December 1 2009
We are not sure where the time went, but the Holmesdale Online is 10 years old!
While Crystal Palace FC have had mixed fortunes in this period, the supporters' website has gone from strength to strength, regularly nominated for fan site of the year awards.
It all began when school pals Gordon Law and Peter Guntrip created a fan website in the summer of 1999 shortly after finishing degrees in journalism and computer studies respectively.
Like most supporters, Gordon enjoyed reading Palace fanzines such as Eagle Eye, One More Point and Eastern Eagles and wanted to create a version of these on the internet, which had only just started to become popular.
Peter was the man to build the website with Gordon providing content and the duo worked closely together to launch a basic site with news, travel guides, an interactive player profile sticker album, Ask Side-o, fixtures, prediction league, lookalikes and a message board.
The site was hosted on Peter's university web space to begin with but was soon transfered to a paid 'Virtual Hosting' solution to cope with the amount of hits it was getting.
While fans flocked to the website, Palace were in administration after Mark Goldberg's reign as chairman left Palace in financial turmoil, though fortunately the campaign ended with Simon Jordan coming in to stop the Eagles from going bust.
Manager Steve Coppell was working miracles with his threadbare squad and Palace ended a traumatic 1999/00 season in the safety of 15th in the First Division.
The Holmesdale Online celebrated its first birthday by scooping the Guardian's Unofficial Site of the Season award and Gordon and Peter won a weekend trip to Italy to watch Juventus play Lazio and met Attilio Lombardo!
The Guardian said: "The Holmesdale Online was unmatched in the way it combined both news and information on their chosen team with the irreverent humour and fun of a fanzine. There was also more than one impressive technical innovation to be admired."
The site moved onto Rivals.net but quit a season later because Gordon and Peter were frustrated with the lack of freedom on the corporate network (see right).
A new-look website was rolled out for the start of 2001/02. Peter realised that the demand for the site was going to be so great that it was going to require its own server. In order to pay for the on going server costs adverts were added to the site.
The HOL changed to its current design in the summer of 2007 after months of planning the new look and transfered the old content onto a new wider site with the navigation moved to the top of the page. By this time the server costs were increasing so much that Gordon and Peter created the Elite membership scheme in order to help pay it.
So what do we do? Gordon adds news stories and features to the site, along with the previews and match reports, aiming to keep the home page fresh each day.
Peter looks after the site's infrastructure and builds sections which Gordon fills with words and pictures making sure it all works.
Typically, Gordon will think of an idea for a new section and will discuss with Peter how it will look and be constructed from a programming view. At the moment, Gordon is devising a fantasy football game plus creating a new player profiles section which Peter will soon be building.
But the pair do not have the time to do everything and are indebted to the team of moderators past and present who keep things running smoothly on the message boards, along with other site contributors. You know who you are. It would be difficult to manage the website without this support.
Retired journalist Jamesey writes an excellent column "Jamesey's Veteran View" which has enhanced the site's editorial coverage and he has a huge following from fans all over the world.
Personal commitments permitting (both have entered their 30s!), Gordon and Peter will continue to expand the site with lots of new ideas in the pipeline.
They always welcome feedback from supporters, so contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you think there are any areas for improvement.
Thanks to everyone who has supported the website over the last decade and here's to the next 10 years!
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