supporters have been writing about the five best players at their club since the turn of the century is a bit of a red herring. It’s an interesting series and I have enjoyed reading it myself. However, the thought behind it was not so much to provide good content, although I hope and think this has happened, but rather to showcase some great writers – many of whom may not fancy going to the trouble of maintaining a full-time blog on their own club or football in general.
Given that no-one who has contributed to the site has ever been paid a penny, I think most of the writing has reached an exceptional standard. I throw the odd bit of punctuation in here and there but I rarely have to edit too much so I have to pay tribute to everyone who has ever contributed an article. Every one has helped to enhance the site’s reputation and led to me doing things I’d never truly believed were possible before.
One of these things is contributing to The Guardian’s Football League blog. I’m lucky that I enjoy my job and I’m not in this football blogging lark to make money – so far I have earned nothing either from my writing on this site or for The Guardian – which confirms the appearance of a few of my articles on their website as a dream come true. My Dad has bought The Guardian for what seems like every weekday and Saturday since I can remember and I have always enjoyed their football writing. Sid Lowe is my favourite writer, never mind football writer. But enough about that.
One of the main challenges in running a Football League blog is to give a fair amount of coverage to all 72 clubs and, of course, remain as impartial as possible. It is no secret that I support a Championship club and this means any decent coverage of League One and League Two on my part is a difficult task. I see the odd game at that level but would never make any proclamations about a team or the standard of football because it wouldn’t be based on enough experience to make it worthwhile.
As for my Championship club… well, they lost last night in a very important game and it was hard to take. An important part of being able to run this site involves following a lot of fans of other clubs, particularly club-specific bloggers, on Twitter and to see a couple of them crowing about an admittedly superb result for their side last night was painful. I’m improving in the way I deal with that, though, mainly by going into hibernation for at least a couple of hours after each disappointing defeat.
Today, The Seventy Two will reach 100,000 page views since its birth in late June last year. Hence this impromptu reflection on what it has been like to run. This is more than some sites and less than some sites, but from my perspective it feels like a small achievement both for me and, in particular, for everyone who has contributed to it in the past, especially those who have done so on a regular basis.
For any regular readers, I would be interested to know which is your favourite post on the site so far. For what it’s worth, mine is the interview I carried out with David Jones from Sky Sports. I interrupted him while he was writing Christmas cards, but he happily talked away on the phone for over an hour and it was fascinating. In a way, that sums up the positive, progressive nature of Twitter, football blogs and the friendly side of football fans in general. The link forged between this site and many others, in particular that other splendid Football League blog The Two Unfortunates, has re-inforced my faith in football fans.
Here’s to another 100,000 and thanks for reading. I really appreciate it.
David (site editor)