“[I]f I had waited long enough I probably never would have written anything at all since there is a tendency when you really begin to learn something about a thing to not want to write about it but rather to keep on learning about it always and at no time, unless, you are very egotistical, which, of course, accounts for many books, will you be able to say: now I know all about this and will write about it.“
Death in the Afternoon
Lost Boyos was, like so many ill thought-through ideas, conceived in the pub. It was Christmas Eve, 2011 in the Glantaff Inn, Quakers Yard when, armed with nothing but a witty pun (at least in our beery minds) and some vague, football-themed ideas that could be tenuously tied to it, the two lost Lost brothers decided that 2012 would be the year when they would put finger to the not-so proverbial keyboard.
Our main theme was to be Welsh footballers, managers, or coaches who had spent a stage of their career overseas. We knew, of course, about the past successes of John Charles with Juventus, the more recent, less fruitful overseas stints of Ian Rush and Mark Hughes, as well as a handful of other Welshman brave enough to have attempted a football career in foreign lands, but were far from experts on the subject. However, taking Hemingway’s advice, we just got on with it and on January 16th, 2012- exactly one year ago- the blog went live with a look at the career of Craig Davies, particularly his brief spell in Italy with Verona.
Initially, the blog was just a means for two football-mad brothers to remain in contact with one another from their bases on opposite sides of the world in Manchester and Seoul. Of course, we had entertained the prospect that some people might want to read our work, but what has happened in the 12 months since has surpassed all our expectations. Now, we are not going to claim that our little blog has set football’s online community on fire, but in our own small corner of a saturated field, we have achieved much more than we had hoped.
Among the other Lost Boyos of old that we have unearthed (for ourselves, at least, if not for the more-learned Welsh football fans) this past 12 months, our own favourite was probably Dai Astley. Like us, Astley was a Merthyr lad who (quite unlike us) won two British Championships with Wales, played in France with Metz, and managed Inter Milan. Of the current crop, we have been privileged to speak directly with Welsh footballers playing across three continents. Calum Antell, Mika Chunuonsee, Gareth Evans, and Liam Killa were as insightful about their lives abroad as their were generous with their time.
We soon added fans, namely ourselves, to those qualifying for Lost Boyo status and our groundhopping series, Lost In…, has proved to be the most popular segment on the blog. The largest chunk of our readership has come from fans of Swansea City eager to get the latest pub and pie recommendations; however, proving that for football fans it is not just their own name they like to see written down, but also that of their football team, Lost In… has also found itself being posted on fans’ online forums across Britain, and occasionally beyond. On a single day in August, a visit to Hillsborough for a League Cup tie between Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham received more than 1,000 views, with around half of those coming from owlstalk.co.uk. Iconic Hillsborough is one of more than 50 trips that we’ve reported on, including several visits to non-league grounds of northern England and lower league football in South Korea.
A further, pleasing surprise, has been the involvement of our dad. For most football fans, football DNA is a paternal hereditary trait, and things were no different in our household. We never doubted that we would be able to count on his encouragement and interest, but his active participation has provided us both with another link to home. At first, he was just a reader and spreader of the word in the office and the local pub, but latterly he has become a regular commenter, and most recently a fully-fledged Lost Boyo, fulfilling the role of (to use football phone-in parlance) ‘shandy man’ on trips to Llanelli and Hereford.
Later in the first chapter of Death in the Afternoon, Hemingway goes on to note how interest in any art is likely to grow the more you learn about it. Whether football, or blogging, or blogging about football is art is a debate for elsewhere, but what is certain is that the more we learn about the Welshmen who have played or are playing overseas, the more we want to learn about the others who have treaded that same path. Hopefully we’ll continue to find the time in the next 12 months to share what we find and to keep our readers informed of our own football-watching travels.
Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read our blog in the past 12 months. Your interest is really appreciated and every click on the blog has meant a lot to us. We hope to see you back here sometime in the coming months.