In the Blog: The Football Hobo

by Neil Sherwin

After a bit of a hiatus, In the Blog returned to Back Page Football this week, and taking the stand now is Alan Smithy of The Football Hobo. Alan’s Guardian-endorsed site has been up and running since just before Christmas and is slowly building an archive of must read work. Once you’ve read the interview below, make sure you head on over to the blog!

Hi Alan, we’ve been browsing through The Football Hobo and we’re impressed. Where did the inspiration for the blog come from?

I’d been reading the great and the good (and the downright ropey) of the blogging scene for a while, and like Yosser Hughes in Boys From The Black Stuff I had an “I can do that; gissa job” moment. Except that it’s not so much a job as an utter time-thief, and the pay’s rubbish. Actually, that sounds quite a bit like my job. Anyway, so far I’m finding it thoroughly enjoyable taking part in the community, and actually quite rewarding, too. As for the name? I’ll just claim all the good and inventive ones were taken – the problems of coming late to the party, I suppose.

Congratulations on making it into The Guardian’s ‘Top 100 Football Blogs to Follow in 2011′. Only the best made it into that right?

They have impeccable taste, don’t they? Seriously I was frankly stunned to be put in there. I only started Football Hobo in early December, so to have been seen by anyone, much less appear on that list within a month of my beginnings, I found remarkable. It was certainly a massive confidence boost. The aim now, I suppose, is to still be around and worthy of going on their 2012 list.

Being a relatively new blog, how have you found getting your name out there? Any advice for anyone who may be considering getting their own site off the ground?

It’s tricky, but then I suppose it all depends on what you want out of the whole blogging adventure. If you’re looking for it being a route to fame, fortune and riches then you’ll probably have to work a good deal harder than I have. I’ve written a few bits for different sites and found that that can help in getting your name about. It also helps to get involved talking to other bloggers, and collaborating too – they’re a good source of inspiration, ideas and support. If you’re doing it because you enjoy it (and if you don’t enjoy it then why are you doing it?) then just keep on writing and see what comes.

You’ve got a feature titled ‘Football, heal thyself’. Care to fill us in on what that’s all about?

There’s a number of little changes that could be made to the game that would improve the lot of the fan (and the player, manager and pundit by extension, on occasion). We’re not in need of radical reform to improve our lot, by and large, so I figured that ‘Football, heal thyself’ would be handy little hook to hang all my little rants about the game’s foibles on. Everything from suggested changes to the laws of the game to banning post-goal celebration music inside grounds can fit in there.

There are quite a lot of club-specific blogs out there but you have chosen to steer clear of that. Any affiliation to a particular league or club?

What colour’s my bindle, you mean? It’s multi-coloured. I don’t want to hang my hat on a particular team or league, because I find the partizan nature of football and its fans increasingly tiresome. I still go to games, of course, but I don’t want to be writing about one particular club or league all the time and getting involved in the same old circular arguments and accusations of bias. I still don’t think I’ve quite found exactly what I’ll be writing about on Football Hobo, probably because there’s so much to get stuck into. Some sites have a lovely niche, and so in a way it’s easier to find things to write about – the world’s my oyster, and it’s a daunting prospect.

It’s very much a clichéd question but sure we’ll ask it anyway – what does the future hold for The Football Hobo? Open to offers of a few quid and a roof over your head?

And I’ll reply with a clichéd answer: I have no idea. Honestly, though, that’s the truth. There is no ‘grand plan’. There isn’t even an ordinary plan. I’m just flying by the seat of my pants and making it up as a I go along. If people are daft enough to offer me a few quid they’re more than welcome, but a roof over my head might be more likely (and appreciated on those bitter, cold nights). I’ll keep watching, talking and most importantly writing about football, and hopefully have fun and meet a few characters along the road.

Finally, we have to ask – has the ‘Y’ at the end of your surname always been there or is it a stage name type thing to distinguish yourself from the other two (for now) more famous Alan Smiths?

It’s always been there – any connection to big-nosed former goal poachers turned pundits or balding Eagles is purely coincidental! My ancestors were clearly metalworkers, or just rather unimaginative.

Follow Alan on Twitter, and visit Football Hobo.

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