I don’t know what I did in a previous life to upset the sporting Gods but it must have been bad as I was born in a time and a place that made me a Hull City supporter during a period in their history when they were, to be honest, awful.
If you are a fan of SEC football in America (as I now am) imagine becoming a Vols fan in 1999. The previous year they had won the National Championship and the season before that Payton Manning had lead them to an SEC championship; what have they done since? Exactly!
To be fair there was a period in my Hull City supporting days when we were the biggest fish in a small pond. We won two promotions in three seasons to rise from the 4th tier of the English Football (Soccer) league but things soon went horribly wrong and the team entered what is not so fondly called “The Dolan Years” during which the football was horrible, most of the fans gave up and we began a long slide that was to almost end in the death of the club that we loved.
Most of this period I observed from afar as I was working in the Middle East and in those days before sporting results were instantly transmitted around the world in the Blink of a Tweet I had to rely on Bulletin Boards and email groups to get my sporting fix. One of those email groups was Tiger-Chat which was launched in 1992 and despite the best efforts of Facebook and Twitter is still going strong as it starts thinking about celebrating its 21st Birthday.
Friends in need; friends indeed.
Although I’ve only met a few of the people on Tiger-Chat in person I have come to know all their characteristics (good and bad – as in any community) we’ve shared news of the birth of children, we’ve seen spotty faced 13 year-olds develop into even spottier faced 30 year-olds with kids of their own and from time to time we even discuss the football – which has got a lot better by the way!
Hull City have always had fantastic support away from home and fans from all over the country, indeed even from outside the country, travel many thousands of miles each season to follow their team. In a close rivals match within Yorkshire it is not unheard of for 4 or 5 thousand members of the Tiger Nation to convene on the opposing team’s stadium.
Hull City are due to play a game against Huddersfield Town on Saturday March 20th 2013. The game would normally have kicked off at 3pm but it is to be shown live on Sky TV and as such has been moved back to 5.20. This has prompted West Yorkshire Police to impose severe travel restrictions on the fans, including limiting the number of tickets to 1,700 and forcing law abiding citizens to be herded like criminals. However, this blog isn’t about the rights and wrongs of that (although it IS wrong).
The club’s management didn’t play their hand very well and managed to alienate the majority of supporters and in an effort to try and win back some hearts and minds created a Fans Liaison & Advisory Group. Recognizing Tiger-Chat as a place where they could reach a large cross-section of the fan base they asked the list owner, Andy Medcalf, if they (we) would like to be represented in the group.
I’ll let the Tiger-Chat rep tell the next part of the story:
Our emailing list was suddenly asked to be part of a new organization advising a professional football (soccer) club and so we unexpectedly and urgently needed a website where we could rapidly survey our members views, feed them back quickly in a user-friendly fashion and make available agendas and notes of meetings in an easily accessible way. Ian understood our needs immediately and, literally over night, produced exactly what we wanted first time! We were as amazed as we were grateful.
Mark Gretton, Tiger-Chat Fans Representative.
And from the list owner himself:
Andy Medcalf, Tiger-Chat Listmeister and Chief Poster of Accounts.
A website built in a BLINK…