Happy Birthday to us! Yet it's time to say a big thank you to you.
Five years down the line it's hard to believe that this website has grown as much as it has, but I mean it when I say that it's only down to the efforts of a wide array of writers and you people taking the time to read this that we're here now. The Tilehurst End started as a bit of a side project, somewhere to write about the club in long-form, keep writing skills sharp(ish) and provide a place for other Reading fans to be able to write longer pieces. The name behind the website was based around the style of Elm Park where you'd get the rowdy folk on the South Bank, largely quiet folks in the seated Norfolk Road stand, and those somewhere in between stood on the Tilehurst End. With that in mind I wanted to create a site where people wouldn't have to worrying about trolls on message boards, while escaping the overly sanitised output from more official sources. I thought it would probably fizzle out when I found my spare time cut down but people rallied behind us and here we are today.
In terms of content, we've been there from Wembley, to promotion to the Premier League, relegation, near-misses, 'hooliganism', FA Cup dramas and more. We've been here when Brian was sacked, Adkins replaced, Clarke biffed and McDermott's return. As a website we've tried to bring you the best tactical analysis, provided a place for open debate, and 'honoured' those who've made an impression on us.
Over those five years we've had more than 50 writers produce content for the website. Some have provided a single match report or opinion piece but there's a core group that have been giving up hundreds of their own hours to push the website forward and turn it into what we have today. Quite simply, there's no way we could do what we do without their help. The generosity and dedication of that group, which particularly includes our editorial team of Marc, Will, Hoops, Bucks, Olly & Jonny is something that never ceases to humble me and it's thanks to them that we've been able to up our output from maybe 5-10 articles a week five years ago, to closer to 20+ now.
I'd also like to thank the men who've helped our Tilehurst End Podcast reach over the 90 episode mark. I joke that he's the godfather of Reading podcasts but Westy has given up days of his life to help record not just our own show, but the Reading Football Fancast & The Royals Post shows that proceeded ours. Likewise, Jonny has been a big help as has Dave 'Handbags' Harris who's become a regular 'hulking' fixture on the show. Thanks also to Rob Langham, Hoops, Wimb Snr and all the other people who've guested on the podcast, not to mention our interviewees such as Shaka Hislop, Stuart Lovell, Jason Roberts, Joel Hufford, Simon Sheppard and more. Even more importantly, thanks to those of you who've sent us in questions to the mailbag as without you we'd have some very brief shows!
Aside from myself, nobody who writes or records for this website gets paid for their efforts and even the amount I'm left with after paying things like podcast hosting, makes the £4.31 an hour I earned at Woolworths as a 17-year-old look massive and like everyone who writes for us, this isn't a full-time gig. That's no dig at all because when I started doing this, The Tilehurst End actually cost me money to run and SB Nation have since been brilliant partners in providing support and again helping push us forward to the next level. Likewise, your generous donations to our crowd funding campaigns have helped fund improvements to the podcast and provide new subscriptions and tools, so again thank you.
All that being said, TTE has never been and never will be about making money. That's why we do our best to stay away from pure clickbait driven rubbish that you get from certain other web portals out there. Of course we have to have some advertising, as in the end SB Nation needs to pay the bills but as long as I'm in charge we'll do our best to make you want to come here for the quality of output, rather than juicy misleading headlines for stories that have little to no substance.
Where The Tilehurst End goes from here is largely down to you. What you read, download and listen to helps shape what we do and the more of you who give us feedback in comments sections, on Twitter, via firstname.lastname@example.org or who tap us on the shoulder at games the better we'll be at providing a website by the fans, for the fans. We've occasionally got it wrong in the past and I'm sure they'll be times we miss the mark in the future but I'd like to think we get it right when it matters the most.
So thank you from the bottom of my unprofessional joke of a heart, you're all awesome and here's to the next five years and beyond.