The Waving Flag: A Happy Ending

Thursday 4 May 2023

A Happy Ending

No, not that sort.  This is about football & technology.  Be warned about the latter!

It all began when I decided not to renew my season ticket at Tranmere Rovers.  Two successive relegations, the last to the National League, coupled with the cost and a sixty mile round trip had sucked all the joy out of football for me after nearly twenty years.

I started watching Tranmere when they were in the 4th Division (now League Two).  At first I walked to the ground but ended up travelling from Warrington after a new job meant I had to relocate.

I suffered terrible "football withdrawal" and ended up going to watch Tranmere play Warrington Town in the Cheshire Senior Cup.  This was my first visit to Cantilever Park.  I enjoyed the game and the relaxed atmosphere of non-league football.

One visit soon turned into regular attendance.  Pretty soon I was a season ticket holder and once again I could walk to the ground.  I even watched the mid-week reserve games when I was one of twenty four regular spectators.

In the 2015/16 season Warrington Town set many new club records scoring over 100 league goals and winning over 30 league games.  They finished as worthy champions and were promoted to the Northern Premier League Premier Division.  So began a "football odyssey" with many special moments along the way.

Enter Twitter (and IFTTT)
I've been on Twitter since 2010.  Despite the recent upheavals, it was, and still is, really good for non-league football and fan gossip.  I quickly assembled a decent Twitter list of local sports media, WTFC fans and, of course, the official WTFC twitter feed.

After awhile I realised the tweets were somewhat ephemeral; here today gone tomorrow.  Nonetheless, they had inherent archival value not least because they often linked to non-Twitter sources like local newspaper articles, YouTube etc.

I was messing about with as the 2016/17 began.  I'd already used it to link various aspects of this blog to Twitter.  I wondered if I could use IFTTT to capture the football tweets, and the external links they contained, in a more permanent WTFC archive.

In the end, the solution was reasonably straightforward: add a unique double hashtag (#COYY #WTFC) to my WTFC tweets and use IFTTT to push each tweet containing the hashtags to a spreadsheet on Google docs.  With a bit of spreadsheet magic my permanent WTFC archive was up and running.  All I had to do was tweet all the news items and add the hashtags.

Seven years later
I started on 10 Dec 2016 and now the archive contains over 3,000 tweets. This shows the number of WTFC tweets each month:

As I hoped, the vast majority of entries contain links to external media sources.  To make the archive even more "search friendly" I started categorising the tweets. From 2019 my tweets are prefaced with: preview; report, review, photos, video, etc.

All things must pass
On Monday, 01 May 2023 I watched Warrington Town win promotion to the National League North with a 1-0 win in the play-off final.  To say I was happy is an understatement!  This is my second promotion season with WTFC and my archive now covers all seven years WTFC spent in the NPL Premiere Division.

Maintaining the archive started as a labour of love.  However, this seems like a good point to end the project because:

  • The intensity of the media coverage has increased each season.
  • It became ever so slightly onerous tweeting all the various sources.
  • Doubtless, the media coverage will increase in the National League North.
  • The chaos that is Twitter presages an uncertain future.

I know my friends & fellow supporters have enjoyed my WTFC tweets but, all told, it seems the right time to step back and just enjoy the football.

1 comment :

Vexillia said...

Talk about good timing! Tomorrow IFTT will remove Twitter integration from their basic (free) tier so I would not have been able to continue the archive without switching to a completely manual, and far more onerous, process.

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