Friday is Fernando Torres’s birthday but forget about Chelsea’s Twitter feed celebrating that goal against Barcelona (cue Gary Neville’s “oooooooooooooooohhhhh!” co-commentary) and meet Sheldon Edwards, proprietor of HD Cutz, a “professional barber” and star of this week’s episode of Out of the Blue.
The YouTube show may be the current pick of the 20 Premier League clubs’ offering to fans in their quest to fill the void left by the suspension of football because of coronavirus. Here Twitter is king as the portal to sundry offerings. And Edwards is the ideal engaging character to spend a few minutes with as hair consultant to a plethora of Chelsea players – including Ethan Ampadu, N’Golo Kanté and Ross Barkley, who “keeps it fresh, with two or three [trims] a week” – and who at his Wandsworth premises recites a nice story about Callum Hudson-Odoi and the winger’s father.
Manchester United’s push to keep supporters engaged incorporates a vote on which triumphant FA Cup final will be streamed in full (on Saturday, via the app): 1990, 1994, 1999, or 2016. Manchester City are offering free access to their in-house TV channel for all “Cityzens (members). Aston Villa are asking for nominations for their “greatest ever 5-aside”, while Crystal Palace ask fans to support the Norwood and Brixton foodbank, and also show a three-minute clip of a “great away day” at rivals Charlton, which appears to be a 1-0 win from September 2012. Everton are another club socially conscious during this particularly difficult time. Their Twitter feed is dominated by news of Blue Family, an outreach programme launched with a £50,000 donation that aims to “maintain contact with fans and provide support to some of the most vulnerable”.
The vote-for-something/nostalgia-trip is a staple of content and has many variants, some more inventive than others. From Saturday Burnley will be going “Back To The Fixture” to “relive classic matches from over the years, right here on Twitter”. Leicester’s take is to offer, in conjunction with De Montfort University, “a look back at the life of Emma Clarke”, born in 1875 and who was a “pioneer” of the women’s game. Arsenal have a more belt-and-braces option: a poll of four games of which the winner is to be “watched together next week!”.
Brighton are running “Albion Score galleries”, with images of “our second season at the Amex”, while Liverpool have a “Behind the badge” feature on Neil Edwards, their under-18 goalkeeping coach. Newcastle choose to retweet NewcastleUnitedStatZone’s advert for a look at 1993-94 when Kevin Keegan’s side finished third in the Premier League. Bournemouth have a novel reminder of the need to wash hands for 20 seconds, via a tweet that has “a disallowed goal, a VAR decision and a celebration to help you time it!”
Southampton are in rewind mode with this tweet: “#OnThisDay in 2016, it was a̶ c̶o̶m̶f̶o̶r̶t̶a̶b̶l̶e̶ ̶L̶i̶v̶e̶r̶p̶o̶o̶l̶ ̶w̶i̶n̶ a stunning #SaintsFC comeback against #LFC”. And Tottenham’s entry in these fill-the-void times is one that “we’ve been saving for a rainy day”: a trailer of Dele Alli, Hugo Lloris and Son Heung-min playing foot-golf inside their stadium – “subscribe now and watch when it drops tomorrow [Saturday]”. It proves – surprisingly – comical.
In Sheffield United’s “kit-off” the Blades are at the semi-final stage of a favourite livery vote: “94/95 Home versus 89/91 Away”. Watford wander down memory lane with a retweet of the EFL showing of Nick Wright’s overhead opener against Bolton in 1999, with the caption: “Imagine scoring this in a Play-Off Final!”
West Ham were due at Spurs on Friday night, so fans can relive last year’s 1-0 win there – and there is also a few seconds of a “home workout with the Fabianskis”: goalkeeper Lukasz and child. Wolves are in old-school mode, too, filing regular questionnaires from players answering Shoot magazine-type posers such as: “Least favourite sport?”; “Pre-match music choice”; and “Best player he’s played with”. Rúben Neves is up next.
Finally Norwich tweet an image of a leaflet that can be printed and filled out with name, address and offers of help before being posted “through letterboxes of people who need support”.
It is touching and sobering – reflecting where the world currently is.