I could probably be described as belonging to the Ceefax generation. It’s a statement which serves as a reminder of my advancing years and may also alienate a certain number of people who will have no idea what I’m referring to.
A genuine precursor to the internet, it was a service that was available through the television, which carried different pages and allowed viewers to find out the latest headlines without waiting for the next news broadcast or newspaper run.
It also played a major part in my life-long obsession with Norwich City football club.
Prior to discovering Ceefax, my only source of football information was my dad who would provide me with snippets on the comings and goings at Carrow Road.
I still remember the sense of anticipation I felt watching Dad in his armchair, his face obscured by the Evening News as he digested the contents from the sports pages. I’d wait patiently for the paper to be lowered to signal that I was about to get my latest installment of Norwich news.
Dad was the source of all my City knowledge. He was the one ‘in the know’ – the original #ITK (more of that later).
Knowledge is power and it would be fair to say that Dad would use this power as both reward and punishment.
“I don’t care if she started it, apologise to your sister. Oh and by the way, City have sold Robert Fleck to Chelsea. Now go to your room.”
My discovery of Ceefax represented a shift in power of seismic proportions in the Cook household. Armed with the TV remote control, I declared independence and had access to all the news I could ever want, whenever I wanted.
Or so it felt. The reality was that Ceefax would run the stories from the local media so at best it would be updated twice a day. As such, my insistence of checking it every 30 minutes was the equivalent of repeatedly picking up the EDP off the coffee table to see if the sports section had miraculously updated.
My dependence on Ceefax reached new levels during the transfer saga of Darren Huckerby in the period between his loan finishing and that glorious Boxing Day when he signed permanently.
The desperation for Hucks to sign was reflected in my desperation for news. I spent hours checking Ceefax for updates, whether it was a quote from the Man City manager Kevin Keegan or the pantomime villain of the piece, his agent Phil. The fact I can still remember his name is in itself a reflection of the time and emotional investment I made.
Ceefax was finally removed from our TV sets in 2012. With satellite news channels broadcasting 24/7 and the rise of the internet, Teletext had effectively become redundant.
The subsequent growth in social media, and in particular Twitter, has meant that the previous trickle of information has become a raging torrent. The challenge is not where to find it but rather how to make sense of the deluge of available information.
Anyone can set up a Twitter account and use it to share whatever information they want, whether that’s news of a goal at Carrow Road, a potential new signing or just the random thoughts in their head (as those who follow my account could testify).
When it comes to transfer news, the problem is that 140 characters in a tweet often provide content but very little context. Rumours can snowball; gaining momentum and credibility with every retweet.
As each new name enters the frame, you’re left wondering whether there’s any substance to the link and whether the source is credible.
It may just be someone commenting on the latest piece of tabloid rumour. Or possibly someone suggesting a transfer target based on hours of playing Football manager and a resulting knowledge of the highest rated free-agents across the European leagues.
There are also those who claim to have genuine inside information and that they are ‘in the know’ using the hashtag ‘ITK’ as if to rubberstamp their credentials. Their source will never be revealed on the basis that doing so would instantly jeopardise the deal. Or possibly because in reality they are as clueless as the rest of us when it comes to knowing what David McNally is really up to.
The fact is for those of us searching for who will become the next player to walk through the gates at Colney, Twitter is an absolute minefield.
Deep down I’m still the same bloke who spent hours on Ceefax and my desperation for City news remains the same. However whilst the world has changed, after all these years, I still won’t believe anything until Dad reads it out from the EDP.