Michelle: What do you prefer? Astroturf or grass?
Rodney: I don’t know, I’ve never smoked AstroTurf
It’s been almost ten years since I started The Ball is Round. Back in 2006 I was at my Football Tourist peak, dashing off to somewhere new almost every other week. European football was opening up for us all with the Internet giving us the answers to the important questions about local public transport and ticket buying procedures, whilst budget airlines seemed to be falling over themselves to open up more exotic routes. It was certainly the golden age to be a fan of football rather than just being a football fan.
Today the mystery and glamour of the Eternal Derby (take your pick between Rome, Belgrade and Sarajevo) has been well and truly debunked thanks to Social Media. We’ve all stood on the Sud Tribune at the Westfalonstadion in Dortmund, right? Or been hit by a toilet brush as the Spakenburg derby. European football no longer holds any surprises.
So in some ways the purpose of The Ball is Round has diminished, or rather our objectives have been achieved. I hope that we’ve helped a few people discover there is more to life that Sky Sports and the sanitised Premier League. We’ve all grown a little bit older and when I meet the few bloggers who were still around a decade ago, we no longer talk about daily website hits or #FFs. Those who are still left write because they love to write not for any commercial gain.
My day to day work has become all-consuming. My writing has had to take on a more serious tone about intellectual property infringements (with the occasional slant towards football such as this white paper published this year) rather than the slant I have taken before on the beautiful game. Virtually all of my “golden generation” peers have quit or have severely reduced their output, beaten into submission by the need to cover every Premier League team/player/story from a “new angle”. The likes of Danny Last, Damon Threadgold, Kenny Legg (3 of the 5 who along with David Hartrick and I put together the 500 Reasons to Love Football website) and Andy Hudson have all given up their writing. I blame Leicester City – after their achievement last season there is nothing left to write about football.
My role at Lewes FC has also meant I have had to smooth the edges to some of the things I have written about in the past. Putting anything controversial into a blog could land me with a “bringing the game into disripute” charge by the FA.
So whilst the words may become further spaced out, I haven’t yet fully given up the ghost. Yesterday, for instance, saw Lewes travel to local rivals Eastbourne Borough, for a Pre-Season Friendly. One of the perks of being Chairman is you do get access to almost part of the game. So instead of a predictably mundane match report from our 2-0 defeat on Boro’s new 3G pitch (hence the classic quote at the start from “Go West My Son”, one of the first episodes of Only Fools and Horses), here’s a few “behind the scenes” pictures instead. If you are really interested in reading my match report then go wild here.