How a Touch Footy Twitter Newsbot Almost Changed History

Just like our respective amateur sporting careers, it was short-lived, misleadingly joyous and absurd. Ben Shine reports on TPA reaching a significant milestone – our 1000th follower on twitter.

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The Public Apology has a high regard for itself. If it were manifest in physical form, it would look something like Kanye West – with designs on being not just a blog (or hip hop artist) but an entire multimedia platform (or fashion mogul / artist / cultural icon), whatever that means.

Just like Kanye ambitiously wants to be bigger than Andy Warhol, this year the TPA executive board set an equally ambitious target – to expand its online and social media presence. The lofty target of 1,000 twitter followers was identified as a primary goal, and quickly became a focal point for the business.



Like a scene out of Full Metal Jacket, CEO Dave J. Edwards would drill subordinates in morning news conferences, barking at them to chant the mantra “we will get 1,000 followers” over and over. He would sign off all emails “approaching 1,000”, and affixed  post-it notes with the sole figure of “1k” to the desks of his hard-working scribes.

In short, the target permeated TPA’s entire organisational culture.

At times Edwards’ passionate drive for the landmark follower numbers came at the expense of other core TPA responsibilities, such as writing and publishing articles. Nonetheless, he pursued the target with the vigour of a pubescent Jarrod ‘Toadfish’ Rebecchi trying to lose his virginity.


As the follower count ticked upwards  past the 950 mark, due mainly to witty quips like the one above, excitement grew at TPA HQ at the looming milestone.

And then at 6.06pm on a Tuesday night in October, TPA notched its 1,000th twitter follower. In line with TPA’s absurdist philosophy, the 1,000th follower was none other than an obscure automated news feed on touch football.

The 1,000th follower was on-brand for TPA's absurdist ethos
The 1,000th follower was on-brand for TPA

Edwards and the team were buoyant. The champagne bottles were popped, the local cocaine dealers were texted, the goal once thought as unattainable had been reached. The party would soon begin.

But shortly after the ecstasy came the grief. The celebrations had proved a false dawn. No doubt displeased at TPA’s tweets about achieving 1,000 followers, a single user clicked “unfollow” and the count was reduced back to a depressing “999”.

And so we live with disappointment for another day. A dream almost realized, but not quite. Like that time I got out on a dodgy LBW decision on 49, my highest ever score in under 13s cricket, we will try to hide the pain by telling ourselves we will get another chance at glory – but knowing all too well we let a golden opportunity slip through our fingers.

By Ben Shine

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