In the back of the net - football websites
I've been a massive fan of the beautiful game ever since my Dad took me along to a Nottingham Forest match soon after the 1990 World Cup. Seeing my England heroes such as Des Walker, Stuart Pearce and Steve Hodge in action made me decide to be a lifelong red (even though we only drew 1-1 with QPR!).
Forest's fortunes have varied since then, but I've never stopped loving football; I'll watch games in the Premiership, Football League, even the Spanish and Italian leagues. If a ball's being kicked around, I'm happy to watch it. I also enjoy reading about football on the internet, following all the latest headlines, match reports, and gossip. Here are my top five football websites.
1. The Guardian
For me, this is the best football site going. The Guardian's football section consistently breaks the latest stories, marrying them with in-depth analysis of the game's latest twists and turns. There's live minute-by-minute reports on games as they are happening, along with The Fiver, a daily email that takes an irreverent look at the stories of the day.
Then there's a football blog, a fixtures and statistics section, a weekly round up of the best sporting YouTube videos, and best of all, the (free!) Football Weekly podcast, presented by James Richardson (who you may remember from Channel 4's cult classic show, Football Italia). The most recent addition is a weekly column from 'The Secret Footballer', a real player giving us a refreshingly honest view on the state of the sport. Outstanding.
2. BBC Football
The BBC's site is filled with video and audio clips, not only of interviews with managers and players; but also actual goals and highlights of games. You can also click through to programmes like Match of the Day and The Football League Show on iPlayer. Then there's the latest news, results and fixtures, and a great gossip section. If you're interested in playing the game as well as following it, you can also check out the comprehensive Skills section showing you all the techniques top pros use, including how to bend a ball like Beckham!
Football Filter is an amazing site that strangely offers very little of its own content. It shows you, at a glance, all the latest stories from a multitude of sites at once, broken down into one line descriptions in sections such as: 'broadsheets', 'tabloids', 'top journos' 'blogs', 'broadcasters' and 'podcasts.' It's simple and easy to use, almost as if the the site is a middle-man helping you on your way to the stories that most interest you.
4. Football 365
For a more opinionated take on the latest comings and goings in the footy world, check out Football 365. The site is full of fresh takes on the latest results and trends in football, and the Mediawatch section is just hilarious. The one downside of the site is that it's full of adverts and feels 'busier' than the other sites. But it's more down to earth than the BBC's or the Guardian's sites - it feels more like you're reading the thoughts (and occasionally, rants) of the football expert in the pub rather than the considered analysis of paid journalists. Which is always fun.
If Football 365 feels like you're getting the views of the man in the pub, When Saturday Comes feels like you're getting the views of a football scholar who's just reclined into his armchair, lit his pipe and told you his considered, if random thoughts on the beautiful game. WSC describes itself as 'Britain's leading independent football magazine' and has just celebrated its 25th anniversary.
The website replicates the magazine's alternative feel, taking a real joy in the minor yet (to supporters at least) important details of the game. For example, there's a weekly email called The Weekly Howl that details, among other things, favourite old football strips and team badges. Meanwhile, daily features find a fresh angle on the game that you won't find anywhere else. A Guardian article about the magazine's 25 years said it provides us with 'the voice of the fans', and that sounds just about right.
Charlie is a journalist and scriptwriter specialising in articles and films featuring deaf culture and sign language. He has written for The Guardian online and has contributed to programmes for Radio 4, while his films have won international awards. He also works in the arts, helping to make theatre accessible for deaf people.