50,000 endorsements of Sent Her Forward

In the past week Sent Her Forward passed its 300th day and celebrated with its 50,000th page view.

That’s 50,000 times that pages on this website have been accessed – and it’s not even a year old yet.

And I know from the detailed breakdown that it’s not just a quick click on the Home Page – all my articles are viewed, and judging by the feedback I receive, they are read.

As I’m partial to the occasional stat, forgive me if I celebrate those two little gems.

But more practically, please accept my sincere thanks for contributing to those remarkable figures.

Football Blogging Awards widget

When I launched the blog on November 27 last year I had no idea how successful – or useful – it might prove.

It satisfied a desire in me to harness two of my loves – football and journalism. But I hoped it would prove to be much more.

As many of you know, I began the website because I had been so impressed by the commitment and enthusiasm I had witnessed when watching women’s football at my local Hanbury Stadium (then occupied by Haywards Heath and now by their opponents that day, Wivelsfield Green).

I decided to write match reports in much the same style I would use in my paid job, on the sports desk of The Times Online.

Cynicism and play-acting

A different standard from the men’s Premier League it might have been, but that can be a good thing, too.

Gone were the cynicism and play-acting of the men’s professional game – but not the competitiveness and commitment.

Yes, it was slower. And no, these part-time women and girls who trained maybe one evening a week after work or college, might never have the strength and power of their male counterparts.

But don’t ever make the mistake that women’s football is inferior.

A well-balanced match between two bunches of committed female players, whose only incentives are to try to win, to try to better themselves and – significantly – to do something they absolutely enjoy can be as entertaining as a professional encounter – and in many cases, can surpass it.

Nor is there much difference in technical ability.

Of course, those who rise to the top of the game in both men’s and women’s football are going to possess immense talent, as well as commitment, work rate and luck.

Leigh Farley in action for Wivelsfield Green

Leigh Farley – one of the best grassroots players I’ve had the pleasure to watch (Photo: Dave Burt)

But on skill alone, amateurs of both genders can often compare to their more celebrated – and better rewarded – counterparts.

That first women’s game I watched at the Hanbury Stadium a couple of years back featured a quality of corner kick that I have never seen bettered. Stand up Leigh Farley and Hayley Plummer.

And it wasn’t a one-off – I’ve seen both repeat it many times, as have many other women for teams all over the South East.

Widely read

So my commitment in reflecting that of hundreds of women and girls all over the region has been fully justified.

That so many players, coaches, managers and fans – in Sunderland, Newcastle, Durham, Preston, Yeovil and Coventry, as well as all over the South East (the area on which I focus) – read it is a compliment I feel very proud to accept on behalf of my website – and an indication that everybody involved in the game appreciates the fact that their efforts are being taken seriously.

Not just by me, of course. There are plenty of fine blogs and websites that feature – or focus exclusively on – the female game, most of which were around long before Sent Her Forward.

It’s a healthy situation and one that I hope will encourage more girls to take up the game competitively and – crucially – to continue playing when other things vie for their attention, such as studying, partying, work and family commitments.

But back to the stats.

By coincidence, this article proclaiming my 50,000th page view is the 250th I have written on Sent Her Forward.

I couldn’t quite maintain that one-a-day average that I did for the first six months – the close season and work commitments have put paid to that.

But that’s still 250 separate stories in just over 300 days – another mathematical milestone for me to savour.

Award shortlist

However, Sent Her Forward’s viewing figures pale in comparison with those of many established football blogs – particularly those associated with well-supported football clubs, who have a ready-made audience of tens of thousands, and who receive as many views in a month as this website has in nearly a year.

So when it comes to the Football Blogging Awards, in which so many of you have already voted for me, the chances of my winning enough support to even make the shortlist are pretty remote.

But every time I read that one of you has kindly voted for me in the Best New Blog category, my heart swells with pride and my incentive for continuing Sent Her Forward grows.

If you haven’t already – and would like to – this page explains how the voting works.

And clicking on the image below is a quick way of registering your vote on Twitter.

Tweet: I am voting in @TheFBAs for @PompeyNev as the Best #New Football Blog

You can also vote via Facebook or on the Football Blogging Awards website.

Or you can click on the image at the top of this page.

Regardless of what happens with the awards, I am proud that so many of you regard my efforts as worthwhile.

It provides just the incentive I need to continue. Thank you.

Closing date for voting is October 10.

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