Five years ago, in anticipation of the move from his home in Berkshire to Bournemouth University, Sam Rourke realised there was a gap in the market for lower league football content. As a result, he created a football website dedicated to the 72 clubs spanning the Championship, League One and League Two. Fast forward to today and Football League World is the largest unofficial football league website in the world. Sam took a moment to tell our readers about the origins of the website and his aspirations for the future.
Having gone to Bournemouth to study journalism, his love for both writing and football inspired him to start a blog that was intended to fill that gap for lower league clubs. As a fanatic Reading fan, Sam recognised that the majority of websites were saturated with Premier League content. The lower leagues lacked a dedicated football website which provided daily updates on the players and clubs. ‘My original intention was never to make money but to provide a service to those fans who had been looking for an easy way to gain information on their teams’.
The @SkyBetChamp returns tonight as Reading host Derby!
How will things look come May, though?
Here at FLW we've had a stab at the final table and it's good news for Stoke and Forest fans ????
But not so much for Reading, Bolton and Rotherham… ???? pic.twitter.com/JcQPbMrRnA
— FootballLeagueWorld (@FLeagueWorld) August 3, 2018
When Sam received an email from Snack Media’s Partner Network Manager, James Murphy, to discuss the addition of tags onto his site, Sam leapt at the opportunity. Despite the site sitting on NewsNow, it wasn’t making any money and the prospect of earning some extra cash while living as student was too good of an opportunity to turn down. The site has since been bought by Snack Media with Sam naturally continuing his role as chief editor.
Sam’s love of writing has continued to grow and when he finds time away from editing, he can write between two and ten articles a day. As chief editor, it is his responsibility to regularly ensure that traffic levels are retained on a weekly basis, as well as looking for new strategies that he can evolve into regular and exciting new content.
— Sam Rourke (@samrourke_) August 20, 2018
With George Dagless serving as his trusted assistant editor, the team is made up of six other writers. More recently, the site has had a weekly influx of prospective writers hoping to join the team, a testament to the quality and stature of the website and more recruits are expected in October. One unique feature of the website has to be the exclusive interviews carried out by members of the team. Over the years, Sam has accumulated contacts that have enabled him to get interviews with specific players and managers.
July was a record breaking month for site page views, as they surpassed the five million mark. Sam explains, ‘I feel very proud. Football League World is the largest unofficial football league website in the world and I always look back to that one night in 2013 when it all began. Five million views is mad when you consider there are 72 small clubs and we don’t have the luxury of large club status’.
Looking forward, the focus is on expansion and growth. ‘The continued aim is to keep increasing the writing team and improving on League One and League Two coverage’. Although they aim to have equal coverage of all three leagues, the Championship does take up the bulk of the content. Sam is keen to see an increase on all the sites social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, as well as a new avenue with Youtube.
Matty Phillips banged in two goals as West Brom battered QPR 7-1 at the Hawthorns on Saturday… ⚽️⚽️
— FootballLeagueWorld (@FLeagueWorld) August 21, 2018
More recently, there has been an exciting new step for the site with prospective work alongside Quest TV. The television channel approached Sam and Football League World with the hope of creating some new projects such as a highlights show and obtaining even more interviews with players and clubs. The introduction of Quest TV is a strong indicator of the depth and growth of the site and goes to show that it is respected in the industry.
The success of Football League World is down to the tireless effort of Sam Rourke and his talented team. From a small blog in Berkshire back in 2013, to five million page views in July 2018, it is no wonder that Football League World is being recognised by larger publications and outlets for its current and innovative content.