A couple of days ago, as a bit of levity in this dark, cold world we live in, we kicked off the first ever Biro d’Or competition to determine who is regarded as the best football writer in the world today.
Having compiled a list of sixty-four writers with the help of Twitter and some friends, the first stage comprised a qualifying competition to whittle the sixty-four down to thirty-two. The results can be viewed on this Google document:
Given the evident popularity of this tournament, we feel as though a few points of detail need to be clarified:
First off, there is an evident lack of diversity within the kabal of football writers at the present time. In light of the fact that this vote is open to the public, our (admittedly poor) attempt to include as many voices from as many contexts was neutralised in the course of the qualifying stage so that the remaining thirty-two are very much white, male (for the most part) and middle class. Of course, we don’t say this to force a particular agenda down the throats of those participating in this poll. However, we do want to remind you that the Team of John O’Sheas initiative is committed to increasing the exposure of writers who do not come from these privileged groupings. We would encourage you to send us the work of writers who have been under-appreciated for precisely these reasons and we will do our best to give them a voice within the world of football journalism.
What qualifies a ‘Football Writer’?
James Richardson will be well known to many of you as the former face of Channel 4’s Football Italia programme and co-presenter of Setanta Sports’ The Friday Football Show and Football Matters shows. As of yesterday, he was also the face of BT Sports’ European Football Show which has unfortunately been shut down. He is also well known for his hosting of the Guardian’s Football Weekly podcast. When it comes to writing, however, he is less well known although he has appeared in the hallowed pages of the Guardian itself as well as in Four Four Two magazine.
We had initially included him as a number of our followers suggested he should be included. It had not occured to us that he would be particularly popular, given that this is a competition showcasing football writing. However, in the recent group stages of the competition he has been extremely popular, leading some people to complain about the fact that he was included at all. As a result, we are running a poll so that you, the fans, can decide his fate. Should he be allowed to continue or not?
@teamofjohnoshea … fair that we put this to a vote. Should James Richardson:
— Jon Mackenzie (@Jon_Mackenzie) May 20, 2017
Personality vs Content
Following the James Richardson scandal, one of the members of the Team had an interesting conversarion with Rory Smith, one of the writers in the competition. They discussed how personality is clearly integral to the decisions people are making when faced with a vote between four writers. Whilst it is clearly impossible for personality and content to be entirely disconnected in any way, we would like to remind the voters that this is a competition which celebrates football writing as an end in itself not simply the personalities of the people who craft it. As such, please do your best to consider these writers on their merits as writers as well as however well they come across on other media–radio, television, podcasts, etc.
Where from here?
The group stages will end on Sunday night. From there we go into the knock-out stages. The voting for each stage will run for 2 days. The format for these will be as follows:
Match 1: Winner of A vs Runner up of B
Match 2: Winner of B vs Runner up of A
Match 3: Winner of C vs Runner up of D
Match 4: Winner of D vs Runner up of C
Match 5: Winner of E vs Runner up of F
Match 6: Winner of F vs Runner up of E
Match 7: Winner of G vs Runner up of H
Match 8: Winner of H vs Runner up of G
QF1: Winner of Match 1 vs Winner of Match 2
QF2: Winner of Match 3 vs Winner of Match 4
QF3: Winner of Match 5 vs Winner of Match 6
QF4: Winner of Match 7 vs Winner of Match 8
SF1: Winner of QF1 vs Winner of QF2
SF2: Winner of QF3 vs Winner of QF4
Winner of SF1 vs Winner of SF2
Whilst this competition is certainly tongue in cheek, there is a serious element to it. Football writing is something that should be celebrated as a thing which brings enjoyment to a lot of people. Hopefully, this tournament has also showcased how much talent there is out there and should encourage each and every one of us of the importance that good writing has in our lives. As we said before, please send us pieces to showcase the lessen-known writers in football. And do check out our own Submissions page if you want to give your own writing more exposure.
A Team of John O’Sheas