First off, some history. I played football for 13 years and created, managed and updated the website for 11. There have been 5 versions of the site in that time. Version 3 was dull and fairly bland being a white background with light blue bordered rectangles containing the website's content. This was because it designed by trying to please everyone. Various players and committee members had said what they liked and didn't like about version 2 and other websites so that was my very brief brief.
It was a terrible thing to see and the perfect example of compromise pleasing no-one so after the year was finished, I set about redesigning it. I asked the committee for what they wanted for version 4 but got nothing back other than "version 3 sucks". So I made a site which was much bolder and screamed "this is an American football website" which version 3 (and every other football team's website) didn't.
It was vaguely cartoony with down markers as the menus on the left and right and a field of grass at the bottom. I'd consulted with one other person to get an alternative viewpoint and we were both happy that the site was bold, memorable (for good reasons) and football related. Version 4 existed for a year, no-one ever said anything negative to me about it. The only comments received were that it was much better than the previous version and seemed well liked.
Domain renewal 1
With everything apparently fine, I renewed the registration of the domain name in Christmas 2011 as I'd done every two years since originally registering the domain name. Once done I posted a message saying as much on Facebook which got replies asking "Why?" and "Did you speak to anyone on the committee about it?" This was unusual as no-one from the club had ever really shown any interest in the website other than we had one and it didn't look dull.
Turns out that the committee had decided they didn't like the site and instead of telling me as much, they'd registered another domain name and linked it to an off-the-shelf site.
This had been done in case I decided to wreck the website in a fit of pique at their criticism, despite the fact I'd never shown any inclination to be precious about the design of the site, some of the things said about version 3 bordered on the obscene. That the first and only thing the committee thought was that I'd throw my toys out of the pram says more about them and their predilections, than me and mine I feel.
No matter how I pointed out I was angry that they'd gone behind my back and hadn't considered just talking to me, all they kept on about was that they thought I was angry because they didn't like the site's design. I reiterate this for them now, I was not angry that you didn't like the design, I was angry by the way you didn't tell me to my face and then went behind my back to sneak a new website because you thought I'd deliberately break mine. After knowing people for a decade and never giving any indication that I'd do such a thing, that you think I'd do something like that says more about your thought processes than mine.
Eventually they decided they'd let "let" me try updating the design using the colour scheme from the off-the-shelf colour scheme. I changed version 4 to version 5 in 30 minutes, no muss, no fuss and nothing was ever mentioned about this again.
I'd been asked if I could transfer the domain name to the club, but when I pointed out the club doesn't have an address and it'd have to be at someone's house under their name, it may as well be mine as I maintained the site. Eventually they stopped asking about it. It occurs to me now, they'd been trying to get me out of the way for a while, though why not just tell me to go, I don't know. I'm still not sure what I did to deserve all this. What did I do that meant they wanted me gone and in such an underhand manner?
Domain renewal 2
I received the domain renewal notice in October 2013 as expected for the following 14th January and, remembering last time this happened, I contacted the committee by email, text and Facebook to tell them that the renewal was due. Hearing nothing I kept asking for guidance and received none. Eventually the domain name expired 3 months later on 14th January 2014. I received a message on 22nd January via Facebook telling me to renew the domain name, at which point it was too late as it had lapsed.
I use uptimerobot to let me know if the website wasn't working for any reason and 10 minutes after the website went offline at 11am I got a phone call from a committee member. This person then rang my phone continually all day. That phone continued to be rang all day, every day for over a week all from the same number. I only found this out when I glanced at my old phone which I use as an alarm clock and which they'd been calling all that time.
I'd had a new phone number 3 years previously, I'd called and texted and received calls and texts on that number from the number on the other phone as well as most of the committee and team. They'd got no other way of contacting me than a 3 year old number I suppose apart from any of 30 email addresses, Twitter, Google+ or the number I'd been using for 3 years all of which had been used to talk to various people at one point or another. My Facebook account was hacked and killed off by Facebook at about the same time, so they couldn't contact me that way, they only had the option of every other social media outlet or the number I’d been using for 3 years.
Why didn't I call them back? I guess I wanted to see how long they'd bother trying to get in touch or if they'd use any of the other many, many, many ways of contacting me that hadn't died 3 years previously.
Something which made me less inclined to be as helpful as I could have been involves the team's Twitter feed. I created it to be used to improve the website's search engine ranking. I'd had it for a few years when someone volunteered to do some marketing work and wanted access to it, so I gave them the login details. Next thing I know, the password has been changed and I've been locked out because the marketing individual said he wanted "a password I can remember".
An odd thing when the password was "football". It took some convincing and time to get access to it again. The implication from the messages I got about it was that the committee weren't happy me having access to the Twitter feed that for 5 years no-one had cared about. More trying to get me away from the club's online presence.
New site and professionalism
The complaint about version 4 was that "it isn't professional looking" which is an interesting viewpoint especially when you look at the replacement site that has been set up. Apparently "professional looking" is no longer a requirement. Me being snarky about my replacement? Not in the slightest, go look at it and check out the professionalism on display. The bizarre, broken layout, the childish design, the number of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. See for yourself, these are undoctored screen snips that show how important a professional looking site now is.
"He's only doing it in his spare time" ? So was I.
You see where I'm going with all this? Everything about the online world I'd been looking after for 10 years with no-one caring much about what went on and all of a sudden they'd just decided they wanted me gone from the club and the website. All they had to do was say so but for some reason they didn't they kept doing weird underhand, sneaky stuff.
Eventually someone visited the house I'd not lived in for 7 years (no idea where they got that address from) who pointed them at my new address. When I got a knock on the door I pointed out to him I'd given them 4 months to sort out the domain renewal, it was too late now and the domain name was gone, all I got in reply was "I've ordered some flyers with the web address on them that cost £300" he didn't care about anything but the money he'd shelled out for the team. Well here are some counter costs
- Domain renewal per year £50
- Hosting fees per year £120
Which means I've spent about £1870 in total on the team site and no-one ever, once said anything about what money was being spent on it or where it came from.
That doesn't include the time I spent developing, editing, writing the copy, taking and editing photo's, entering the stats or the SEO work I did for the site which no-one ever noticed. I was asked to put an admin section on the site so other people could edit things. I did this, 4 people never used the log in, 3 people used it twice and the marketing individual used it on occasion. Every time he went on, I had to go on and fix the spelling and grammar errors.
For some reason, this domain is still here, working and I've got access to it, I don't know how or why, I didn't do a renewal and didn't realise it still worked until I got a renewal request email from the names provider the other day. Is that I've done this confirming their deepest fears, possibly, but the catharsis of it feels good. That people I'd known and considered friends for a decade can show so little consideration, people I've drank with and fought for, people I've helped and laughed with and not a single one of them has contacted me about all this in the last 9 months says all I think I need to about the kind of people they are.
Which brings me to the other peculiarity, my radical approach to the following being the only reason I can think of for my shabby treatment.
In the 2012 season I went to 3 games, in those 3 games there were 5 cornerbacks, 3 who'd been to training and knew the playbook and 2 others who'd possibly been to training once. The latter two were favourites of the coaches and got all but 8 of the defensive plays in those 3 games, no matter how many mistakes they made either in knowing where they were supposed to be or actually making plays.
The following are the excuses that have been given for this kind of thing over the years :-
- "the game's close"
- "we're too far behind"
- "we need to build a score for the points difference"
so that pretty much covers all the bases then. At the end of the game in what's lovingly referred to as "garbage time" with 30 seconds left, sometimes they let the other people on.
It's a different tune when it's a long road game or summer holiday season when people are away on holiday and numbers are short though it'd be nice if, after getting next to no real game time, the lack of experience was taken into account. What do I mean by that? Game 7 in July, the only 2 corners available have had 3 garbage time plays between them in the previous 6 games. The lack of game experience shows through, they make mistakes, they don't read the game like an experienced player. The comments of "they're hopeless, we're half way through the season and they still suck" and similar disparaging remarks echo around the sideline.
What do you expect? They're held to an ideal they can't achieve. "They've played in 6 games now and they're still awful" is the cry. No, they've been to 6 games and watched from the sidelines. Standing on the sidelines is not playing, it's standing, that is why they're still awful. That there's no depth to the player roster and when your "best" ones aren't there the alternatives are rubbish is a coaching problem, not the individual player's problem.
When everyone is back from holiday, the favourites go back on because the alternatives "have shown how bad they are" which compounds the problem.
Look at the number of people who come (note, I don't say play) for one year. Sure, some finish because they find football isn't for them, most finish because they're tired of paying to stand in a field and watch others play. I've met enough ex-"players" and enough people said this is the reason they wouldn't be here next week to know the truth of this. I'd pointed it out which may be why all this stuff has been happening.
I met one of the cornerbacks who used to play for us in a pub in Newcastle and he said he felt guilty because he'd not gone to training, went to the games and was on for most of the game because he was favourites with a coach. What defines a favourite? It's not necessarily actual skills but it does immunise them if they make a mistake.
How does one get to be a coaches favourite? Don't know, but despite the protestation "I try to get everyone on the field" the evidence isn't there to back it up. Are the favourites the best players? Yes, whether they are the naturally best players or not, but it certainly helps that they get the on-field experience. Are there players on the sidelines who have the potential to be better? Possibly, we'll never know as they're standing around cold and bored.
Is this just about me? Am I doing this because I didn't get the playing time I think I deserve? No, there have been so many people who came down to training and the games, saw what was happening and left, I was just too dumb to realise this was how the system worked, the others who just came for a season or part of a season were just smarter.
Pay to play
Are some people better than others (at different things)? Yes. Does that give an organisation the right to take money from the less able to fund the hobby of the more able? I'd go with no.
There's a debate I've seen on various football forums and I've heard in the bar after games, should everyone who pays money get to play? Me, I think that if you know someone is never going to be good enough to play in a game, you don't take their money.
Forum conversations on the league's various website over the years have been quite shocking in the number of teams who took people's money knowing they were never going to let them play, they "just keep telling them they'll get on eventually" or some such. I'm not a legal expert but I'm fairly sure that's "obtaining money under false pretences" and if I'd got a recording of what I've overheard when people have said such things in my presence, it'd be on here for you to listen to.
What do I think? I think that if you pay £250 a year to a club, £400 on kit not to mention whatever travelling costs to go to games, you should all get equal game time. Otherwise you're paying for other's to enjoy themselves while you watch them. That teams rely financially on people who they know they're not going to let play is for the conscience of each team's management and coaches to consider.
I know that this will be misunderstood and it will be seen as me moaning about me not getting playing time the same way that they missed the point about the website design critique, so I'll spell it out, this is a general point that all people spending money and time on an amateur sport should get something out of it, not just a select few.
In the end
Is putting this message on the dead site petty? Yes.
Will it change anything? No.
Have I wasted my time? No, it's good to finally get all this off my chest
Is any other team in the league better or do they have a different outlook? Not from the conversations I've had and the forum posts I've read.
What's the point in doing this then?
- I'm hoping they finally understand why I was angry with the website critique, it was that they went behind my back instead of talking to me
- exactly the same way, this is not about me not getting playing time, this is about everyone not getting playing time
- if they'd wanted me gone, they just had to ask, not go through all the palaver of sneaking the Twitter feed away and talking about a professional websites when it's obvious not needed
- I don't want anyone else standing in a field with little chance of getting on the field and not considering that they're wasting their time and money
Am I after a reaction from them? No, this website has dropped down the search rankings as I've stopped doing anything with it and I expect no-one to ever read it. This page is just here so I know I've said it. Though I would like to know what I did that made all this necessary, but only for curiosity's sake I don't expect I'll ever get a coherent answer.
If anyone wants to talk about this you know how to get in touch...okay, maybe not.