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Coastal setting up for a free kick

The web is in the process of replacing newspapers and magazines as the first port of call for football journalism and it’s easy to see why. There is so much variety out there. You are no longer doomed to read solely about clubs that are the most popular and hence sell best at the newsagents. Now you can choose to read only about Manchester United or AC Milan. Or you can read in depth about literally any club you like, right down to non-league clubs, almost anywhere in the world. Needless to say, a comprehensive list of all the sites out there that are worth reading doesn’t exist – there are far too many of them.

What type of links should be included in a links section is something I’m not sure many bloggers put a great deal of thought into. Some seem to shovel in anything and everything remotely relevant to their topic. Some seem to take a reciprocal approach: ‘if you link to me, I’ll link to you’. Instead, I want to provide you with what I hope to find when I click through to other blogs’ links pages. That is, to be presented with a selection of tangents for me to go off on. Pathways to undiscovered treasures that lead off into the wilderness. I want to click, see something interesting, find more links, click again and journey away into a new and different world.

The sitess I read regularly are a somewhat eclectic mix. Not all of them are about football. But there is, I think, a common theme – good writing. Good writing must be treasured – because there’s not that much of it out there. In my opinion, the perfect blog post should be like a museum piece. Something people would pay to go along and see placed on a pedestal, alone in the middle of a stark white room. Perfectly crafted, perfectly presented. Each word chosen carefully and fitting well with those around it, providing the reader with a smooth flow. Capturing the imagination with the first sentence and holding it through to the last.

I don’t pretend for a minute that I reach this standard myself, or that all those listed below do so consistently either. But it is a standard I aspire to and one that many of those below do too in one way or another, be it consciously or subconsciously.

I hope you enjoy reading them…

At the end of the day……. – The original grassroots New Zealand football blog! No longer being updated but still a real treat for lovers of lower league football. About the trials and tribulations of a wee club called Wainuiomata AFC, an authentic insight into the romantic yet unglamorous world of New Zealand club football.

Blogistuta – Very well written A.S. Roma blog. A must read for Romanisti.

Cerebral Soccer – A fascinating collection of playing and coaching memories, thoughts on player pedagogical and behavioral psychology, along with, I kid you not, existentialist football philosophy! All from the very cerebral New Zealand football stalwart Maurice Tillotson.

Football Italia – The absolute authority on all things Serie A. Used to be a truly wonderful magazine, but suffered the familiar demise of print. Thankfully still going strong online.

Footballnumbersblog – An in depth look at New Zealand football for the stats nerds amongst us! My 18% in School Certificate maths is well and truly put to shame by the analysis on display here.

Forza27 – A fantastic showcase of classic photographs and a multitude of other visual treats related to AS Roma, along with many other Italian teams .

Guardian 100 football blogs – This is where I discovered a lot of the blogs on this list. So much great reading. So few hours in the day…

Jazz Local 32 – This is where I go off on a wee bit of a tangent. Ok. A HUGE tangent. But this guy can really write. He makes the local New Zealand Jazz scene sound so intriguing that anyone reading in New Orleans will want to jump on a plane to Auckland.

Milan Obsession – I’m not no fan of AC Milan. No Sir. Not one bit. But I really like this blog. A lot. Which says a great deal about how good it is.

Misera e stupenda città, Rome the Second Time and Rome Photo Blog – These three blogs have nothing to do with football, but are blogs about contemporary Rome. I have always said you need to understand a place before you can understand its football. These blogs are great places to start if you want to understand Roma – Warts and all.

Rinaldi’s Blog – Giancarlo Rinaldi is a beautiful writer who blogs mostly about Fiorentina. Probably my favourite non-Roma blogger.

Roma Journal – An AS Roma group blog by an impressive lineup of talented writers including me. Features La Magicast, the best football podcast you will find anywhere on the net. Not that I’m biased or anything…

Sitter! fanzine – Before football blogs in New Zealand, there was Sitter! Here you will find a rich archive containing the best articles from every issue of Sitter! ever published.

The Ball is Round – A broad range of quality writers focusing on the English game, ranging from the Premier League to amateur football. It has a Nick Hornby kind of atmosphere, which I love. I particularly recommend the ‘My first game’ section. Beautiful.

The Dirty Tackle – These guys let me write for them sometimes. So they must be awesome.

The Journeyfan – An excellent New Zealand football blog with a great mix of grassroots coverage of the game in Wellington, some rich history and some Dundee United!!!

The Matamata Bus – Dormant at the moment but you never know when the key might go back in the ignition… If you like in-the-back-of-the.net, you’ll love The Matamata Bus. Another take on grassroots football in New Zealand’s upper North Island.

The Secret Footballer – The definitive inside word from a current English Premier League player whose identity remains secret. A fascinatingly honest account of life as a professional footballer.

The Ultimate New Zealand Soccer Website – Jeremy Ruane, the curator of this site, brags that “in short, if it’s to do with New Zealand soccer, and you can’t find it here, you don’t need to know about it!!” – He’s not kidding.

This Day in Football History – If you are bored at work or at home and feeling in need of a pick-me-up – here it is. Every day, like clockwork, something interesting and informative to read for a few minutes of brilliant escapism.

Waikato Football Programmes and Muir Park – Lose yourself in the beautiful misery of Waikato Football history. Nothing else I can say here does the awesomeness of these two websites any justice whatsoever. Just go and look at them!

Zonal Marking – The original quintessential football tactics blog. I wish I could say with all honesty that I understand all of it. Or even most of it. But what I can make sense of, I love.

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