Yesterday being a very special day for our co-founder Nick Bylund, I took the opportunity to initiate a conversation with this website’s co-founder I’ve been wanting to have for some time. For those of you who don’t know, Nick and I met through the Back to the Cottage campaign to ensure Fulham’s exile at Loftus Road ended and a return to the club’s historic home was secured. He was a kind host to me on two summer visits to Stockholm in successive years as we formed this website after taking the difficult decision to leave the Svenksa Fans platform and set up a new website.
Writing for this website was a natural progression for me. Because I couldn’t play much sport other than cricket as I was born three months premature with cerebral palsy, I found it very difficult to fit in at all of my mainstream schools. Writing gave me an opportunity to express myself that I didn’t otherwise have. I set up my own sports newspaper aged 13 passing it around at parties and bugging a great deal of people to buy it. Sportscene, as it was known, got a big break when I bumped into some advertising execs at a neighbour’s party and soon I was interviewing Pele and Eddie Jordan live on national television and radio.
The people who encouraged me to go into journalism had me back to the following year and had the great privilege of asking Goran Ivanisevic one of the very first questions in his London press conference once he had beaten Pat Rafter in the most extraordinary of Wimbledon finals. This website quickly went from strength to strength and gratified by how many people say its the first place they look for Fulham news.
But my career plans took a sharp turn almost as soon as I joined the Labour Party on my fifteenth birthday (yes, it was a present – from my mum, Kate, who has been an inspiration, companion, carer and my best friend, throughout my life). I’ve met some terrific people both in my local Acton branch, during my University education down in Exeter, both through the student organisation we reconstituted and the existing local party, as well as across the country. I also had possibly the best summer of my life when I was fortunate enough to work on David Miliband’s ultimately unsuccessful Labour leadership campaign two years, where I met some extraordinarily capable young people and became encouraged at the ability of communities to drive change.
I never envisaged running for a seat on my local Council so soon after leaving University, but there’s a nice symmetry in the fact that two of the people I respect the most asked me to seriously consider it on the very evening that Barack Obama was about to win a historic victory four years ago. I was fortunate enough to be elected for the very ward I’ve grown up in and I’m immensely proud of the projects we’re delivering even in the midst of the swingeing cuts inflicted on local councils by a coalition Government that received no mandate for the devastation they are currently wreaking on millions of people who suddenly feel very helpless.
The situation right here in usually idyllic and peaceful Ealing is far from serene. The creeping personalisation of politics, inspired by the echo chambers of right-wing websites, has reached a dangerous tipping point, with people who decided to enter politics for noble reasons, having their personal lives invaded simply for venturing a different opinion. I’ve suffered at the hands of one particular councillor, who is experienced enough now to know better (here and here), and the incompetence of a man I used to respect, which has allowed a racist to continue to spread his bile and expect to keep his Council seat until the next election. This – just like the senseless reorganisation of the National Health Service, which Cameron and co promised wouldn’t happen – can’t be allowed to continue. I hope people don’t mind me being overtly political here, but I’ve never hidden my views from my friends, and I consider this to be my home. My innermost thoughts can be appropriately summarised by this popular track at the moment:
I’m also working on a number of projects at the moment, which have a crucial few weeks ahead of them. Many Fulham fans will know me as a evangelist for our own Supporters’ Trust and we’re very close to securing a long-term future for the club at Craven Cottage. I’ve also been asked to do some work with the national organisation, Supporters’ Direct, and intend to spend as much time as I possibly can in placing their agenda in the in-tray of the ever-improving Ed Miliband. But juggling these commitments has a taken a serious toll on my mental health, culminating in me upsetting the most important in my life last night. I can’t in all conscious continue to do that.
I’ve taken the decision, therefore, to scale back my duties for HammyEnd. For a while, I’ve been describing myself as the editor of the website, but that’s genuinely what I’ll be. It is my intention to encourage some of our exceptional young writing talent, like Lork O’Connor, Chris Gilbertson, Nick West and Lydia Campbell, to realise their full potential via HammyEnd.com as experienced journalists and good friends did with me about a decade ago. I’ll still contribute the odd article here and there, such as some of the tactics pieces I really enjoy writing, and the match reports, but will commission articles from various sources to keep the high-quality content appearing here.
It’s not the end for HammyEnd, but rather the start of a new chapter – and we’ll share as many details with you, our readers, as we can as soon as possible.
Thanks for your messages of support and the warm wishes. I do read everything that’s sent to me – even the extremely angry and abusive ones.