When I started Wrong Side of the Pond close to seven years ago, I didn’t really have a plan in mind.
I had just moved to Louisville for a non-soccer related job, and I was looking for a way to pass the time in a new city where I didn’t know anybody. Keeping a blog to spill the many, many thoughts I had about the beautiful game seemed as good a hobby as any. And to be honest, I knew and was cool with most people not really caring to read those thoughts. But for the few who did care to — a handful of friends I’ve met in my decades of playing, my mom — it at least kept me from having to write the same email six or seven times.
It didn’t take long for me to discover how enjoyable it was to write about the thing I was most passionate about. And doing so from an American perspective, something that was in short supply on the footballing internet of the day, seemed a proper mission. The blog even allowed me to justify poking around in Photoshop again. And perhaps more importantly, it offered me a much needed creative outlet that my new job did not during a lonely and tough time in my life.
Eventually though, I returned home to Cincinnati. To be fair, my heart had never really left. But despite again being surrounded by friends and family, I kept up with the blog.
By that point, the hits had increased a minuscule amount since the site’s earliest days. But it took a series of impeccably well-timed opportunities for this little blog to morph into something more than just a hobby.
Specifically, it was my first ever legitimate scoop and an idea to start a crowd-sourced soccer bar directory that blew the lid off things. Suddenly, almost without warning, an increasing number of people were stumbling across my corner of the internet.
To that point, this site very much lacked a plan. However, for the last four years or so, it became clear that if I developed one… maybe this little blog could turn into something more.
Admittedly, my goals for that plan haven’t always been the same throughout. They’ve evolved, much like the site itself. Initial targets ranged from simple desires like
“drawing 20 unique visitors a day” to “being taken seriously”. But as initial targets were overturned, they eventually gave way to legitimate career ambitions
However, whatever end goal I was working towards, the reason for chasing it never changed from the earliest days on the site: telling the story of soccer from the American perspective. Cliché as it may sound, soccer courses through my veins. With all do respect to my lovely wife and daughter, soccer is my first true love. And sharing the many amazing tales that this sport has to offer has been my small way of giving back to and helping to grow a game that has given me so much over the last — gulp — nearly 30 years I’ve been playing it.
Amazingly, I’ve been incredibly lucky to see the effort I’ve poured into Wrong Side of the Pond give a lot back to me, too. Free gear here and there, an MLS Cup, two MLS All-Star Games, inaugural games for teams in four American leagues, standing on stadium pitches across the country, press box access, getting to meet some of my childhood heroes… I’m well aware that not everyone who has poured themselves into a blog has been so fortunate.
Too, I’m not afraid to admit that at times this thing has felt like a burden. Seven years of semi-consistent posting can wear thin on you from time to time, especially when you have to squeeze it into a life that already contained a full-time job, a social life, and eventually a family. But that I’ve kept at it, despite all of those hurdles, shows to me that it meant something to me more than just ambition or a hobby. I’ve found that when talking about one’s passion, it can be hard to set down the microphone. So even through bouts of writers block, stress and busy periods at work, I felt an obligation to keep pumping out stories about the beautiful game.
Well, all that’s about to change.