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Web Cartoonist, 'Ormondroyd'

Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy - British Council
 This article was generously provided to ClubFootball by the British Council, which operates in China as the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy.



"Football writes its own humour because the characters involved are just so funny." We all take football far too seriously. That is the belief of Fulham supporter 'Ormondroyd', whose hilarious 'virtual match reports' on the web have attained cult status amongst English football fans.

Aptly titled 'the official online home of soccer silliness,' his efforts have been called 'the funniest football website in the world'. Not bad for someone who used to get punished at school for doodling during lessons.
Ormondroyd - real name Jonathan Hall, a 25 year old computer systems manager in Reading - was originally inspired by a quirky website following weekly events at a small non-league club called Wealdstone. Using a similar mix of stick-like players, simple graphics and short, irreverent captions, Hall soon applied his talents to Fulham. Every goal and match is described in a series of cartoons, with additional wry comments thrown in.


'Football writes its own humour,' says Hall, 'because the characters involved are just so funny. Such a pathetic shower of people making idiots of themselves all week, it really is quite easy to find subjects.'

If that sounds critical, Hall is actually a passionate and loyal fan. 'Fulham's like that. You see a lot of people coming to a game with a friend and then becoming a regular. Fulham fans are such a friendly crowd.'
Those same fans also gave Hall his nickname. During an impromptu kickabout on the way to an away game he managed to head the ball onto a roof. Being well over six feet tall, and blond, he was soon renamed 'Ormondroyd', after former striker Ian Ormondroyd (whose height but lack of skill in the air made him an obvious target during an erratic but popular career in Britain with such clubs as Bradford, Aston Villa, Derby and Scunthorpe).
Many people ask how the reports are produced, especially as Hall makes no notes or sketches during the games. 'I'm quite notorious for getting the wrong players,' he happily admits. But his fans forgive him, especially as Fulham - who only a few years ago were struggling in the Third Division - have just won promotion to the Premier League under French coach Jean Tigana. On the other hand success presents its own problems. Inept performances, says Hall, are far easier to report on than routine 2-0 victories.
Since winning over the Fulham crowd, Ormondroyd's virtual reports have been picked up by the Guardian newspaper's own football website, Football Unlimited. His cartoons are frequently e-mailed around offices all over Britain. Some even came back to Hall's workmates in Reading, who had no idea that 'Ormondroyd' was in their midst!


Fame, however, has not turned Hall's head. To honour his debt to the Wealdstone website he helped its creator, Jack, to buy shares in his club. 'I work so that I can afford to go to football at the weekend, and there are thousands like me. But when you take a step back and look at the amount of money and emotion we're all investing in this silly sport, and you see the characters involved, football really is like a cartoon.'


Simon Inglis, June 2001

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