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Friday, January 1, 2021

THE PFBBA THINGY RESULTS

Over the past few years, the fine art of blogging has been pushed aside by, amongst others, vloggers, podcasters and Instagram accounts all aiming for the general public's attention on social media, and, quite often, the bank-card in the collective wallet as well. The patient, written word has been pushed aside in favour of the perhaps visually more attractive but increasingly breathless, inane and vacuous goings-on of folk on camera, many of whom started out as bloggers but who have become sole traders.

That is all well and good, and many people will be of the opinion that times change and that social media must change with it, including how a message is delivered. But, I'm still someone who prefers reading a book to perusing an Ebook, and will rather listen to a CD than to YouTube (although I do both with relish), and will rather read a blog than watch someone rabbit on about something which doesn't interest me.

The trouble is, blogs - and good blogs, in particular - are becoming increasingly rare. Even the Football Blogging Awards are now called the Football Content Awards, and blogs are increasingly hard to find in amongst the bells and whistles from vloggers, podcasters and other content creators. For a while now, I'd thought about creating a one-off process solely aimed at raising the profile of small-scale bloggers, and recently hit upon hosting a virtual vote and, in a moment of blinding originality, calling the whole thing the Pat's Football Blog Blogging Awards. I also wanted to give a leg up for categories other awards operations normally ignore, such as football shirts, Subbuteo, walking football, match programme reviews and so on.

Most of the nominations, including some which had to be rejected, were known to me, but quite a few weren't. Some of them were rejected because they plainly weren't blogs, but websites. It's quite difficult to accept a nomination when a website describes itself as a website.. 

Others were rejected because they sought payment in return for access to certain articles, or because they published a magazine to complement their site; they are no longer blogs in my eyes, but businesses. Still others were refused consideration because they were essentially podcasts or vlogs, or used video interviews or podcast material to an over-large degree. 

One or two people were put out by their nominations being refused, but I wanted to give a chance to pur sang bloggers (and this was explained to them at length), although I did try to give those blogs which used match highlights a bit of leeway. 

The Pat's Football Blog Blogging Awards was a small-scale operation for small-scale blogs, and the number of people who voted reflected this, but, pleasingly, a number of blogs did attract new followers and get some welcome exposure. That was the whole objective of the exercise. I also discovered several new blogs and got to know several more a bit better, and every one of those blogs (and websites and podcasts) nominated had a lot to offer and are well worth delving into.

There were originally twelve categories for which nominations were accepted, with a minimum of two nominations per category needed in order for a public vote to go ahead. In the end, nine categories were opened; no nominations were received for the Subbuteo, Walking Football and Non-English Language categories.

NOMINATED BLOGS

GENERAL: The 94th Minute; Gareth's Football Travels; The Left-sided Problem; The Lonely Goalpost; Jimmy Sirrel's Lovechild; And Still Ricky Villa; A Sticker's Worth 500 Words; The Welsh Goalkeeper

FOOTBALL SHIRTS: The Global Obsession; World Shirts; Soccer Sartorial; Adam's Shirt Quest

UK & IRELAND NON-LEAGUE: AFE Football News; The 94th Minute; The Terrace Traveller; The Welsh Goalkeeper; The Cold End; Gareth's Football Travels

INTERNATIONAL INTEREST: Gareth's Football Travels; English Abroad, Far Out Football; The Cold End; Playing Away From Home; Living In Montserrat; Menorca Football; Pasifika Sisters

NEW BLOGS: The Left-sided Problem; The Soccer Mentor; A Sticker's Worth 500 Words; The Welsh Goalkeeper

GROUNDHOPPING: The Terrace Traveller; Manchopper's Ventures; Gareth's Football Travels; Topliss At The Turnstiles

WOMEN'S FOOTBALL: Pasifika Sisters; This Fan Girl; Dare 2 Blog - Women's Football

NON-FIFA/MINNOWS: Pasifika Sisters; Living In Montserrat

MATCH PROGRAMME REVIEWS: Gareth's Football Travels; The Cold End; Jimmy Sirrel's Lovechild

On to the results of the public vote, and, in the main, those who won their respective categories were deserving of their finishing top of the pile, and the list of winners is below. Many congratulations to them all!

PUBLIC VOTE

GENERAL: The 94th Minute

FOOTBALL SHIRTS: The Global Obsession

INTERNATIONAL INTEREST: English Abroad

NEW BLOGS: The Left-sided Problem

GROUNDHOPPING: The Terrace Traveller

WOMEN'S FOOTBALL: Dare 2 Blog - Women's Football

NON-FIFA/MINNOWS: Living In Montserrat

UK & IRELAND NON-LEAGUE: The Terrace Traveller

MATCH PROGRAMME REVIEWS: Gareth's Football Travels

I had a good look at the nominations before, during and after the voting, and decided that I would give my own "awards" in addition to the public vote; a kind of "Patman's Choice", if you will. One or two results are a little different to those of the public vote, but my choices are purely personal, of course, and might radically differ from the PFBBA proper. I also wanted to recognise one or two blogs with virtual awards away from any voting process.

My own choices allied mainly with the public vote, with Clint Jones' 94th Minute coming top of the General category because of a wonderfully eclectic mix of writing matter, written in Clint's own inimitable style. The Global Obsession wins the Football Shirt section, but by a whisker from Adam's Shirt Quest and Sartorial Soccer. 

My choice of Menorca Football for the International Interest category might surprise a few people, but I like what they are trying to do in promoting football in an ignored and overlooked corner of footballing Spain, and it is comprehensive in its approach. The Left-sided Problem concentrates on top-level football, but with more of a historical bent, and does so comprehensively. It deserved the New Blogs award, but The Soccer Mentor, A Sticker's Worth 500 Words and The Welsh Goalkeeper are original in their outlook, and all four are worth reading (and following). I see much potential here.

All four nominations for the Groundhopping category have lots of plus points, but no-one does it quite like The Terrace Traveller. Those of you who know his work won't need any further explanation. Those who don't just have to head over to his blog to understand why. 

Only three blogs made it through to be nominated for the Women's Football section; This Fan Girl seemed to have shut down for Christmas, as had Pasifika Sisters, and neither took an active part in promoting their chances, but both offer interesting reading matter (on radically different areas of the women's game) and are well worth following. Terry McFadden's Dare 2 Blog - Women's Football is a down-to-earth blog with few frills but lots of good articles and match-reports, which in the main shine a much-needed spotlight on lower-league women's football in England, and made him a deserving winner in a small but high-standard field.

Just two blogs took part in the Non-FIFA/Minnows poll, which was won by Living In Montserrat. The name correctly suggests that it's more than a football blog, but Craig Brewin's blog was given a chance due to it being the only blog I know which reports regularly on football-matters Montserratian (and it's worth checking out for other bits and pieces to do with life on the Caribbean island). Pasifika Sisters, meanwhile, is a relatively new blog, which covers women's football in the OFC region and elsewhere in the Pacific, and does it well. I couldn't decide between the two; a joint award it is.

Gareth's Football Travels won the public Match Programme Reviews award, and wins this one, too, but it was a close thing between Mr. Williams and The Cold End for Patman's Choice. Both are very informative, but Gareth breaks down the content and gives his articles a little more of a personal touch.

Still, if you're looking for a blog which would be the ultimate representative for English non-league football, you would be hard-pressed to find a generally better, more comprehensive, more informative one than The Cold End, and author Barry has been keeping up the same high standard for years. I only hope he finds the time to add to his programme (and other) writings, some of which he hasn't done in a while, and can also find space on his home page to showcase his articles on the Belarussian Premier League. I think he was robbed in the UK & Ireland Non-league public vote, but he's Patman's Choice in this category, and by a distance.

Because of the astounding amount of top-quality work Barry has produced since 2009, making him one of the longest-serving bloggers I know of (a year longer than yours truly), he richly deserves a PFB award for Services to Blogging, such as it is. I recommend his work in writing about and promoting non-League football, and commend him for being one of the few bloggers to comprehensively cover football in Belarus this past year, helping - alongside the one and only Chris Walker, the man behind CW Sport Radio - to provide a football fix for lovers of the ball which is round during much of lockdown, and all at a consistently high standard.

Finally, a word for all the nominees for the Football Shirt category. Those who collect shirts are a misunderstood but close-knit community, who look out for each other in many ways. The four nominees, Adam's Shirt Quest, Soccer Sartorial, The Global Obession and World Shirts, took part in an extremely sporting section, and deserve an accolade for their fair-play during voting.

PFB VOTE

GENERAL: The 94th Minute

FOOTBALL SHIRTS: The Global Obsession

INTERNATIONAL INTEREST: Menorca Football

NEW BLOGS: The Left-sided Problem

GROUNDHOPPING: The Terrace Traveller

WOMEN'S FOOTBALL: Dare 2 Blog - Women's Football

NON-FIFA/MINNOWS: Living In Montserrat/Pasifika Sisters

UK & IRELAND NON-LEAGUE: The Cold End

MATCH PROGRAMME REVIEWS: Gareth's Football Travels

PFBBA FAIR-PLAY AWARD: The Global Obsession/World Shirts/Soccer Sartorial/Adam's Shirt Quest

SERVICES TO BLOGGING AWARD: The Cold End 

Whether or not any of the blogs nominated for the PFBBAs receive any more accolades in the future is mainly up to them, but I was very happy to discover a number of new blogs, and not just those which were nominated, but also a few others which left comments and which would have been excellent nominations for any blogging awards. There was something for everyone in the PFBBAs, and I hope that the blogs involved develop, evolve and prosper in the future. Give them your support.

I thank every one of you who took an interest in the PFBBAs, every one of you who nominated a blog, whether it was your own or that of someone else, every one of you who voted, every one of you who commented on or supported this little venture in any way. I'm only sorry I have no trophies or mementos for the winners, but I think every blog which has taken part has won in its own way. If nothing else, my little project has shown that there is a lot of good writing to be discovered out there, a lot of good writers to be showcased and supported. Let's find them and help them out. After all, if we can't go to watch football, we can at least read about it.

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