First I’ll share the top five most read posts on the blog and say a thing or two about each one. Then I’ll share the five pieces of writing that I liked the best. Then I’ll share my five favourite photographs from the year! Sound good? No? Tough.
Top of the pops:
What makes a blog post popular? From looking at the stats as obsessively as I do, there seems to be a couple of key factors. Giving people information they want certainly helps, as does featuring clubs that are money in the bank every time due to their active fan bases of people who like and share on social media. Those two things are reflected in what was popular with readers both this year and every other year.
The fifth most read post of 2015, (and the 15th most read of all time) was ‘The case for Auckland United’. This post attracted a touch over double the hits received by the next most viewed in this series of guest posts from clubs bidding for the two new ASB Premiership licences. It wasn’t a surprise that this was a popular read. United have always been one of those clubs that sets the stats pumping and this was also the first time they had publically stated their case for inclusion in the ASB Premiership. So this was obviously one of those posts that ticked both of those boxes mentioned above!
Coming in at number four (14th of all time) was my annual pre-NRFL chat to a key figure. This year it was Neil Emblen who I was lucky enough to interview. What a legend he was to talk to. I asked him if I could have 15 minutes, which is about how long these have always taken in the past, but he kept me talking for almost an hour and gave me far more interesting nuggets than I had dreamed I would get!
Number three (12th) was my tribute to the late Steve Gove. I was extremely touched and honoured to be asked by friends of Steve’s to write this piece. I had never written anything like it before and it was both daunting and rewarding getting to both talk to some of the many people he touched, and help them to share their stories with the world.
There’s always at least one exceptional guest post that ranks highly every year and 2015 was no different. We had some pretty high profile guest posters this year too so it was no mean feat for the title of best of them all to be taken out by Matt Hitchcock, who wrote an emotional farewell love letter to Birkenhead United. This was the second most popular post on this blog in 2015 (8th of all time) and it’s easy to see why. In a way it embodies what this blog is all about – a simple love of football and the communities built around it. It’s also worth noting that five of the current twenty most read posts feature Birkenhead United. More than any other club.
The most popular post of 2015 (and 3rd of all time) was no surprise either – this year’s ‘State of the Nation’ Auckland pitch report. This falls squarely into the category of giving people information they want. I know they want it because it has been the most popular post on the blog every year I’ve done one and people surely aren’t reading them for the dynamic storytelling on display! The fun part of putting these together is definitely not the driving around for two days. The fun part is spending the next 8 months or so trying to come up with a suitable Star Wars name for the next year’s effort! Thank goodness they have started making more films is all I can say.
Top of the flops:
Of course, the above is quantitative not qualitative. Just because lots of people viewed those pages doesn’t necessarily mean they all liked what they read! It could be that other posts were looked at by fewer people but enjoyed more by the people who read them. I have no way of knowing if that’s true or not, but I do know there is seldom a correlation between the posts that make me feel satisfied that I have written well and the posts that get the big numbers. And if there’s one thing that popular culture proves to us every day, it’s that popular does not necessarily equal good.
So on that note, here are my top five ‘flops’ in order of how much I liked them:
These days, when I write about New Zealand football at least 500 people will read it. When I write about Roma, I’m lucky if the numbers climb as high as 20! But I don’t care. One of the best things about being an amateur writer is I can write about whatever pleases me. And no football club pleases me more than Roma does. After the Champions League draw that paired us up with Real Madrid in the round of 16, I loved writing a fun comparison of this year’s team with the one that defeated Real Madrid at the same stage in 2008.
Every now and again I try to write something completely tongue in cheek with no attempt made whatsoever to take either the subject matter or myself in any way seriously. You can be the judge of whether or not I pass the humour test – everyone’s sense of humour is different – but whether I do or not, at least I get a bit of fun out of writing the piece in question. I think my best example of this in 2015 was when I took a bit of a cheap shot at the Glenfield/Birko derby.
A real highlight of the year was of course the Under 20 World Cup, hosted here in New Zealand. And while it was a wonderful event, it was important to use the opportunity to highlight that another FIFA event – the 2022 World Cup in Qatar – is being built on the back of slavery and the deaths of workers. It was a huge honour and privilege to get a bit of help with that from NZ Council of Trade Unions President Helen Kelly! Not long after she wrote this guest post it became public that terminal cancer would see her leave her role at the CTU. Despite that, I can’t tell you how much I admire her ability to continue to fight tooth and nail for other people when her own fight for life is so serious. Kia kaha Helen.
I had a few stabs at critiquing the NZ Football competitions review and its outcomes this year. I think the pick of them was ‘Football for hipsters’, which saw me try to come up with something of an alternative vision to the one that the powers that be appear to have bought into. One of the things that I think make this post good is the use of photos of some of the former homes of football juxtaposed with some of the picturesque places that are synonymous with the game in more recent times. Have we gone backwards or forwards over time? It all depends on your point of view.
But my favourite post of 2015 is my most recent and it’s also by far my longest! It has been reasonably popular too which is nice because it kind of puts a myth to bed that people have short attention spans. But the real joy of ‘My favourite year’, a post about WaiBOP United’s season 2014/15, was that it seemed to really touch the people who are mentioned in it and that is the greatest Christmas present I received this year by far.
Top of the shots:
And now to finish off my last post of the year with something visual, here is a quick look at my five favourite photos of the year that also showcase some of 2015’s biggest highlights for me personally.
For the first time in the 92 year history of the Chatham Cup, the draw was conducted by a Roma fan!
They also let me be an accredited photographer at the Under 20 World Cup! Suckers…
No special occasion really. I just LOVE this photo – sue me.
Warkworth defeated Unimount Bohemian Celtic and as a result, their keeper Simon Borich did the pastiest haka ever!
There were FLARES at a New Zealand football ground – Shepherd’s Park – as Birkenhead United and Napier City Rovers walked out for their Chatham Cup quarter-final. Definitely my favourite moment of the year.
And that’s that! See you in 2016. Peace out.
Categories: Other Football Topics
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.