So that’s that then. Five and a half years of tapping away at keyboards and hoping various bosses don’t notice that I’m not actually copying out the spreadsheet I said I was come to an end. One of the reasons I began Viva was because I felt there was a gap on the web for a more reasoned and relaxed take on the Rovers. The excellent Donny f***ing Rovers had gone, YAURS had lost its battle to retain the Empire and suddenly it was the official site or nowt. The other, and more important reason, was because I enjoyed writing and wanted to do it more regularly.
Viva Rovers began in July 2006, when it took over the Doncaster slot on the Rivals network vacated by Donny Massive. I don’t know what the first article I wrote for the site was, because it, along with most of the first three years of content were lost when S*y Sp***s unceremoniously pulled the plug on the Rivals network in the middle of the night. I decided to resurrect the site then, in July 2009, for the same reason I started it in the first place, quite simply I just enjoyed writing it.
In the past few months that enjoyment has waned, in part because my support for the club is not what it once was. They’re still my club. It’s still my home town. But the attachment is not as resolute as it has been in the past. The other reason the enjoyment has waned, is because of the abuse. Four five years abusive responses to articles I’ve written have been few and very far between. In the past few months they have followed pretty much every article. Of course people will and should disagree with me, that’s human nature, that’s football. But it seems folk have ceased to be able to disagree with me without hurling abuse or creating a caricature or social profile of me, and perhaps inevitably I’ve become fed up of that.
I don’t seek to be abusive or personal and indeed have not. There are no irrational or personal attacks of character in the articles on here (well aside from Neil Warnock, and I view him as the exception which proves the rule). Instead any opinion offered has been formed based on the actions and words of the people concerned. I have always, from the very start, sought to be balanced and, as much as a supporter can be from their club, withdrawn. I’ve never sought to be controversial for the sake of a response as it’s an approach I abhor and one I’ve duly taken others to task on. The ‘stance’ such as it is of this site toward football and the Rovers has never really wavered, despite the efforts of those reading it to crowbar articles into pigeon-holes with ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ scrawled above them in crayon.
In the past few months I have been called a prick, a bellend, a boring fucker, a bastard, a c**t, a boring bastard, miserable, sad, pathetic. I’ve been told to fuck off countless times. I’ve been told to go and support Portsmouth or Leeds, or anyone else. Its been suggested that I’ve brainwashed supporters into thinking like me (because of course none of you reach opinions of your own accord any more), and been cited as a reason why attendances at the club are down (an opinion on the web being apparently more influential than a recession). There’s been threads assessing my character and ‘motives’ on messageboards. I have had a phone call from the director of the Viking Supporters Co-operative for ‘a chat’ and an email from them suggesting what I should and shouldn’t write. I have had another phone call warning me to be careful what I write about the club as folk are ‘keeping tabs’ on me. Still, it’s just banter.
I don’t get any money for this website, in fact it has actually costs me money, as I’ve paid out for the add-on that allows me to host the rescued Rovers v QPR FA Cup match video for folks to view. And so there is no reward in writing it, other than the enjoyment I get from stringing sentences together. When you know those sentences are going to be taken out of context, twisted, and thrown back at you whatever you write there is no enjoyment. Someone commenting on a piece recently began “I read the first couple of paragraphs and gave up” before picking me apart and suggesting I was driving fans away. The notion of context presumably sailing over their head as they typed. Writing each article of late has taken a build up of a few days and a weary here we go sigh. It’s no longer fun. And if it’s no longer fun, then there’s no reason to carry on with the site.
Since mentioning on twitter I was calling time on the site I’ve had a lot of supportive messages and the crux of many is the adage “don’t let the bastards grind you down“. Well, they have. Its become relentless. I’m not a confrontational person, I just like folk to treat me as I treat others. If people want to disagree with me and offer their view then great, if they cannot do that without berating me then thanks, but that’s not for me. I don’t have the mental resolve to keep deflecting abuse over and over again. Someone posting on twitter suggested that I had become a victim of my own negativity. Victim is a bit strong, I’m only ending a hobbie. But if we are using that word then I think its more a case that I’ve become a victim of a seemingly unrelenting pursuit to label all views as either positive or negative, and chuck all opinions in a Venn Diagram which never overlaps.
So that’s the reasoning, that’s why Viva Rovers has become Viva Over, time to end on some positives. Writing this site, and the accompanying twitter feed in particular has opened up a communication channels with a lot of Rovers fans and general football folk, many of whom I consider as friends without ever having met them. Viva enabled me to get in touch with Ray for example, and finally see footage of that Rovers v QPR match from 1985. It enabled me to sell an Ian Duerden t-shirt to Ian Duerden. It enabled me to fulfill an ambition and see my words in The Guardian. It enabled me to meet Geoff who took that picture of me playing the trumpet a decade ago that sits at the top of this page. It enabled me to receive a nice email from a man called Sean. And most keenly it enabled me to enjoy writing. Viva ends here then, but the print fanzine Popular Stand will continue and I’ll probably amalgamate the shop and the twitter feed into that in time. On the front page of the site now are XI of my favourite pieces from Viva’s vault, not necessarily the most viewed or most commented on, but the eleven pieces, of those that survived the Rivals cull, that I’m most happy with, and which I feel best sum up the site.
I’ve never sought praise for this site. I’ve not nominated myself for anything. I’ve never really used it as a networking tool, all that’s not really for me. And so whenever I have received praise or encouragement from others I’ve genuinely been taken aback by the kind words of those of you who’ve taken the time to read this site. The site being described by one Rovers fan as ‘high-brow’ still makes me laugh, and hopefully I’ve lived up to the other messageboard comment which subsequently became the site’s slogan; above all, it actually looked like someone made an effort.
Oh, and finally it was a website, not a bloody blog.