Had a message today from my old mate Sergio, the last of the original Balmain Rovers with whom I formed the team in 1998, to say he has finally retired from All Age football and will be playing Over 35s for West Ryde next season.
For those who like to know these things, Fiorenza S. racked up 12 seasons, 250 games and 51 goals. Brilliant.
As you might know, I moved to Corrimal a few years ago and have since started playing Over 35s myself, with Russell Vale, so now none of the original Balmain Rovers remain in All Age.
There are still teams playing more-or-less under the Balmain Rovers banner, but they are less identified with the Rovers ‘brand’, or even each other – although all Balmain Rovers teams have operated as part of the endlessly patient and supportive Balmain & District FC.
In the halcyon days of the early 00s, we had three All Age teams playing as Balmain Rovers in the Canterbury comp, another playing in the Sydney Amateur Football League, and yet another spin-off team (Thirsty Thirds) also in SAFL. Some of those teams still play, but they don’t really identify as Balmain Rovers any more.
I think we’ll keep the Rovers website going, though, just as an archive – a slice of life. It still gets a ton of traffic – mostly Europeans looking for a team while on a working visa, as well as Africans and South Americans looking for a break.
Last time I checked it ranked sixth for the search term “sydney soccer” on Google. And there’s been no meaningful activity on the site for a year!
It also happens to be what led to me becoming a web designer. When I first built the site, it was as a fun mechanism for the team members. I had built a few websites before, but working on the Balmain Rovers site taught me some principles which gave me a head start in the industry and which still hold true today.
Six things I learned from the Balmain Rovers website:
- If you satisfy the content needs of a known target market, people outside of that target market will be attracted.
- The best way to optimise a site for search engines is to know your market, write well, speak plainly and be honest.
- Any inbound links will lift your Google ranking; meaningful contextual inbound text links are Google gold.
- Don’t assume your site visitors arrive on the front page.
- The longer you stay active on one domain, the more your search rankings will improve.
- Get user feedback – any way you can – and act on it.