This is one of the toughest posts we’ve ever had to write, but after over a decade of being the custodians of BRFCS.com, it’s time for us to stand aside and hand over the reins to somebody with more time and, more importantly, fresh ideas and enthusiasm. When we temporarily took on the management of the site when the site founder Lee Grooby took up a position with the club, I don’t think either us of envisaged we’d still be involved a decade later.
For much of that time we believe the site has been something people could be proud of for having a strong community and a reputation for doing the right thing. The health of the site has often mirrored the fortunes of the club and in recent years our resolve has been tested to the full. Given that the site during that time spiralled down to the point where a few good old-timers were fighting against a tide of anger, misinformation, mistrust and apathy, we did give consideration to accepting one of the very generous offers we’ve had to buy the site off us. But as we inherited the site as a not-for-profit community project, it felt important to us that even if we couldn’t dedicate our own time and efforts to it any more, we should stay true to its original aims and hand everything over to somebody we could trust to continue running it with the same aims in mind.
It’s therefore our very great pleasure (and with more than a little relief) to hand over the running of the site to Wen Y Hu, who hopefully you’ll all know has acted as site editor for several years and has hosted and produced most of our podcasts (which now number over 80 and get a staggering number of listeners every episode). Whilst Wen will be bringing in his own team, we sincerely hope as many of the people who have helped us over recent years offer their services to him.
It wouldn’t be right if we didn’t say a few Thank Yous at this point, but that’s a much harder task than you’d imagine as so many people have helped make the site what it is and no matter how long of a post we make and how long we deliberate over it, we’re bound to miss some people. So if we’ve missed you out, it’s not because we didn’t appreciate the work you did, it’s because we’re getting on a bit and our combined memories aren’t what they were.
Obviously, as we’ve been reminded from time to time, we weren’t responsible for the genesis of the site or its initial popularity — that was all down to Lee Grooby. When Lee left to work for the club, we, along with Paul, as the longest-serving mods, agreed to continue his work, inheriting some of his team (including Brownie, JonnyH and Ricky) and soon building our own, including den and SouthAussieRover in the backroom and Alan75 looking after the news.
Very soon after we took over, we realised the Internet advertising bubble had broken and with the collapse of the Total Football advertising network, we were left with an unsustainable business model and had to go to the fans for money to keep things going. We were amazed by the response and people didn’t just donate, many even set up direct debits and it was at this point we realised we didn’t just have a popular website on our hands, we had a real community. Thankfully, some astute cost-cutting and a better advertising strategy meant we were soon back in the black.
As the Internet grew, the new forums grew massively in popularity and our moderation team soon grew to include Flopsy, Yawnsie, modes98, CornwallRover and DudeAbides and, more recently, trueblue, Tom M, El Tombro, HemelRover and dazmaz. cn174 was with us from the start, initially doing the web design (taking over from tchocky in the early days) and then also contributing to the backroom discussions, as did Modi (aka Beta Ray Bill) for a while. As the site grew, and we outgrew normal commercial webhosting and had to start managing our own server infrastructure, Biddy came on board to manage that. More recently Biddy has also been responsible for the server migration, not to mention the brilliant Member Map and 92 Tracker. cn174 deserves mention for her work on the site skins, avatars and gifs as does perthblue02 for doing all the T-shirt designs and helping out with site graphics. AndyNeil (aka FernhurstRover) also deserves our thanks for doing the accounts for the last few years.
One of the more under-appreciated projects we did was the history section written by FourLaneBlue and cn174, along with additions by John Howarth, which is still an unparallelled online resource of Rovers’ history. Other great projects from this era include den’s “Greatest Ever Team” (which can now be found in Messageboard Gold) and the match reports of IHTD, Macky and especially Scotty.
A few years later Wen offered to help collate the transfer window news (back in the days of Alan Nixon’s “nicko’s 11 O’Clockers”) and in no time, with Kamy’s assistance, had taken on the management of the news and content side of the site and was producing the podcasts.
Some of the things the site has been responsible for have been the “real life” events we’ve been involved in, including two rounds of international Fans vs Fans games (home and away against both Turkish side Genclerbirligi and Red Bull Salzburg of Austria) which wouldn’t have happened without an army of helpers — from people like Baris, Orcan and Max from the other clubs to those who helped deal with the press, did radio interviews, ferried people around and even put them up as guests in their houses and of course those who turned up, supported and played. These games also involved us in our first real dealings with the club, who were brilliant, both at helping us liaise with the other clubs’ fans and always pointing us in the right direction. We really couldn’t have achieved half of what we did with these events without great people, not just the names you’d recognise like John Williams and Tom Finn, but also lesser known, but equally hardworking, people like Greg Coar, Lyndsey Talbot and Simon Williams.
More recently, BRFCS has continued to put on events, including an excellent sportsman’s dinner organised brilliantly by Gary “thenonda” McAuliffe and an army of helpers on the night, with Simon Garner as a speaker and some excellent MCing by Mark Woodward as his film character Tash McDermott. Also, our taking on the Raising of the Coffin ceremony, when it became apparent the long-time organisers in Bamber Bridge weren’t going to get permission, was supported by dozens of volunteers who helped on the day and wouldn’t have been possible at all without the very, very hard work of Dawn and Ste F (EwoodDawn and bob fleming to most of you) and Ozz, who as well as organising all the helpers had to manage a mountain of legal red tape.
Of course, as fun as the events are, the lifeblood of the site has been the content, which all of you contribute to, be it through the forums, the match previews so many of you have done, Parsonblue’s brilliant match reports, Eddie’s matchday reports, Wen and Kamy’s excellent podcasts backed up by regulars such as Eddie and Paul, J*B’s early work with the podcasts and then his help with Anna for BRFCS TV, bob fleming’s comical monthly reviews — in fact everyone who has even taken a second to come up with something original and hit send. We did consider doing a shout out to notable posters over the years, but this post is already too long.
We first talked to Wen about taking over some time ago (the delay in it happening was all down to us) and he has some fantastic things in the pipeline. But we’d also like to see that this dawn of a new era in BRFCS history is a launchpad for those who have drifted away from the site (especially the forums) over recent years to get involved again. This really matters to us more than anything, so the best way anyone can say goodbye to us and “Thank You” is to actually get involved with the new BRFCS.
Here’s to the next 10 years!
Glenn and Ste