In the Blog: RichardsFootballBlog

by Neil Sherwin

Monday morning means that for most it’s time to drag yourself out of bed and head off to join the rat race for another five days. For BackPageFootball.com however, Monday means we have an interview with the person behind another must read blog. Today we speak to Richard Bellis of RichardsFootballBlog.

Hi Richard, what’s been going on lately?

Hi BackPageFootball, it’s great to be here! I’ve been watching the Six Nations recently if I’m totally honest with you. Not sure I should admit to that on a football site, but I have been doing a bit of research for my next article, when I really should have been doing some work for university. So I suppose that evens things out a little.

There are various reasons given for getting into the whole online writing game. Your blog was born out of a rather unfortunate incident. Care to tell us more?

Well, there I was, third week of university, happily playing football for my Philosophy team when I broke my big toe in two places. It was one of those innocuous challenges that always produce pretty bad injuries. My teammates didn’t think anything was wrong, one of them even told me to walk home! But I was out of action for eight weeks. On crutches, foot in a cast, I couldn’t really go out, so instead I started my football blog. I’d been reading online blogs for a while, but it was only really after I broke my toe that I considered having a go. And I’m really enjoying myself, now I’ve recovered I still manage to find plenty of time to devote/waste on my blog.

We love the school pad and pen style layout to the site. How did that come about?

I’d been thinking about changing the style of the site for a little while. It was just the standard blogger style, which is pretty boring, however I really have no idea how to work computers properly so couldn’t change it. On the twohundredpercent blogger’s forum there was an extremely nice fellow who was offering help to bloggers who wanted their site to look better. Being very much within that category, I enlisted his help and together we came up with the site as you see it today.

You’ve recently started posting about the philosophy of football which ties in with your own studies. How easy or difficult has it been to make links between the two?

Extremely easy. If you take any contentious topic in football, the likelihood is that there is a philosophical base to the debate. I recently used the example of diving in football; it’s a subject which every football fan knows about and has an opinion on, but one which has an ethical background to it. Similarly I recently had a very interesting conversation with a fellow blogger about the merits and drawbacks of technology in football, which brought up the subjectivity of the rules in football. At the moment one referee’s yellow card is another referee’s red card, so would technology make the rules objective? Philosophy is not something which ever really enters the football fan’s mind in these debates, but it is there and I think it is very much worth looking at.

As a Chester City fan you are familiar with the lower leagues of English football. Do you feel that consequently you approach certain topics, e.g. money matters and terraces, differently to those just used to the glitz and glamour of the Premier League for example?

Firstly, it’s Chester FC now! And perhaps to an extent my outlook is different. I will probably have a very different view of how clubs should be run than a Premier league fan. Having suffered the death of Chester City last year, I prefer clubs who live within their means, whereas a Manchester City fan might think the huge spending that has gone on there is a brilliant thing. But when it comes to other topics, such as terracing, I think there is a general view, across all divisions, that it should be brought back, taking Germany’s excellent approach as the way forward. I don’t think that what a non-league fan has to say about certain topics is always going to be different to what a Premier league fan has to say, but perhaps the context in which it is said is.

Being a relative newcomer to the blogging game there are obviously challenges in terms of getting your name out to a wider audience. How have you been going about that?

At first I didn’t really know how to go about it. I just posted it up on facebook and got a few hits from my friends. After having a look at how other bloggers promote their blogs a bit, I’ve got a twitter (@richardtbellis) and am trying to become more engaged with the football blogging community as a whole, reading a wider variety of stuff than I used to and commenting where I think I can add to the debate. There is a huge audience out there, and whilst I’m not too worried about increasing my hits by a certain percentage, or to a certain amount, it’s always good to know that people are interested and reading your stuff. No matter what any blogger says, they do care about their audience.

Thanks Richard, we look forward to more Philosophy of Football!

Make sure you check out Richard’s blog, and also follow him on Twitter.

Author Info

Neil Sherwin

Neil Sherwin

Co-editor of BackPageFootball.com and BackPageRugby.com. Writes mostly on Premier League, A-League and MLS with contributions to other sites including TheFootballSack, InBedWithMaradona and Bloomberg's BSports. Has featured on The Guardian's Football Weekly.

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