Hello, old friends.
It’s been a while. If you hadn’t figured it out, my job as a high-powered social media guru at an Ivy League institution has kept me from the fun here at Unprofessional Foul. #humblebrag
I’m starting the day out with a post, but you should be ready for a lot of content from us today. Some of the greatest hits will come back (GBWTF? Maybe!), some names from the past (who was that Spinachdip guy anyway?), and some good stuff from the humble folks here at UF. I’m glad I get to get things started.
One of the things that has been bouncing around in my mind the last three months is the circumstances — and the writing — that brought me humbly yet confidently to James T’s e-mail box on March 1, 2010, with this:
My name’s Ian Cahir. I post sporadically as HirsheysKissMyArse on UF and other sites (although I think I got banned from Deadspin today so maybe I should change the handle). I’m writing because I want to offer my services to unprofessionalfoul.com. I was a newspaper sports guy for 8 of my 13 years in journalism, and I used to run a site called sacticket.com, the entertainment site for the Sacramento Bee.
I was the writer on an American Idol blog (yeah, yeah, I know. It was for work), I produced a podcast with my then-wife and a friend about shows like Heroes and Lost, and I spent a season writing on and off for epltalk. Why did I stop, you ask? Two reasons. First, my old job had a non-compete clause for all outlets. Second, epltalk wasn’t really going in a direction that fit with my style and mentality.
I’m a good and quick writer. More to the point, I’m a really good editor. It doesn’t look like you have anyone on the west coast, so I can help in that regard. And honestly, I just want to get back into writing about the sport I love.
Seriously. I wrote that. James and others have told me that they laughed for hours at the formality of the e-mail (and that I didn’t realize Autoglass was on the West Coast). And I know I buried the lead.
I used to write for EPL Talk.
Yes, The Gaffer pimped his awesomeness even then. I didn’t like a lot of the talk behind the scenes, and I thought the writing was weak, so I used a non-compete rule at work as an excuse to stop writing for him. But enough about that.
James eventually sent this to the UF crew:
I think he’ll work out, even though I hate his team with the fire of a million suns. At least he’s not a bandwagoner with a fresh C-Ron shirt, right? He at least has a history with the team that pre-dates Wayne Rooney.
Since then, James has asked me why I wrote such a serious cover letter to try to get an audition with UF. The answer was simple: This was a big-time step up in class from my previous blog work. These guys knew their soccer inside and out. Hell, they even occasionally used British spellings. I figured they must have tons and tons of traffic, and I needed a writing outlet from an increasingly stressful real job.
I found out later that I was more of a UF groupie than some, although the street cred that UF had was second to only a few. And that street cred came from the writing and the attitude. I wanted to be a part of it, and in the time since, I think I added some fun, a voice of United reason, some heart in places and a different viewpoint.
But the reason I’m here today (550 words into this) is to point out the posts that helped me fall in love with UF. These aren’t the best posts or the longest posts or the best-researched posts. These are the ones that made me laugh, made me think and made me want to be part of the UF crew. My apologies to the writers not on this list (Spectator, The Likely Lad, original Ian, Sven, the etc.), but I had to keep this brief.
This list is chronological, not in order of favorite or best. It tells the UF story in my humble eyes.
“In other news: the sky is blue, Maradona loved cocaine, and Ronaldo is fat,” James T, 12/28/07
I was working during the holiday break on advertising for the performing arts center where I worked when a buddy of mine who loves Joey Barton (don’t ask) sent me this link from California. The headline alone was brilliant (even if James — or Lingering Bursitis as he was known then — used the stupid flippin’ Oxford comma), and the way he killed Joey Barton without really saying a mean word blew me away.
This website has some balls, I thought, but it only had like 20 posts on it (it was the first week of existence), so I didn’t bookmark it. Blogs were a dime a dozen, remember.
Point and Counterpoint on ESPN, Jacob and Mike Georger, 6/28/08
I didn’t come back to UF until summer 2008, when some other sports blog (the original Awful Announcing, I think) linked to this back and forth about the Four Letter’s commitment to soccer and maybe creating ESPN3 with the EPL as its centerpiece. How’d that work out, by the way?
While Jacob — then known as ü75 — was polite and well-spoken in his excellent point, commenter Georger (who I still haven’t met in person) was crass, mean and nearly obscene in his counterpoint. Little did I know at the time that this was actually a restrained Georger compared to the one who, when I wished everyone on Twitter a happy new year, responded simply, “cocksucker.”
Yet both made complete, cogent arguments that could sway any non-retarded human. This wasn’t normal bloggery, I thought. This was writing. I went back through the Euro 2008 liveblogs and kicked myself for not bookmarking the site six months earlier. I was hooked.
“Last Call: Who will you bring home?”, The Fan’s Attic, 6/17/09
Like most of the other UFers, I was a commenter on Deadspin under the aforementioned moniker “HirsheysKissMyArse.”
(Quick aside: I picked that name during the everyone-make-a-pun era on Deadspin, and it was after one of David Hirshey’s masturbatorial Wenger posts. I loved his writing, but I hate Arsenal, so I went that way. The slam was on his team, not on him. I had no idea James T and others were good friends with him, and I apologized profusely when I finally met him in person at James’s wedding. He bought me a beer and I fondled his ‘stache, so all is well.)
During the DUAN revolt of 2009, I was a regular lurker at UF and a regular reader at Deadspin, but I was on the latter less and less. When DUAN went on rotation, I stopped reading except for the night that it was at UF. First, TFA did an excellent job of putting the post together with the bewbz and a good background of the site and the good things there. Second, the conversation wasn’t normal DUAN-y crap. There was soccer talk. And it was knowledgeable. The trolls were minimal, and people felt free to admit they liked The Beautiful Game without fear of Daulerio’s comment ninjas banning them. It was good to see, and it increased the site’s cred in my eyes.
“Rest in peace, Bigus. You will be remembered, occasionally,” Norfolk Ned, 8/9/09
My favorite post on UF. Period.
Ned hit this one out of the park, with the details (the Craig Bellamy golf club) and the earnestness. I honestly thought Ned was a different person from the mean and caustic Bigus. And he is, in a way. But this post also was such a whip-smart ripping of his own team that it showed that even though UFers love their sides to a fault, they are mostly not immune to reality (I’m looking at you, Likely Lad). Brilliant.
“United supporters still horribly stupid,” Precious Roy, 1/22/10
Of all the people on the blog with whom I have disagreed, PR and I most often have divergent points of view. That’s not a criticism. And this post was what started me thinking I wanted to write for UF. So it’s technically your fault, PR.
While his hate for United is sad and worthy of my pity, the point he makes is spot on. It’s one I’ve made in numerous less-eloquent ways during my time on the site. It’s not a long post, but it gets to the point, finds the truth in the situation and calls the wussies out. That’s great writing.
“Fox Sports gives TV show to the anti-christ,” The NY Kid, 1/22/10
After PR’s brilliant post came this from The NY Kid. I was sold. I had to be part of this crew. Why? One hyphenated word: uber-pendejo.
So I waffled for about three weeks, then wrote and re-wrote the e-mail I would send to UF’s editing team (which was, at that time, actually James T and a wild turkey). When I finally got up the balls to send it, I honestly felt like I’d sent off a resume to some major media conglomerate (which was actually a house in rural Pennsylvania).
What has followed has been a great almost-two years of knowing these people and being part of this blog. If you’re an old-timer, take a look and find that post that sold you on UF. If you’re new or just passing through, take a look and see the brilliant (and sometimes wacky) stuff that has lived on these pages. It’s (mostly) amazing.
Thanks for taking my e-mail, guys.
The Stretford End
a.k.a. Goldenballs (for my first audition piece)
a.k.a. Ian Cahir
@UFStretfordEnd on Twitter