Discovering that Sent Her Forward came within 10 votes of making the final of the Football Blogging Awards has left me with mixed feelings.
The thought of being so near to what will surely be a celebration of the best in UK blogging on the country’s favourite sport gives me great pride and appreciation of every single one of you who went to the bother of casting a vote for this website.
Yet at the same time I feel frustrated that a few more votes would have given me a genuine chance of formal and tangible recognition of the work I have put into what has become an appreciation of women’s and girls’ football and of everybody who contributes to the sport.
For I would be delighted for Sent Her Forward to stand scrutiny by fellow journalists and bloggers alongside any other site. It was securing sufficient votes for it to get the chance that proved too demanding.
However, my disappointment has been tempered by the thoughtful e-mail I received from one of the award organisers, who was extremely complimentary about the website and its content, suggesting it was “truly different and engaging”.
I feel that in terms of reflecting the level of interest in the sport – and particularly the dediication of those who play and administer it – Sent Her Forward has already made an impression, and to a large extent, already achieved its principal aims.
I appreciate every piece of feedback I receive, every suggestion, every contribution, every bit of encouragement that you make, the level of which convinced me some time ago that my effort was not being wasted.
However, as I warned previously, the time has come for me to rein in my effort, temporarily at least.
Sent Her Forward is in danger of consuming me as I spend more and more time mentioning the fortunes of more and more teams, and the exploits of more and more individuals.
In recent weeks, I have, on occasion, mentioned more than 100 clubs and 50 players in a single round-up in an effort to reward the interest shown in my blog from people outside the initial area I aimed to cover.
What began as a glimpse of women’s football in Sussex and the immediate vicinity has spread to include frequent references to teams all over London and – because of the geographical leagues some of our teams find themselves in – south-west England and Wales.
Sent Her Forward has even attracted a mini-fan club in that northern outpost of Coventry, where I enjoy good relationships with not one, but two fine Premier League clubs.
But I have to reduce substantially the hours I put into the blog, while ensuring it does not become stagnant.
Some of you may have noticed I was unable to preview all the games I normally cover last weekend; nor was I able to squeeze in the last of my round-ups following Sunday’s fixtures.
If I don’t have the time to do them properly, I would rather not do them at all.
Same quality, less quantity
The loss (temporarily, I hope) of hundreds of photographs and key documents when my PC gave up the ghost contributed substantially to my difficulties last weekend, but it merely highlighted a quandary I have had for some time: more hours on the website + same number of hours at work = fewer hours to sleep and fulfil my domestic obligations.
Something has had to give – and it can no longer be the latter.
So I am going to reduce my output, while ensuring I keep the website as up to date as I am able.
I shall still cover matches as often as I can; still write reports (possibly a mixture of my traditional comprehensive, detailed, considered pieces featuring the views of players and managers and briefer, more direct, match reports).
I shall still write articles that feature those at the sharp end of the game – the ambitious plans of Brighton, Lewes and Worthing Town, the experiences of players who try their luck on the other side of the Atlantic or secure moves to the Super League, and the exclusive news stories that help make Sent Her Forward an essential – and reliable – source of information on the women’s game.
But my previews will be much briefer, featuring far fewer teams – as, I’m afraid, will my weekend round-ups.
I realise this will disappoint a lot of people who look for news of their own clubs or of players they know elsewhere. But I shall try to ensure that over time, as many teams as possible are covered – just not necessarily every week.
Hopefully, this will be a temporary measure until I can catch up with myself. But if it proves to be longer-term, I hope you will understand and continue to support my efforts, still contribute to the site and still say hello if you see me at games.
The quantity might be reduced, but I assure you the quality will not.
That way, maybe I’ll pick up those extra 10 votes next year.