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Changing Times

By: David Wilkinson
Date: 31/05/2007

WHAT a sad piece of news that the Sports Telegraph is to close. Both a piece of history and a present day change of routine - no more 7pm trips to the newsagent on Saturday evenings to read all about the match I had seen only 4 hours earlier.

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A break with the past as well when - as a kid in Mablethorpe - the man selling the Sports Telegraph outside the Book-in-Hand in the High Street was a Saturday institution.

But things do change and if it isn't viable then I suppose it has to go. However, it is perhaps as good an opportunity as ever to reflect on the future. There are more things which could change next season and I thought I would offer a few personal reflections.

With the demise of the Sports Telegraph the onus is clearly on John Fenty and Humberside Radio/Dave Burns to settle their personality differences and put the fans first. Their pointless spats frequently deny the fans exposure of the Club and it's news that both need. A simple word from John Fenty and Humberside Radio (whatever their sins are) don't bring commentaries - or post match reaction - or views of the manager/players etc.

At least the Sports Telegraph gave some coverage through reports and reaction. Now it has gone there will be no widely accessible or - more importantly - critical match day coverage if they fall out again. I fear this will fall on deaf ears because the root of the problem is the prickly sensitivities of the Club and their willingness to confuse criticism with critical reporting. However, I suppose it is reasonable to live in hope.

This Web Site could also give some thought to the future. At a time of change it is always appropriate to consider whether things could be done differently. I will offer some suggestions - with due humility - and you must do with them what you will.

Why not get rid of the features and obsession with betting that is a creeping blight on football. Betting at it's best is a slightly less direct way of lining a bookmakers pockets than simply handing the cash over directly. At it's worst it ruins lives and drives people to desperation.

In that case, some might say a Grimsby Town web-site is the right place for it - but it isn't. Football Clubs, newspapers, magazines, web-sites and pundits all influence people - and, particularly, impressionable young people and it is simply wrong that an entirely wonderful sport like football is seen as the natural partner for the gambling industry. For years the tobacco industry has linked its product with sex and sport and killed millions in the process. This web-site could at least play it's part by ending the gambling features.

I would also invite the main contributors to look back at their reporting over the last years and reflect on whether there is a contradiction between the partisan nature of a fans site and the simulated journalistic approach of many of the writers.

The attempts to use a pseudo football journalists style in presenting reports etc may give satisfaction on one level but it simply isn't necessary. Sometimes I sense in the overused cliche's an attempt to achieve balance that is appropriate in a newspaper report but not in a partisans fans account. Much more could be done to get behind the scenes, present more speculation and, instead of reproducing reports that are available in newspapers, radio, rival web-sites etc. to try to be more original and chase out some real news.

May I be forgiven, but there seems little point in presenting as news a verbatim report which has already appeared on the official site, on the GET and (sometimes) on Radio Humberside.

I hope this is received in the spirit it is given. Many people give their time freely and willingly and, as a simple - even gentle - reader, I thank them for it. It we are to lose the Sports Telegraph, however, perhaps we could reflect a little on change and how it can be a catalyst for reflection and improvement.

(Fishy Note: The Rivals network is owned bu UK Betting so we can do little to reduce those features)

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