|The Width of A Post writing team: (L-R) Jason, Mahesh, Katie and Damien|
Last night, I descended on Manchester with The Width of A Post to attend the Football Blogging Awards, held at the city's National Football Museum. WOAP was in the running for two awards - Best Club Blog and Best Established Blog - and I'd made the ten-strong shortlist for the Best Female Blogger. The nominees were decided purely on a public vote - and this article is a thank you to every single person who backed us.
I'm not going to lie: it was gutting to leave empty-handed. I was deservedly beaten by the excellent Yes, I Can Explain The Offside Rule and the LiverBird blog, while WOAP was pipped to the, err, post by sites from Coventry City, Spurs, Aston Villa and the FootballFancast. But we had a fantastic night - sharing a table with my fellow WOAP writers, meeting some of them for the first time, was brilliant, and I loved chatting to Jason, Mahesh and Damien about all things Bradford City. The fleeting look around the museum's epic collection was also a highlight, and they've accumulated a stunning plethora of memrobilia and trophies: housed in a glass display cabinet is the infamous Liverpool beach ball from Darren Bent's dubious Sunderland goal, and the giant Michael Jackson statue that formerly guarded Craven Cottage was relocated to the museum earlier this year. If you ever get the chance to go there, go - there's so much more we didn't see, and it's certainly worth the trip.
Moreover, merely being there represented a great night for Width of A Post and me. 60,000 votes were cast. Over 1,000 blogs were nominated, from more than 25 countries. To be competing against some of the real heavyweights of the blogging sphere - writers that cover the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Manchester United and Manchester City - says it all, and I'm so proud and thankful that, in our own small way, we got to fly the flag for the Football League at one of the UK's premier blogging events. That we got that opportunity is down to you, our readers - Bradford City's uniquely dedicated fanbase. The recognition the Football Blogging Awards offers is priceless - congratulations, in particular, to Coventry City's Sky Blues blog, who beat us in the Best Club category.
I cringe at some of my old blog posts and articles, and there's no doubt running a blog can be stressful - I've no idea how Jason manages WOAP as expertly as he does, and the time he sacrifices to make the site what it is can never be understated - but what starting a blog has given me is confidence, an escape from that perpetual state of limbo that comes with being a teenager, a chance to become a better writer - and memories that will last a lifetime. Interviewing Stephen Darby and Gary Jones in the beer garden of the Shoulder of Mutton, ahead of the play-off final, was the perfect way to cap-off the We Made History season, as awkward as my interview technique may have been; work experience at Radio Leeds, shadowing the journalists at City's press conference, felt like the ultimate competition prize. Being approached by Tom and Dom to front a segment of their Bradford City West Yorkshire Sport show was another huge boost. Meeting Darby again at the curry night last week, and him asking me questions about my blog, was surreal. Last night was another one to add to a list that, I hope, can get longer.
Things like that, as little as they might appear to be, make all the toil worthwhile. Juggling football with the other parts of my life is difficult, and reporting on the Doncaster game last week was a struggle having not been to Valley Parade for weeks. Writing my goodbye to Gary Jones was more frustrating than it was cathartic, as it felt nothing I penned was doing him justice. I was anxious about it going live, but the piece's reception was overwhelming and, for me, among the most touching feedback I've ever received. The fact Jones even read it, and sent me a message to thank me, felt like the perfect end to that era.
Because that's what this is all about - history. Every article we write is our conception of a period, a moment, a minute, that moved us or touched us or angered us or inspired us in some way. Reading WOAP's excellent League Cup coverage takes you right back to those heady nights; Bantams Banter's podcasts, too - nerves on a knife edge and praying 'impossible' would shake its prefix. I've only been writing for Jason's site a short while, but if any of the articles I've submitted have become as timeless as those, I'll be happy.
That miracle season was unprecedented for Bradford City, and seeing my pseudonym in lights was unpredented for me, too. This site has taken a back seat as I've become more involved with WOAP - a platform I prefer, in all honesty - and, though 'Bantams Blogger the website' will stay live, it may be abandoned in the coming months as I move to work solely with Jason. There's also the question of university, and whether City will continue to be such a huge part of my life as I move on to the next stage of my education. The future's shrouded in uncertainty, but that doesn't take away the past.
All that remains to be said is thank you. Thank you to Tom and Dom, the Bantams Banter boys, for their ongoing support. Thank you to Jason, whose mentoring has been invaluable to me - thank you for creating Width of A Post, and putting in so much of your own time, unpaid, to help writers like me grow and get noticed. And thank you to you, the reader - not just for getting me to Manchester, but for all your support. Thank you for taking the time to read my articles, write comments, spur me on and encourage me. Truthfully, I started blogging on a whim, and never thought about what it would lead to, where it would go. I never expected to write alongside Jason and his team, and I'm honoured to collaborate with Width of A Post. I'm sorry I couldn't do you proud and clean up yesterday, but thank you nonetheless.
I'll be on Gillingham match report duty a few weeks from now (for WOAP), and you can read my most recent piece, a report from the Doncaster game, here, if you wish. Alternatively, scroll down to see some of the pictures from yesterday's ceremony.
|Jason and Katie|
|My name in lights|
|Not a Bad exhibit to have, even if getting rid of it was Dangerous for Fulham|