One year ago today, looking to diversify in my writing life, I started a blog. It was one of those things I thought I might devote the odd hour or so to, every other day, while plugging away at the bread and butter stuff. It’d be a change as good as a rest, it seemed to me – a chance to write for my own pleasure about a variety of things which exercised me on a regular basis, chief among them Leeds United AFC. I’d stick in a few of my lefty political rants too, I mused, stuff that hadn’t found its target elsewhere, but stuff I still wanted to say – and have people read if possible. And I figured that, as I was just doing it for fun, I could quietly drop it if the going got tough, or if it got in the way of anything important. I truly didn’t realise how it would grow through this first year, and now I think I’m stuck with it. It’s still a labour of love, but it shows all the signs of becoming far more than that; for the time being, I’m content to go wherever it leads me.
I thought I’d nick a title from one of my heroes, the late, great genius Douglas Adams, and his legendary, superb trilogy of five, “The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy“. So I nabbed a title, inserted Leeds United to make it mine, and there I was. For the first few months I wrote away happily but fairly occasionally, not paying too much attention to readership, or viewing figures. It toddled along quite nicely, my infant blog, entertaining me if not many others. Then it got picked up by the “NewsNow” news aggregator – and the numbers went through the roof.
By the end of August, I’d had a total of 13,000 views in eight and a half months. Now it’s a gnat’s whisker under 400,000. Just yesterday I wrote an article which, by itself, has attracted over 30,000 readers in 24 hours. To say the blog has grown is hopelessly to understate the case. It’s surpassed my expectations many times over. In this, I’m lucky to be writing primarily about Leeds United, a club that has always generated enormous interest and always will. My sidelines of taking swipes at traditional enemies have extended my readership among fans of other clubs. It’s been, in short, a very encouraging first year – particularly the time since late August when I was fortunate enough to see the reach of the thing extend to the entire globe.
The upside of all this has been considerable, for me personally and by implication for my other work – books I have in progress and articles I write elsewhere. There have also been downsides. From the shallow depths of my one year’s experience, I would certainly tell any would-be blogger – go for it, but you’ll need a thick skin and an even temper. The vast majority of the people out there will judge a site on its merits; they have the choice of reading or ignoring it, after all. But you get the odd few who read every word you write and insist on hating every single syllable. They then write in and tell you how useless it is, how you can’t write: “I could of done better than that rubishy nonesense if I could of been arsed” was one of the more literate attempts at scathing critique, selected at random from my Black Museum of rejected feedback.
The best thing, I have found, is to ignore all of this sort of stuff, on the basis that a heckler denied the oxygen of attention will soon burn himself or herself out – still, they can be very persistent, and occasionally I’ve not been able to resist having a bite back. Sometimes I’ll resort to editing a negative comment of particular filth and violence, so that it reads more acceptably and thereby annoys the perpetrator. Whenever I’ve done this, I’ve added the response “It’s good to be King”, just to distinguish the contributions I’ve tampered with. Only today this so enraged some petulant herbert that he threatened to “slash me with a nife (sic)” if he ever saw me around LS11 – and of course he may well see me – if he ever goes to games. I mention that merely to illustrate the phenomenon of the tantrum-prone troll – it’s not really much of a problem, more a mild irritation and, as I’ve said – best ignored. The one thing that these types have in common beyond appalling literacy skills is their essential cowardice – they strike from behind the shield of anonymity and will not emerge into the daylight of honesty and accountability. It takes all sorts, I suppose – but what a futile existence.
I’m confident now that this blog will continue to grow, and to assist and support my other endeavours. It’s provided a platform of sorts, for which I’m very grateful – and by far the greater part of the feedback has been positive, constructive, thought provoking and intensely rewarding. It’s emphasised for me as well just how incredibly passionate the fans of Leeds United are; how much anything to do with our great club is seized upon eagerly by voracious readers with an endless appetite for all things Leeds. I can certainly relate to that, so it’s extremely fulfilling for me to be able to contribute, in some small measure, to the massive body of work out there surrounding the ups and downs of the Mighty Whites of Elland Road. It will continue to be my pleasure and privilege to do this, and I hope to see this site continue to thrive, to grow and to spread the Leeds United word even further and even wider.
To all of those who have read anything I’ve written this past year – thank you. I hope you’ll keep reading. I’d be grateful if those readers could spread the word, follow the blog, share it among their Leeds fanatic friends. If you want to buy the blog half a bitter for its birthday, you can even do that – there’s a donations link over to the left. Seriously, every little helps, whether it’s a quid or a buck or a share or follow – and there’ll be much more to come from Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything as the next year rolls by – hopefully a year of great progress for our club as all the signs are that we may be on the verge of an exciting new era and headed unstoppably for the big time again. It’s been far too long, but you can’t keep a good club down, never mind a great one like Leeds. I’ll look forward to charting our progress, being supportive, showing incredible bias of a totally non-journalistic flavour and perhaps criticising when it seems appropriate.
Every time anyone clicks on an article in this blog, it means such a lot to me, just as every time Leeds United take a step forward it means such a massive amount to every one of us fanatics out here. The next year should be one of continued growth and improvement here on this humble blog and much more importantly there at Elland Road where the stars and heroes do their best to make the dreams we dare to dream come true. Marching On Together, we can all look forward confidently to better times ahead.