Date: 12th April 2010 at 8:02pm
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Arsenal Mania turns ten today, reaching a decade of service to Arsenal fans worldwide. When the domain was first registered on 12 April 2000, we didn’t have the slightest idea that it would grow to become the site it is today, reporting all things Arsenal-related to over a quarter of a million visitors monthly.

In 2000, we were still trying to figure out what the big deal was with this Internet malarky, happy with our 28.8kbps modems, and amazed that we could use Altavista and Lycos (remember them?)to search for all sort of information. And unlike today, where Arsenal blogs and forums are a dime a dozen, only a couple existed back then, with ArseWeb being the de facto Arsenal news website on the web. In fact, it was the inspiration for what is now the club’s official website. On the pitch, Manchester United had just completed their Treble, on the back of us losing the league by a single point, even though we had posted the meanest defence in Premiership history, conceding just 17 goals that season.

Early days, and winning our third Double


As you can see from the screenshot above of Mania in 2000, it was cool for websites to have a black background, and Jonathan Nieuwland made sure we had league tables, score updates and the latest news. Mania underwent two more colour changes over the next two years, turning white and navy blue respectively, but more importantly, that was also the season which we claimed our third Double, our second under manager Arsène Wenger. It was also the FA Cup final where Freddie Ljungberg literally showed his colours [by dyeing part of his hair red], and Ray Parlour scored that peach of a goal in the final against Chelsea.

Arsenal had evolved into a team that played very rapier-like football, cutting and thrusting through opposition defences with continental speed and technique, strengthened by British steel in midfield and in defence. We didn’t score as many goals as Manchester United, who finished third, but we had conceded 10 goals less, and the points tally was enough to ensure that the Premiership trophy returned to London. There was also the small matter of us winning the title at Old Trafford, and finishing the season unbeaten away, an achievement that would be bettered very soon.

Free video highlights in the forum of AVV Mania

Arsenal videos

Arsenal Mania Forum became one of the first Arsenal forums on the Internet, attracting just over 200 users from the UK, US, Canada and South East Asia. It was also when we introduced AVV Mania, and posted match highlights for free in a bid to attract more members.

Duncan Heffer would record the matches to his PC and religiously convert them to video files and upload them to the site. The take-up was big, but nowhere near as huge as it would have been – imagine what would happen if we started posting high-definition video highlights to the site today for free.

The video updates became so frequent that at the end of the season we had compiled our own end of season review, posting it to members of the site, all packaged nicely with the CD cover you see above. Lest we forget, the 2002/03 season included highlights where we had won 3-1 away against AS Roma, and also thrashed PSV Eindhoven 4-0 and Borussia Dortmund 2-0, playing football that was the stuff of fantasy, facilitated by the Three Musketeers – Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Robért Píres. It was also the season where we won the FA Cup, beating Southampton 1-0 in the first FA Cup final to be held outside Wembley, and it was also the first time we heard Bobby speak English on live TV.


Lest we forget, the team made history with the Invincibles season, going a record 49 games unbeaten, and winning the league along the way. It was something that hadn’t been achieved in over a 100 years (then by Preston North End). It was another marvelous achievement, especially as we had also won the league at White Hart Lane, completing a set as champions who have won their titles at Anfield, Old Trafford and White Hart Lane.

Growth, and the need for ads

Mania experienced a burst in growth on its forums when the official site shut down its own bulletin board service. Their users flooded Mania, and we had to quickly setup a temporary forum for them to continue their discussions. Some eventually left us to join other Arsenal fan sites, but most stayed to become a part of the Arsenal Mania forum family, a family that now has close to 40,000 members.


The site also went through several redesigns by myself, with Google News, NewsNow and GoonerNews now syndicating our news stories, exposing our content to even more Arsenal fans around the world. The writing team grew, as the demand for our popular opinion pieces – called Mania Articles – increased, and some of the original writers are still with us today.

Our traffic grew at such a rate that we could no longer afford the monthly server costs, and the all too common “Bandwidth limit exceeded” message appeared on the site one too many times. I made the decision to put ads on the site, and was approached by Aura Sports (now Sky Digital Media, part of BSkyB) to be one of two Arsenal sites on their sports portfolio, the other being the official site. It was the ideal solution to our financial worries, and it also allowed us to invest in our first dedicated server – no more shared hosting!

Bye bye Highbury

In 2006, we also bid farewell to our old home, Highbury, whilst saying hello to the Emirates Stadium. But it wasn’t just Highbury which we said goodbye to – club legends such as Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Vieira, Robért Píres and Thierry Henry also made their farewells. The first match at the Emirates Stadium was a testimonial for Dennis Bergkamp, a fitting farewell to a player who helped usher in the fantasy football being played under Arsène Wenger.


Still here, and growing

Fast forward to today, and Arsenal Mania is still here, and on 24 February, became a part of Canadian company Play LA, giving us access to resources that were previously unavailable. We are in the process of procuring our third dedicated server, and have also grown in other channels.

Our Twitter account now has close to 10,000 followers, and followers are regularly kept updated on Arsenal news, the Mania Articles and most importantly, matchday updates.

Arsenal Mania (or “AM” as some of us lovingly call it), has also been featured in print media such as FourFourTwo magazine, the Guardian, Evening Standard, the Times, the London Paper and the Daily Mail, and Mania’s writers have also contributed season previews and reviews to popular sports channels such as ESPN Soccernet.

We were also one of the first to volunteer our services to REDaction, to lay out scarves in preparation for Man United’s visit in the Champions League.

Recently, I also had the privilege of meeting Tom Fox and Richard Clarke from the club for lunch, to discuss how we could better cooperate in getting important messages out to the Arsenal fan community.

I met CEO Ivan Gazidis very briefly, saying hello, and was introduced to the team who worked on the official site, from its journalists, the Junior Gunners team, to the Official Magazine and the talented team who work on Arsenal TV Online.

And after 10 years, we’re still here, still serving you and your needs for most things Arsenal. Thank you for the last 10 years, and we hope to see you at the end of the next 10.

Come on you Reds!


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