These are worrying times we live in.
The present and the future look decidedly shaky as we battle to overcome the coronavirus pandemic.
Sometimes, when things look uncertain around us, it is nice to reflect on happier moments of our past. They can develop a feeling of well-being.
It is the same for football fans as much as anyone else. On Grassroots North Wales, we’re trying to focus on celebration as much as we can, creating smiles through nostalgia.
Therefore it is particularly galling to be part of an era where our history is being robbed before our very eyes.
The prime example is the excellent former website http://www.welsh-premier.com which carried more or less every snippet of information one would ever need about the Welsh Premier League and beyond.
Brilliantly co-ordinated by Andrew Lincoln, the site closed down probably about two years ago and has never been replaced.
This was a disaster for people like myself, prolific writers about Welsh football who would often use Andrew’s site a few times a day.
We were left with the old “official” Welsh Premier site, which was never the most reliable, but that has now also shut down.
And then came along the so far (and I’m being really gentlemanly here) largely ineffective http://www.cymrufootball.wales
We were promised a big launch in conjunction with the rebranding of the Welsh Premier for the current season, but the site so far has been often inaccurate, tardy, incomplete and containing no history at all.
If websites needed a domestic licence, this one would be banished to the lower leagues.
Sites/blogs covering Welsh football either regionally or nationally have become far more resourceful and reliable.
After the main http://www.welsh-premier.com was closed, you could still until very recently access parts of its sections, including player records going back to the start of the league in 1992.
This proved exceptionally useful when I compiled a series of articles on WPL Player Surname XI’s (best Jones XI, best Williams XI etc).
However, out of nowhere, this link rather strangely disappeared overnight and was replaced by this message: The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to maintenance downtime or capacity problems. Please try again later.
I’ve tried ‘later’, many times, and nothing.
So now, unless I am looking in the wrong place, this once fantastic site has been abandoned into the ether.
As the slogan once said – Welsh Premier. The most trusted and reliable source in Welsh domestic football. Wasn’t it just!
What a tragedy for those of us (and there are many) who write about Welsh football and so often used it that it is now gone.
In recent times, Mel ap Ior Thomas, who co-ordinates the weekly WPL newsletter, has been running a series of Welsh Premier records such as: most goals, most appearances, biggest wins etc.
Great work, but only a ‘best of’ collection when many would still like access to the entire catalogue.
It’s like being handed a Best of The Beatles CD, but being denied access to Revolver, Rubber Soul and Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Why could the FAW not have purchased the rights to Mr Lincoln’s site and picked up where he left off?
It would have preserved the site’s history and made life easier for an awful lot of people.
When it comes to history and the archiving of it, some North Wales clubs are great, others not so.
There has been a regular pattern in recent years of clubs building a good-looking new site, but providing it with so much less information than the old one.
The most popular reason for not doing this has been ‘time’. I might be in the minority here, but I think ‘time’ should be made for something as vital as this.
There are exceptions. Connah’s Quay Nomads’ excellent media man Nik Mesney, for example, is currently compiling all the club’s WPL stats since day one.
Other clubs have just chucked away huge chunks of the past.
Somewhere down the line, when someone may want to write a book on a club’s history, or North Wales football over the years, there will be big chapters missing as some clubs could not be bothered record-keeping.
Too late for regrets. They might even contact people like me asking for help.
I’ve got many useful records, but am by no means a bible. After all, I did have a main job as a journalist for more than 30 years which didn’t always leave much time for stats collecting.
Leagues are very hit or miss too. Some are fantastic, others not so.
Some don’t have past tables on their websites. One league has two or three seasons of tables missing as two committee members fell out and blamed each other for losing them. Strewth!
The people you rely on for history sometimes let you down.
My advice, for what it’s worth, to leagues, clubs, everyone, is keep your history safe as people in future years will want to use it.
History binning should be a criminal offence.