Buon anno and welcome to 2016!
And with that, it’s time to continue my annual tradition of ushering in the New Year by changing up the design of this website. This used to mean that I changed the whole layout to a completely different WordPress theme, but for the past couple of years I have instead opted to simply change the 18 rotating header images to some of my favourite shots from the previous year. I’m continuing to stick to that recipe today.
But before I show you this year’s selections, I thought it might be fun to take a quick stroll down memory lane and see how the look and feel of this place has changed over the past few years.
We pick up our story in 2011, when I first moved over to WordPress from our original Blogspot home.
At that stage, the blog wasn’t necessarily going to be about New Zealand football. I saw myself writing far more about following Serie A than anything else. That’s why the first theme, WordPress’s default ‘Twenty Ten’, was used in conjunction with a photograph of the Curva Nord at Lo Stadio Domenico Francioni – US Latina Calcio’s home ground.
I liked it in part because I thought people would look at it and think it was an Inter crowd. Only cool people would pick up that it was in fact the ultras of my second favourite team in Italy.
Then in 2012, things started to evolve towards the grassroots – but still with an Italian flavour!
The theme is ‘Fruit Shake’ and the header image, used with kind permission from American photographer John Fetcho, is of Butler University converting a penalty in a US College game. The Italian connection? For some reason the ball carries the logo of the FIGC – the Italian FA! Don’t ask me why.
Onwards to 2013 and by then it had become clear what this place was growing into, and the décor reflected that.
The theme is ‘Gridspace’ and the header image is a stylised version of a shot I took when the Football Ferns played China at Centre Park in Mangere in June 2012.
Then in 2014 the idea finally came to me that I should use rotating header images, instead of just the one, in order to give some of my better shots a longer shelf-life.
Here’s what the blog looked like at that point:
And here are all 18 of the 2014 images used:
In 2015, the major design change was the creation of the current site logo:
Which brings us to the sad time when we must wave goodbye to all 18 of the now retired images that served well over the past twelve months!
For 2016, I have started to take proper account of the fact that a huge percentage – over 40% – of people who view this blog are now doing so on mobile phones.
The Kent theme works best on desktop, or a tablet that you can tilt to landscape and view things the way they are designed to be seen, but mobile users have no choice – the header will always be at the top of the page, cutting off the top and bottom of the images.
I have therefore taken particular care this year to not crop so tightly and hopefully use images that will work wherever the header is placed by your browser. Some of the images will be better than others in that regard but at least most of the time things will now look a little better than they did before on your phones!
This year I have also decided to try the ‘unplugged’ look. Most images I routinely publish have been run through photo editing software to sharpen and brighten them. For this year’s headers, cropping aside, 17 out of the 18 are exactly as they came out of the camera. The other image, the shot of Mainland Pride goalkeeper Victoria Esson, has been Photoshopped to move the ball closer to her in order to make the image work. That’s the only enhancement.
To prove I’m not lying, here are the 18 uncropped originals!
And with that, I now declare in-the-back-of-the.net’s 2016 year open! I hope you enjoy it as much as I plan to.
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.