This very day, ten years ago, I sat upstairs in my house in Barcelona. The house with the terraces and the sunshine and the cheap beer and the sunshine and the sunshine and the warmth and the sunshine … sorry, getting a bit wistful here … and I wrote the very first ever post on Arseblog.
Feb 27th 2002 – The A R S E B L O G is born amidst a fanfare of pure silence and a rippling of no applause. Not sure what way this thing is going to go, it has no plan, no direction, no aim, no purpose – simply a tool for me to ramble on about all things Arsenal and maybe some other stuff instead. Anyway, I shall crack on.
Not exactly auspicious, you have to say, but little did I realise that ten years later I’d still be doing this, seven days a week, 365 days a year. The blog was born during a period of unprecedented success, the 2002 double, FA Cup 2003, Invincibles 2004, FA Cup 2005, Champions League final 2006 (I know we lost but we got there) – but now we’re in a slumpy slump when it comes to silverware, at least.
What’s interesting, however, is the passion for the club continues to grow online, and off. The site now gets somewhere in the region of 100,000 visits every day serving well over a quarter of a million pages, thousands of comments left on the blog, the news site, by the close to 20,000 people who follow via Facebook, by the 73,000 or so who follow Arseblog on Twitter, the Arsecast is listened to by over 10,000 people every week, and it, in general, continues to grow.
From what was a very simple HTML page back in the day, made fancier by Tom as he converted to PHP so we could incorporate the new arses, there’s now a site driven by WordPress, optimised for mobile devices, with apps for iPhone/iPad and Android, contributors, columnists, and much more.
I have to thank some people for helping me get this far. Tom who has been a friend, first and foremost, but a technical wizard behind the scenes. I can make things look relatively pretty, but making them work is the trick and from the Arses to server moves to the live blog tool and much more, Tom has done it all. Without him this would be a much, much less efficient place. Give him some props on the Twitterbox.
To those who contribute to the site in other ways, cheers to you – Andrew Allen, Sian, Tim from 7amkickoff, Tim Stillman, Jeorge Bird, Sul, and to Tony for all his help offline when there are boxes to lug and flights to catch. Charlie and Chris, we’ll always have The Philharmonic. Thank you also all the fellow bloggers, and journalists, who give their time so generously for the Arsecast each week. To Martin and Louise at The Tollington, not just for having a great pub but for being so brilliant to the site, and the Arseblog regulars, for years now.
A big mention too for Tagadab who host the site, who battled manfully to keep it up (the site, I mean), on transfer deadline day in August, and who have been absolutely essential since we moved there. If you need web hosting of any kind, they’re the people to call.
And that’s without even mentioning you, the regular readers, listeners, commentators, dissenters, who come every day and have helped this site grow into what it is today. I do my utmost to answer every email (sometimes late, I admit but there is a lot of it), because this is a website built on communication. From me to you, you to me, and you lot to each other via the arses and so on.
It’s a community online that has brought people together offline too, where friendships have been forged, drinks taken, more drinks taken, food eaten, some more drinks taken, songs sung, triumphs enjoyed, miseries shared, football played, and all done because we all love the same thing … Arsenal Football Club.
And if it all sounds a bit wanky and Oscar speechy, well, tough. If I’ve forgotten anyone – and I’m pretty sure I have – I am sorry. It’s not deliberate, I have a head like a sieve at the best of times, so please forgive me. I love you. Probably.
Ten years is a real milestone, a lot has happened between then and now, and I’m sure there’s plenty more to come.
I also like the fact that we spanked Sp*rs 5-2 yesterday and 5 x 2 = 10. Karmariffic. Or something.
Shameless plug time
Now, if you want to find out a bit more about how the site came into being, you can read about it in So Paddy Got Up. My piece explains the genesis (no need to worry, not the Phil Collins kind!) of Arseblog, and also features 25 other great pieces of writing about The Arsenal. It’s only available online from the Arseblog Store or behind the bar in The Tollington, and it does help support the site.
Plus it’s just a really good book about Arsenal, even if I do say so myself. Thankfully, lots of other people say it too so it’s not just me.
Anyway, raise a glass. I’d like to thank you all again most sincerely, and here’s the next 10 years.
May the *boilk* be with you.