Online forums (or fora as they probably should be called when you don’t mind sounding like a wanker) are famous for being the sewers of the internet. They are places where, like a wild frontier, the only laws that apply are the laws of the jungle. You can get away with just about anything from the comfort of your mother’s basement by virtue of your anonymous handle.
Like most things, there are plusses and minuses associated with this.
The biggest minus is the brutality of it. Personal attacks are rife with keyboard warriors chucking insults back and forth that they would never say to a person’s face. Nobody is spared. Not players, coaches, administrators, match officials and especially not other commenters. The Northern League Forum in particular is not a family show, nor a place where most people feel comfortable visiting let alone commenting and inviting such wrath on themselves.
On the other hand, the big plus is that honesty can be good. You get to know what people are really thinking but wouldn’t otherwise say out loud. It can give you a sense of what is going on behind the scenes, provided you take it with a truckload of salt.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could have the best of both worlds? How can we enjoy the plusses of online forums without having to endure the nastiness?
I’m glad you asked, for I have a plan!
Once a month I will read the Northern League Forum and it’s moderately more civilised cousin Yellow Fever. I will sift through the bile and summarise the interesting stuff for your reading pleasure. That’s the plan anyway. We’ll see how we go.
On both the Women’s Premier and Division 2 sections of the Northern League Forum, a favourite topic of conversation for, oooooooh, about a hundred years now, has been the underperformance of Fencibles United. A group of dissatisfied club people love nothing more than taking anonymous pot-shots at the chairman and coaching staff. The latest setback being lamented is the women’s first team losing to “Eastern Suburbs (school girls)” 6-1 at home. Perennial malcontent ‘redandblue’ had this to say:
“Let’s remember though that our illustrious all knowing… Chairman… overruled all and reappointed the coach against the views of others involved. He also turned away a very good league winning coach.”
I understand that league winning coach was Rico Wilson, formerly at Eastern Suburbs and now at Western Springs.
Manukau City have also been under fire for fielding a player against Fencibles who was red carded in the game before. Or was he? Some commenters suggested that the referee had a change of heart after the game and decided to put the red card through the system as a yellow. As ‘Gregmalin’ pointed out:
“You are quite right every team does know that if red carded you don’t play the next week. However every team also knows it’s at the referees discretion whether he feels the red card was justified and on this occasion it went in Manukau’s favour. Who in their right mind wouldn’t play somebody if given the all clear, this is football play to your strengths this isn’t a game of morals. You play to win and it seems they did.”
But ‘D B…..’ had a different view:
“No Gregmalin any club would not play their striker under those circumstances and the difference being – not all clubs are cheats and dirty players like Manukau.”
Ngaruawahia United have also been the source of some controversy after they defaulted their game against North Shore last week due to confusion over scheduling. They said that according to the draw they were given the game was set down for Saturday, but according to the Shorians it had always been Sunday as most games at ‘The Hill’ are. ‘Snowy’ posed the $32,000 question:
“So which fixture to take as gospel? The “final” draw as sent out by the AFF or their website? If upon receiving a draw from AFF is it then a volunteer club’s obligation to chase up with a paid organisation as to whether the information received from them is correct?”
In the Premier Division section, the old chestnut of players being paid is rearing its ugly head once again. This time in relation to Birkenhead United who have always insisted that they are one of the clubs who don’t splash money around. To which ‘Green and white army’ had this to say:
“…please, please do not come on here and say that Birko has no money – couldn’t pay their power bill blah blah blah it’s all crap. They have plenty of money and pay their players what they want. Just ask yourself one question – Would Adam Dickinson or Chad Coombes come to play in Beach Haven for love? Of course not. Why is it that everyone accepts and agrees that Glenfield pay a fortune (which, by the way, is denied by the club president) even though there is absolutely no proof! But will not accept that Birkenhead do a similar thing?”
‘ZG’ had this nice little dose of reality to contribute to the discussion:
“Of course clubs will deny what they pay their players. There are pretty strict rules on what a non-professional sporting club can pay players while still applying for and being approved for community grants and government funding. Eventually DIA or IRD might have a sniff around but it would be highly unlikely a club president would front up.. I reckon most clubs would be paying players something – it would be a minority that don’t and each to their own – if they can afford it then does it matter? And the whole argument about getting nothing back for your investment – I reckon it shows that the Northern League still means a hell of a lot to a lot of people.”
The Women’s Premier forum often seems to be mostly frequented by parents of players with an axe to grind. But a good question was raised in light of the changes with the men’s Under 20 and Under 17 coaching staff who have been let go recently in a series of moves that had the look of a purge about them. They were explained by All White coach Anthony Hudson as ‘aligning the age-group coaches with the national team’. This prompted ‘Marshalls in then’ to ask:
“To Quote Mr Hudson if we’re “ALIGNING” the coaches who are the next in line for Ferns, Middle Ferns and the New/Little Ferns coming through??”
It’s an interesting point. If the men’s age group teams need alignment with the All Whites, should the equivalent women’s teams all be aligned with the Ferns and/or should they be ‘aligned’ with the All Whites as well?
The Chatham Cup draw has been, in the surprise of the century so far, a topic for conspiracy theories. Unfortunately New Zealand Football didn’t help themselves in this regard by accidentally publishing part of the draw, then ‘conducting the draw’ on Twitter which was identical to the one published earlier. Oops. On the Yellow Fever Forum, regular voice of reason ‘Chopah’ said:
“I don’t so much care on the platform but I just wish they would be transparent about the draw – nothing really gives you that like televised coverage, but they would get the benefit of the doubt and be able to do it on twitter if they had any kind of reputation of honesty.”
There’s nothing that online forums do better than transfer speculation. The list of players fans want to target slowly makes its way to Cloud Cuckoo Land as people post various formations that include Christiano Ronaldo up front and their favourite player from FIFA 15 in the midfield. The Yellow Fever version of this is only just getting started as people look for solutions to the expected losses of players like Kenny Cunningham and Michael Boxhall. I liked this thoughtful comment from ‘Jeff Vader’ seeking to, if I understand him correctly, tease out what sort of tactics are needed before we start putting names beside them:
“The key for Ernie is to keep the focus on the main style cause it works. He is also generally viewed as being good in game at adjusting the tactics. What I would like to do is in further advancement of the team, is to see him a genuine plan B for when teams lock us up. What the plan B is, I don’t know. I don’t think its hoofing aerial balls into the box Ricki style though so would be interested in what Ernie thinks, and others think that an alternative playing style would be for when teams bus park cause thats the style we struggle to play against.”
Meanwhile, ‘Cordwainer Bull’ had this observation to make regarding Auckland City FC’s victory on penalties in the O-League final:
“The match needed a more authoritative ref. There was a spiral of cynical fouls, and from my view Wellington were by far the worst culprits. With Bale, Gwyther, Peverley, Lovemore, Feneridis, Hogg, there was a strong psycho-nutter core. Kind of a relief we won’t be exporting that to the world stage. New Zealand have certainly lost the moral high ground in any future complaints about Oceania mayhem.”
Of course, this week no look at the Yellow Fever forum could be complete without sifting through some of the comments following Sunday night’s Finals Series exit. Somewhat unfathomably to me, there are some who appear to be speculating that perhaps Ernie Merrick isn’t that much chop and asking themselves if Ricki Herbert would have done better with this squad! In response to a comment form ‘Leggy’ that “Ernie has done wonders with the team this season and I think he deserves a lot of credit. This time last year we were last”, ‘martinb’ wrote:
“I wanted to ‘this’ this, but I thought about how I’ve felt messed around as a fan for the last couple of months and I can’t quite bring myself to say that Ernie’s wonders shouldn’t be balanced out by our poor options, odd selections and poor individual and team performances. I mean, if Ricki was still here and starting Lia in an elimination final, I imagine there would be a few choice words. That said, I feel I must rescind my post game anger and the suggestion he should pack his bags. Still it would have been interesting to see what Ricki would have got out of this squad, apart from a fair few more cards over the season, you’d think!”
The ‘Whatever!’ Award:
This is the regular prize that goes to the comment that makes you roll your eyes the most. ‘Ryan54’ on the Yellow Fever forum edges it with this reaction to the Phoenix performance…
“Andrew Durante was slumped over there. He does a really good job pretending he cares about the result, given that he clearly doesn’t.”
Best Bite Back:
‘Cordwainer Bull’ gave one of the better bollockings you will see to a commenter who questioned his observations above and how they might affect his son who plays with some of the Team Welly boys at Glenfield. The tension had already been building from an earlier thread about the change in the U17 national coaching team, but it was here that it turned nuclear:
“heyref, from what you contribute here I imagine you’re only 11 or 12, so perhaps I should give you the benefit… My son is a grown adult and get this – we are two seperate people with our own thoughts and ideas. Radical, huh? Yes, I am critical of the nutbar on-field behaviour of some players in that match last night. I believe the on-field conduct of players is a valid subject for comment, particularly given the matches are televised live, and I have characterised some of the offending players as “psycho”. I’ve generally found it a good discipline to put my name to such comments. The stronger your comments, the more transparent you need to be, in fairness to those you are having a pop at, rather than hide behind a moniker. Being a journalist is neither here nor there. I post here as an equal of everyone, with no advantages, and no fetters. Bit rich of you to bemoan what you think is personal attack, given your track record, where, rather than discuss the issue of the day, you seem to want to personalise matters to me. Don’t know why you bother, but hope you grow up and stop detracting from forum discussions with your small minded tattle. Hope this helps.”
I think that’s enough for a first pass! Until next time…
Categories: Around The Forums
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.