I was following the trial of John Terry on twitter recently and a tweet I came across made me pause to think of how access to football news has evolved since the days I started following the English Premier League. In the race to break the news first, certain journos and wanna-be journos had logged into twitter through two separate devices with each device having a tweet ready to be sent. One phone or PC would have the words “John Terry: Not Guilty” and another “John Terry: Guilty” with thumbs ready to click on ‘Tweet’. The race to break the news was on.
Compare this with the late nineties when the most up to date way of accessing such news would have been through Sky News through their sports bulletin every twenty past the hour. Sky News used to be televised through the now defunct STV/ TvAfrica which would be on during the day and late at night. If your team had made a signing or had a player injured, you either had to stay up late to catch Sky news (which was a problem considering we were in primary school and had a bedtime to abide to) or wait for the sports news on local news which was brief and useless. I remember the disgust when you would wait for KTN sports news and after two or three news pieces, Tony Gachukia or Robert Soi would inform that that was it for sports news without giving you the news you were waiting for.
Lack of internet meant that the local dailies would carry a sports piece two days after the news broke. This was due to the fact that they would not have accessed the piece from Associated Press meaning that the piece would be forwarded to the next day.
The internet started to become available intermittently at the turn of the millennium. The wait for ‘news’ was getting more and more excruciating with each passing season. Finally, something had to give. In the summer of 2002 after the Japorea World Cup, rumours were abound that Sir Alex wanted to sign English defender Rio Ferdinand from rivals Leeds United. Leeds had only signed Rio two seasons before, breaking the transfer record for a defender in the process but financial difficulties meant they had to sell their assets. If United were to sign him, they would have to cough up quite an amount. I longed for the deal to be completed as he would have added to our defensive ranks which wasn’t the strongest at the time. The tension was getting to me and when I heard (belatedly as was the case back then) that Rio had undergone a medical at United, the excitement got the better of me. It was this sequence of events that led to me to breaking my online virginity. I quickly rushed to the nearest cyber, Naitel at my friend Arnold’s place and despite the prohibitive fee of five bob per minute (five times the current average rate), nothing was gonna stop this moment of destiny.
With help from Arnold’s brother Steve, I typed in the magical words in the address field.. ‘www.manutd.com.’ The red and black background on the website was contrasted with a picture of Rio in a white suit being unveiled at Old Trafford by the manager. Alas, he had arrived.
The joy I experienced at that moment and the significance of it all is understood better in hindsight. Yesterday marked ten years to the day this happened and what an experience it has been. In his time at United, Rio has won five Premier League titles, one FA cup, the Champions League and numerous other trophies in the most successful period the club has had in its long history. On a personal note, access to news has gone from being a tedious process to being bombarded with news as it happens. To that extent, I have gone from consuming news and analysis on the net to this, providing content on the net through a blog. The wheel has indeed come full circle.
As the Terry verdict was announced to a flurry of ‘Not Guilty’ tweets, one couldn’t help but help but crack a wistfully nostalgic smile at how technology has evolved and with it, the speed with which we access the news. The mind boggles at the thought of writing a similar article ten years from now and how things will be by then. So here’s to another decade of technological evolution and continued success by the greatest team of them all. Cheers.