From what I can tell, it’s awards season in the football blogging fraternity. The Soccerlens awards, the WSC Web Awards and the NOPAs, to name just three. I’m not going to lie to you – GhostGoal didn’t get a single nomination from any of them. Did they not hear about my piece in November’s When Saturday Comes that one reader in the letters page described as “not letting the facts get in the way of a good story”? Actually maybe they did and that’s the problem..
No, I can only assume these things are sewn up like the FIFA awards.. perhaps the Americans were too busy throwing their money at Grant Wahl’s bid for Best Writer rather than trying to secure 2022? Maybe Iain Macintosh is a cash-rich oil magnate with more dough than sense … I’ve certainly heard that the lads from In Bed With Maradona entertain strange blokes from all over the globe so, frankly, who knows…
But I’m not going to do an Andy Anson and moan about the system because I’ve got a better idea. Imaginatively, I’m calling it the GhostGoal Awards 2010. Here goes..
I know, I know. Guardian Football Weekly is an institution. To be honest, it’s probably the only podcast I listen to religiously without fail. And it boasts some of the finest journalists around. But this is a blog awards. The Guardian is a national newspaper and James Richardson has been a television presenter for the best part of 20 years. So I’m going to salute Andrew Gibney and the GibFootballShow.
I can’t speak highly enough of what this guy has done. I wouldn’t know where to start when it comes to organising and hosting my own podcast. This guy has done it (the easier part) and then made a success of it (not so easy). What’s more, it has given a platform to many other guys I enjoy listening to and whose work I enjoy reading:
Jack Lang of Snap Kaka Pop
Adam Digby of Il Tifosi
Charlie Anderson aka Luciano Says
Gav Stone of Les Rosbifs
Ethan Dean-Richards of SurrealFootball
Chris Mayer of 6pointer
David Bevan of TheSeventyTwo
Brent Atema of GlobalFootballToday
Give them some support in the NOPA Awards by voting in the People’s Choice Award here or, even better, visit the GibFootballShow site and have a listen.
BackPageFootball – This was the site that gave me my first opportunity to write somewhere other than my own blog. I’d written about three pieces and Kevin Coleman, the founder, got in touch. They’ve been giving inexperienced football enthusiasts the chance to reach a wider audience ever since. I’m thrilled the boys have also received a NOPA nomination for their Hold The Back Page podcast. Good luck lads.
BEST FOOTBALL WRITER
A professional footbal writer with a real job and everything. But it’s not for his work on The New Paper in Singapore or even his services to the ThreeUpFront podcast that earns Iain this award. It’s his brilliant work for In Bed With Maradona and the wonderful writing on his own blog that sets Iain Macintosh apart.
Iain’s pieces for In Bed With Maradona were the stand-out contributions on an excellent site. Check out these two for confirmation:
Disrespecting You. Disrespecting Your Family.
Europa League; A Dead Mouse in a Loaf of Bread.
As for Iain’s own blog, it has been a treasure trove – an eclectic mix. Evoking the spirit of noir one minute, dealing with the drudgery of the mundane the next. Never more so than in the fantastical account of his adventures managing German strugglers Heidenheim and, later, Woodlands in Singapore.
In the new meritocracy that social media provides, Iain Macintosh is perhaps its greatest beneficiary: standing alongside the big beasts as a fellow with an opinion not to be ignored.
Jacob Steinberg – this guy’s dry humour has long made him a must-follow on Twitter. He overcame a difficult debut on Guardian’s Football Weekly in which he decribed Robert Green as ‘World Class’ by continuing to engage with his Guardian minute-by minute work and notably producing this excellent piece for WhoAteAllThePies in which he discusses his love for Italian football.
Jeff Livingstone, with the help of David Hartrick and Ben Shave, has managed to put together a collective of football writers to produce the best all-encompassing football site around. In essence, it is almost a Best Of compliation. Like Radu Baicu’s thoughts on Romanian football? You’ll find them here. Adam Digby and Rocco Cammisola’s Italian football knowledge? It’s here. Every corner of the globe seems to be covered and it’s all put together in a slick fashion. What’s more, you’ve got regular contributions from the aforementioned Iain Macintosh and other seasoned pros such as Dan Brennan. What a site.
In Bed With Maradona seems to be up for various awards. Vote for them in the Soccerlens Awards here.
Football Further by Tom Williams. I love this site. It’s a one-man show by a professional journalist and has just the right mix to it. There’s a great banner picture for starters – Hans van der Meer’s famous photograph, as described in David Winner’s Brilliant Orange, illustrating the moment Ajax’s dominance of Europe was ended by Juventus. Then there’s the French football expertise and the original tactical insights. Throw in the interview with Michael Cox of Zonal Marking fame and you have one of the great all-round one-man blogs.
The Equaliser – this one-man blog by Chris Mann really caught the imagination with its ‘greatest twenty managers’ feature. That, coupled with its ‘my favourite player’ series and regular updates on African football, sets The Equaliser apart. Check out who won his vote for best manager ever here.
BEST NICHE SITE
One of the problems with doing a piece like this is that the whole exercise can be a redundant one. In this case, it feels like handing Al Pacino a TV Quick gong. But there’s no point being contrary for contrary’s sake – Michael Cox’s Zonal Marking blog is the blog of all blogs. Perhaps it is taken for granted now that his site is the first one many fans search for after a big game, and the man himself is writing for The Guardian and ITV among others. But just over a year ago, Michael Cox was just another kid in his bedroom trying to find an audience for his thoughts. I know because I was one of his few readers back then! He launched the Twitter account and the rest as they say is history: a living, breathing example of what is possible in the social media age when you’ve got an idea, plenty of knowledge and are prepared to work bloody hard at it. Michael doesn’t follow me on Twitter anymore – something which may or may not be related to an unseemly spat over a Joey Barton cross! Ah well, his is still the best blog out there, and here’s some examples:
Teams of the Decade #1: Greece at Euro 2004
How the 2000s Changed Tactics #1: The Fall and Rise of the Passing Midfielder
Barcelona 1-0 Inter, 2010 UEFA Champions League Semi-Final 2nd Leg
Les Rosbifs: this site following the adventures of English footballers abroad is just superb and, from a personal point of view, addresses an interest I’ve long held (and many more like me judging by its success). Why are English footballers so often ignored when they leave these shores? Gav Stone’s Les Rosbifs site is redressing the balance.
Talking about Football by Tim Hill: another tactics site, perhaps Tim is the Anakin to Michael Cox’s Obi-Wan – the force is certainly strong in this one. While Zonal Marking is clearly the go-to site for anyone looking for a breakdown of recent matches, Tim has carved out his own niche with some great retrospectives on games gone by – none more impressive than his look at Ajax ’73 here.
Swiss Ramble: Talk about niche, the Swiss Rambler is simply the man for all business related football matters. As a former accountant myself I have some grasp of the financial side of things but this only serves to increase my appreciation of the time and effort that goes into his analyses. Over the past year the Rambler has investigated the financial affairs of many of Europe’s top clubs in a manner you simple won’t find beyond the confines of his website. Superb.
There’s been loads more to enjoy over the past year. This piece on Just Football was one of my favourites. There are other sites I like such as Brian Phillips’ Run of Play and Danny Last’s European Football Weekends. There are guys like Rocco Cammisola and his Football Express, Rob Marrs with LeftBackInTheChangingRoom, Sam Kelly of Hasta El Gol Siempre fame, who have all helped educate me on my football knowledge in 2010. Steve Gabb’s Mirko Bolesan blog always tells you something you thought you didn’t need to know – but then realise you really did! I’m hoping to read more from Josh Askew’s Holding Midfield blog in 2011 and that goes for anyone else with anything interesting to say about the game of football… yes, including Big Sam’s Twitter account.
A big thank you to everyone above.