Gary dropped me a note this evening to say that the next post here on MFW would be the 3,000th since we first threw ourselves on the mercy of the world-wide web some seven years ago. So, would I like to mark the occasion by ‘penning’ something myself?
Not that any of us ‘pen’ anything these days, but – as ever – he has a decent point. It is something of a milestone.
It has been quite a journey; plenty of headaches and heartaches en route and without the tireless labours of our Kevin on the ad-selling front, we would have disappeared many, many moons ago. For those that still enjoy the odd bit of informed comment writing you occasionally find on here, he is the one to thank. Go buy an ad…
I know exactly who I have to thank for all this… a US academic called Clay Shirky. And I know exactly when MFW was born – my 40th birthday; January 16th, 2006 when I read one piece in Media Guardian.
It is here, for anyone interested.
But these are the lines that put the wheels in motion: “In the same way that there’s a split between the music industry and the recording industry, there’s a split between writers and the newspaper industry.
“The recording industry is in trouble but the music industry is not, because musicians still make music and people still care about music enormously. The people who sell plastic circles with the music on it, on the other hand, are in real trouble.
“So if you base your business model on producing plastic circles, or, by analogy, staining wood with ink, you’re going to be in trouble.
“Do people care about good writing? Of course they do, and it’s the writers who can adapt to the new technologies. The only technological innovation that the newspaper industry is waiting for is a time machine so that it can turn back the clock.”
And that’s all we have ever hoped; that people still care about good writing. Particularly about one of the greatest passions in their lives – their favourite football club.
I can’t now remember the date we actually launched; nor – instantly – put my hands on that very first post.
I can, however, remember the game we covered at the start of that first season away from ‘staining wood with ink’… it would be the fag end of Nigel Worthington’s managerial reign. Bitterness and poison were already think in the air before they lost 1-0 away at Leeds United.
The team that day, for the record, was: P Gallacher, A Drury, J Shackell, G Doherty, J Colin (P Thorne, 82), L Croft (L McKenzie, 56), Y Safri, D Etuhu, C Robinson (P McVeigh, 71), D Huckerby, R Earnshaw.
Colin, Gallacher and Thorne aside, that’s not a bad team. Alas, the sum of its various parts never quite made for a rounded, happy whole and once a certain D Huckerby got injured, the wheels really, really came off the bus.
Post-relegation boil lanced, Worthington’s exit ushered in the arrival of Peter Grant and the rest is, of course, history.
Suffice to say MFW has plumbed some nasty depths over the last seven years before the current highs.
Sure, the Canaries have yet to match the feats of teams of yore in terms of a top six finish and a decent FA Cup run, but the world is a wholly different place to that which gave Mike Walker’s men a ticket to the Olympic Stadium.
Without prompting a raft of furious commentators, I’m not sure a top four finish in the English Premier League is ever going to be a simple ask for a club of Norwich’s size and financial resource – and English football is the poorer as a result. Fighting for seventh spot and safety by February isn’t all that it is cracked up to be.
That said, I think the Canaries are in ruder health – on and off the pitch – than they ever have been in their 111-year history.
Chris Hughton may not have won over every sceptic; for many, he will never match the manager that he succeeded.
But run through the side that edged the game on Saturday against an equally ambitious Southampton side and compare each to the side that lost – by an equally fine margin – at Elland Road that summer and I would suggest only one player would make Hughton’s starting XI.
One D Huckerby.
Drury, Earnshaw and Etuhu I would slip on the bench, but otherwise the Class of 2013-2014 is a class apart from the team that Worthington clung to in those dark and divided days.
I don’t have any real fears for Norwich this season.
I think there’s enough poison in the air elsewhere – most notably in the North-East – for the Canaries to sail through this campaign relatively untroubled.
And in the likes of your Redmonds and your Fers, new heroes are fast emerging; players to, potentially, rival your Huckerbys and your Holts – though I would expect neither to be here over-long if the early signs of being genuine Premier League articles are any guide.
But, again, that’s just another sign of the changing times.
As, indeed, is this. No 3,000th – done and dusted. And not a stained tree to be seen.