Iain has wisely/foolishly (delete as appropriate) allowed me a regular Sunday column. “What is it going to be about?” I hear you ask (if it isn’t you, just whose voice is that in my head). Well as Iain has also let me have an open brief it will be, let’s say, a mixed bag. A bit of nostalgia, current issues and all places in between.
So join me in gripping the pole at the back of a dodgem and we’ll see where this ride takes us.
Having completed the annual reader survey this week, it got me thinking about this technological world we now inhabit and just how it compares to the not so distant past. In the survey we got to express our opinions, vote on issues regarding the site and the club. Marvellous. Tick your boxes, hit submit and zing, votes cast, opinions submitted, job done. Just another thing you did the day that when I was a kid, even early adulthood would have seemed like a work of science fiction.
I bet that day you pinged off a few emails, checked out the BBC sport app on your smartphone way too many times, ‘liked’ some video of a cat falling off a sideboard on Facebook, forwarded to your friends that slightly off colour joke you received by text, maybe logged on to your bookmaker of choice and ‘had a bang on something’, or checked out if Sullivan minor had tweeted any breaking West Ham transfer news.
And what 80% of us did was log on to this site on that day. Looking for a hit of anything West Ham in the baron wasteland that is the end of season/pre-season break.
Now this is the point where this column splits in two. If you are under 30 it will become a history lesson and over 30 a reminder of times very different.
The launch of Windows 95 (in 1995, who knew) was the spark of us all getting a personal computer in our homes and the internet changing the volume of information we could receive and the speed at which we could access it.
In these modern times in a few clicks you can find out just about anything. When I was growing up in the late seventies and early eighties I had a real thirst for football, and particularly West Ham, information and facts. Without computers and smartphones to get this (and at that time absolutely no concept that would ever happen) I relied like every other boy on the only portals of up to date information which were the daily papers and weekly football magazines.
Shoot! And Match Weekly were devoured feverishly, always hoping with each page turn there would be something West Ham related. If lucky we may get a full page picture of a player to put up on your bedroom wall, or a ‘fact file’ where a player had answered a questionnaire revealing to us their favourite meal was steak, their best film was The Godfather and that they drove a Ford Cortina.
Whatever your family’s choice of daily newspaper you would hurriedly open the sports section the day after a match to read the report on what happened in the game. Why the haste? Well young reader, get this, that was probably the first time you would even be able to find out who scored in the match, let alone any details of gameplay.
No 24 hour sports news channels to view highlights and be fed statistics of ball possession and the number of corners. No apps on your phone alerting you of goals and scorers. And no iffy foreign websites to watch live streams of the game trying to figure out what the Spanish commentary were actually talking about.
What you had could be summed up in one word – nothing. The only time you even saw anything football related on TV would be Match of the Day on a Saturday night, Football Focus on a Saturday lunchtime, and if you were very lucky maybe highlights of a cup game on Sportsnight mid-week.
Younger readers are now saying “Oi old timer, at least you got to catch up on all the weekend action on Match of the Day!”
Well you poor innocents, that was far from the case. In those days Match of the Day could only show highlights of 3 or 4 games, and that had to be spread across the 4 divisions. No goals from every game, just those selected games.
So if West Ham weren’t a featured match that was it. You saw nothing of the game. You could go for a couple of months without seeing a West Ham goal.
So people take a step back and feast upon what you have. You may be reading these words on a PC, tablet or smartphone. Have a look at the device. What can you do to get your West Ham fix? Think of all the websites, blogs and apps you can go to. A constant feed of news, information and opinions.
You could spend all day on YouTube and not see the same West Ham video twice. In 2 weeks you’ll have watched our first game of the season live on TV. You’ll have probably seen more West Ham on TV at full time than I saw in the first 4 months of a season in the not too distant past.
Just this website alone would have changed my younger days completely. We live in a wonderful world of technology and are actually all living out a young boys wildest fantasies of all things West Ham being accessible to one and all.
I’m sure in another 30 years somebody will write a similar piece about how awful it was in 2015 and how much better it is in 2045. How will it be different? I have no idea as in 1985 I could never have imagined what the (and my) world would be like in 2015. But I like it.
Have a good week.