THERE is something heart-warmingly British about contacting your local newspaper in times of hardship.
Unsurprisingly, last weekend’s 7-1 hammering at Reading prompted a deluge of emails, phone calls and letters to The Bolton News Towers from fans. One bloke even sent a disgruntled carrier pigeon*.
The act of composing your thoughts on screen, on paper, or simply screaming them down the line to the sports desk’s work experience student is a cathartic one. It makes you feel better.
Twitter and the other social media outlets have made it even easier to harangue your local journalist. Provided you can keep within 140 characters, you can air your views to the reporter in question – and the rest of cyberspace – in seconds.
Within the time our match report was posted online on Saturday at 5pm and our reporter returning to his computer from the post-match press conference at 5.30pm, there had been more than 150 tweets aimed in his direction. Unsurprisingly, few were fit to print in a family newspaper, and a good half-dozen were from fellow local journalists around the country who had seen the score and felt compelled to issue a tweet of moral support.
You might think such interactivity has rendered the good old-fashioned letter to the editor redundant. But you would be wrong.
Emails are all well and good but nothing, NOTHING, conveys pure supporter passion like pen to lined paper and a first class stamp. Capital letters are compulsory to hammer home the point you are making, although (double) underlines also do the trick.
Plenty of people deride the need for local press in this digital age and, very clearly, the industry needs to move with the times.
But where else would this anger be directed were it not for us?
Supporters would be queuing for therapy, or randomly standing on street corners berating the absence of half-time substitutions, or a decent left-back.
Trawling through our archives it is clear this has been going on for as long as men and women have been interested in reading about professional sport.
This excerpt from the Bolton Evening News was from a conversation all the way back in 1939. When the telephone bell at the Evening News office rang rather late one Saturday night the following conversation ensued: “What the devil do you mean by not printing the result of the match? I’ve searched the whole paper and I’ve searched the whole paper again and cannot find it. In future I shall rely on Sunday papers.”
“Which result did you want?”
“Why the result of today’s game of course.”
“Yes but which game are you speaking about?”
“The Wanderers, of course.”
“Well if you see the result in the Sunday papers will you kindly inform us. You see, they had no match today.”
The conversation ended with a slamming down of the telephone at the other end.
*The bird may or may not have been disgruntled. It is hard to tell with pigeons.