My football Club are the Champions of England. Leicester City, my little Leicester City, the club I have supported for over 25 years are the Champions of English football. I have say it a couple of times because I simply don’t believe it, even now, after watching the team lift aloft the trophy, after seeing Andre Bochelli performing ‘Nessun Dorma’ at our Stadium, after listening to about 6 different radio stations replay of events, after reading all of the newspaper articles and after staring liking a crazy person at the league table for hours on end, I still don’t believe this has happened, but it has….
One thing that has amazed me with this event, and the build up to this event has been the reaction on social media and the internet in general. Leicester City’s facebook page has seen explosive growth in the last 9 months, they have gone from roughly 500,000 followers to almost 5,000,000. The content that they provide helps with this, they offer free video snippets from behind the scenes, including my personal favorite ‘tunnel cam’ which shows the action in the tunnel before and after the match, its great to see players arriving in their suits at the start of the day and celebrating with the backroom staff after another deserved victory
Leicester have used content like this to create a real sense of connection between the club, players and fans. This is complimented by some of the players who are quite active on social media, left back Christian Fuchs is probably most prolific, he has created his own hashtag #nofuchsgiven and posted some great content on twitter, particularly some great videos that give fans a look at the lighter side of the players lives by showing us how they have fun, Fuchs seems to be a big fan of the Scissors/Paper/Stone game, he posted the following video on Twitter a while ago
It was great to see Fuchs and some of the other team members still playing this game on Tunnel Cam while they waited to head out and collect the Premier League Trophy.
So that’s enough about the club and its social media policy.
What has Leicester City’s online presence meant to me personally this season? It’s been an incredible way of feeling part of the club, living 12,000 miles is hard for a football fan. I think back over all the different ways I have followed Leicester City over the years.
As a child we would listen to the football at Grandads house ‘on the wireless’ a bakelite box that held a very special place on the sideboard of his backroom, the television was in the front room and was rarely used (as was the front room heater), Grandad lived close enough to the ground that you would know if Leicester had scored by the roar of the crowd, usually a second or two later this would be confirmed on the radio.
As a teenager I went to the games with friends, mainly home games, so away games were still listened to on the radio. If I was out and about shopping it was always possible to check a football score on Teletext in a shop window, Radio Rentals would usually leave their windows display TVs on the scores update page so that people could check how their team was going
As time passed I travelled further from Leicester. By the end of the 1990’s I was living in Australia. Very occasionally I would get the chance to see a match on the television, more often though I would be checking the scores online, you did hear stories of people calling home from Australia and getting their mum to hold the telephone to the wireless so that they could listen to the game, this was never in my budget, besides there are far more interesting things to do in Australia than that.
By the early 2000s I was living back in London, working in IT and running my own Leicester City Website, http://www.thefosse.com. There are still traces of it online now, which I find pretty awesome. The website provided a platform for myself and friends massively biased views on Leicester, it ran for maybe 4 years and was reasonably popular, mainly it was great fun to run. The website really came to the fore when Leicester hit financial trouble in 2002, we almost went out of business, but a number of dedicated fans managed to drum up enough interest to save the club. I had a broken leg at the time and so lots of spare time, I entered thousands of supporters details into a database, helped to found The Foxes Trust, a supporters group who ended with a member up on the board of the club, and used my website to get news out to the fans. It was a great community effort.
Shortly afterwards I left for New Zealand. This coincided with bad times for the club, and although I always closely followed their results I wouldn’t be able to tell you what really happened there for a few years.
Since we won the title I have been contacted by so many friends on Social Media, people from all stages of my life, kids I grew up with, went to school with, college with, travelled with, lived with, or just met in bars. All of these people have half stayed in contact because of what Facebook, and it has been great to reconnect with them, thanks to this unexpected and crazy story.
I am lucky enough to live in a country that offers all Premier League games online. We have to pay $200 a year for the streaming service, but it is absolutely wonderful. I can wake up at 2am, grab my phone and watch the game in bed, much to my partner (and dogs) disgust. In fact, it was there on Tuesday morning that I saw Leicester City confirmed as Champions, as I lay in bed watching Chelsea draw with Spurs.
If you’d have told me 25 years ago that I’d be in my bed watching a live match that confirmed Leicester City as Premier League Champions from 12,000 miles away I’d have thought you were mad. The fact that grandad and I started out with ‘a wireless’ and now I am watching it on ‘wireless’ is not lost on me. times have changed but still the same 🙂