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Reading Fan
Join date : 2013-03-07
Location : Spain - England
Posts : 804
EFF Credits : 12482
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Club forums are a haven for football fans Empty Club forums are a haven for football fans

Sun 29 Jul 2018, 11:07 am
I was very pleased to read this article, after having good and bad (mostly good) experiences on over 60 football forums up and down the country:

Club forums are a haven for football fans in an ever angrier online world

Whereas YouTube and Twitter amplify rants, club forums offer kinship, humour and a place to open up to like-minded people

Earlier this year a Brighton fan who uses the pseudonym Last Summer posted to the web forum North Stand Chat. It was one of the 50 or so new discussions started on there by a supporter every day and one of hundreds of posts he had contributed over the last decade. “Apologies for the Mumsnet-type thread,” he began as he calmly explained that he and his wife had split up after 14 years together and he was in need of advice from fellow fans. “Hurts like hell at the moment and the thought of now having to live my life without her is destroying me,” he wrote, before adding: “There’s loads of advice and stuff online that I could Google – but they ain’t Brighton.”

And he was right. Over the next few days dozens of men – and it was all men – took the opportunity to publish at length, and in many private messages, about how they had coped after going through a divorce. Some posters shared practical financial advice, tips on maintaining relationships with their children and how to avoid conflict with a former partner. But most, perhaps encouraged by the support that was forthcoming and the friendly environment, were confident enough to share intimate and honest details about how they felt and how their mental health had been affected then and now. The original poster came back online later to thank the contributors to the thread.

Online football forums seemingly had their day a decade ago. The BBC’s now forgotten 606, a spin-off from the weekly radio show, was at one point the biggest football website in the UK. It introduced millions of fans to the universal chatroom tropes: text-fuelled delusion, relentless – and often hilarious – baiting of rivals and enemies, and terrible transfer rumours. But over time the firm grip of abuse, legal threats and apathy killed most of them off.

Gradually fans migrated to the more powerful yet sanitised tools of Facebook to organise protests and amplify dissent. Twitter provided a new home for humour and, more often, anger – this time directed personally at naive players. Cheap tech such as smartphones combined with YouTube’s reach meant the swearfests of fan TV and vlogs attracted younger supporters.

Brighton too have a thriving fan-powered media ecosystem of podcasts, blogs and zines. Yet North Stand Chat is still standing. A largely text-based forum, it remains part of the daily online routine for thousands of mostly older Albion fans. Its authenticity helps; it emerged out of the fanzine culture and pre-broadband email lists of the late 1990s, and many of the veteran posters were present throughout the Seagulls’ “war years”.
It’s also well run. Lifelong Albion fan Darren Mckay has been in charge for 15 years. Known to posters as Bozza, he organises a group of volunteer moderators who strive to keep it safe and free from legal interference. Well-trafficked websites are expensive to maintain and the forum racks up thousands per year in hosting costs, which it funds through minimal non-intrusive advertising. Any profits go to a range of Albion charities.
But what makes NSC is the people who use it: lawyers, police officers, teachers, car mechanics, plumbers and even a football finance academic. The Brighton CEO, Paul Barber, cannot quite be persuaded to register on the site, but he is prone to writing numerous 1,000-word emails in response to any manner of issues about ticketing, transport and transfers raised by fans, which then end up being published in full for all to read. Their frequent arrival and patient deconstructing of arguments is met with typical NSC humour – the use of the tag #BarberOut to describe any minor petty issue with the club. But Barber acknowledges the role the forum gives him as a platform to communicate directly with fans.

In short, it’s still there because it has become vital to Albion fans for talking about what affects them. Increasingly these days that involves the worries of middle-age such as diets, depression and, sadly, paying tribute to posters who have died, rather than merely football or the club.

Journalist and regular poster Nick Szczepanik sums it up: “It’s the go-to resource for everything. If I want to know what the roads are like before setting off on a journey, I’ll check NSC rather than the AA website, because if there’s a hold-up between Lancing and Worthing, NSC will tell me exactly where, how long it’s been going on, alternative routes, whose fault it is and whether the underlying cause is Corbyn, Brexit or Palace.”

Last summer’s “FAO Divorced of NSC” thread eventually faded off the site’s front page and was replaced by more mundane discussions about buying treadmill machines, what people were drinking on their Friday nights and even the odd row about Chris Hughton’s defensive tactics. One of the last users to post, reflecting on the depth and quality of advice and painful anecdotes shared to help the recently divorced contributor, urged him to stay positive: “You’d be surprised by the love you get from unexpected places.”

Original link: https://www.theguardian.com/football/when-saturday-comes-blog/2018/jul/27/football-fans-internet-club-forums-twitter-youtube-facebook

A friendly Reading FC fan! CELLO MAN - web www.johnstone-music.com 
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