I was sat in a niche café in central Glasgow with the music humming at a low level, just audible enough to create a relaxed atmosphere. I was waiting for the interviewee to walk in not knowing what to expect. I then received a DM on Twitter, “I’m about to walk in. Specs, grey jacket, windswept hair…” and he matched the description to a tee.
Adam, the man behind Oldfirmfacts1, where he tweets nonsensical things from James Forrest’s bed time to a weekly Scottish football patter roundup, was here to talk to me about all things Scottish football and how he managed to find himself success on Twitter.
He started Oldfirmfacts around six years ago and it was originally just a platform he used to make himself and his friends laugh. Eventually his tweets started gaining some traction and he started gaining a following on Twitter. In order to remain impartial to the thousands of followers he has garnered, Adam remains anonymous on the internet.
When Adam spoke he was enthusiastic and said everything with either a smile or a chuckle,
“It was a friend of mine who suggested I get Twitter, but I never really saw the point in it. I never saw the appeal of it but my mate Stevie kept getting on at me so eventually I signed up. At first I didn’t think much of it. I started thinking of jokes that were football related, then I gave it ten seconds of thought on what the name could have been.”
He chuckled, “In retrospect I probably should have given it more thought; would’ve saved myself some grief. Anyway, I started sticking some jokes up and my pals started sharing them. Given the nature of Twitter their pals also start sharing it and suddenly it grows with a much further reach than I’d ever anticipated it growing.”
He then explained the story as to why he decided on the name, and gave the reason why ‘Oldfirmfacts’ has a one at the end,
“Well, it’s mainly jokes about Rangers and Celtic; definitely not facts, but jokes in the style of genuine facts. I genuinely never thought people would have a problem with the term ‘oldfirm’, its catchy and tells you what it’s about. I was never going to call it ‘Celtic and sevco’ or ‘the rangers’ facts.”
“When I was setting it up I realised that someone had already taken the name oldfirmfacts; I had a look and it was this dormant account. It had tweeted like five things about politics from two years before. So, since I’d thought of the name, I decided I’ll just go for oldfirmfacts1.That guy didn’t say anything about it as he clearly didn’t use twitter.
He continued, “But the first time I was on offtheball I was moaning about it and this guy starts taking the huff going ‘that’s my name!’ and I’m like ‘well you’ve not used that account for five years.’ I thought he might’ve had a sense of humour about it but he didn’t really and he ended up changing his profile picture to match mine. In fairness, that was quite funny and I’d have probably done the same if I was him.
“I didn’t give the name any thought and I’ve taken years of abuse for it. But now I would never change the name of the account, the sort of person who’d give me abuse for that term [old firm] is the exact sort of person I’m not going to tailor my tweets toward. It makes me more determined if anything to keep using the name.”
Sticking to that we went on to talk about the impact his tweets have on his followers, or those that don’t follow but want to disagree with every tweet,
“I know how much my tweets affect people who don’t like me; cau se they tell me! It was never intended to have a massive impact, as I said it was for my own amusement and the amusement of a couple of friends, and it kind of spiralled out of control. I know it’s had to have had some kind of impact purely because I’ve now finally been able to give up my day job and do this sort of thing full time, just in the last few weeks.
“In the real world it’s hard to measure, cause I know on Twitter if you’re a Scottish football fan and you’ve had twitter for more than a week you will have an opinion on whether or not you like my account.”
I then asked if he had considered trying to merchandise the brand of oldfirmfacts, he shut down the idea whilst laughing,
“Realistically, how many people are going to buy a mug that says ‘oldfirmfacts’? Imagine making your dinner with oldfirmfacts on your apron?
“Then I’d get the money for it; how much did you make off the mugs this week? Seven pounds? In fact nah, that’d be for a month or a quarter or something like that. I think there’d be a point I’d be like ‘yeah this sounds great’ and everyone else would be thinking ‘this guy has turned into a complete wank’. For the tiny, tiny profit it would make me, compared to the massive loss to my reputation, it wouldn’t be worth it.”
Moving on from that we went on to discuss the success he had on Twitter so far; when was the first time Adam realised that he could make a success out of Oldfirmfacts?
“I remember the first time I had a tweet where I looked at my phone and thought ‘shit, this is going way, way, way beyond my expectations’. What was probably a blow to my ego was that it was something I hadn’t sat and deliberated over, it was just a daft pun which made me think ‘maybe I don’t need to give these so much thought in the future.
“I was sat watching Scotland-Germany three years ago and Scotland had a penalty and I wrote something like:
Manuel: I’m gonna save this
McArthur: Neuer naw
“If that is ultimately what I’ve got to thank for getting a full time job then there’s no pride in that whatsoever. But that was definitely the first time I saw my phone just spiral out of control.”
He added, “I just think; does it make me laugh? Does it make my friends laugh? I always respect the people who do things to make themselves and their friends laugh. People that dilute things to appeal to their audience, I have no interest in that.”
With that being the first real tweet to blow up on the internet what was his favourite piece thus far,
“I was really pleased with the first ‘what’s the point of Scottish football’; just the reaction I got was great. For me, just seeing the reception that was getting, to see those who were really buying into the style of it and the tone. For me, the whole Craig Levein quote where he says ‘regrets? No it’s a good laugh, isn’t it?’ is the way for me.
“Yeah we take the piss out of Scottish football but it is a celebratory thing, celebrating the daftness of it and stupidity of it, and that for me, that’s probably my favourite thing I’ve done with it.”
One of the best things that Oldfirmfacts does on Twitter are a chain of themed tweets such as ‘Scottish football as Peep Show’ or the ‘Scottish Football Weekly Patter Round Up’. My personal favourite is the patter round up, as now we can go on Twitter, find the thread, and go through the stupidity that has occurred this season thus far. Adam said,
“The Peep Show ones I love doing; likening Scottish football to the Peep Show, the Office or FRIENDS. FRIENDS got the best reaction but the Peep show tweets, that’s a good example of making me and my friends laugh; if other people like it then great.
“Although people who like Peep Show really like it, it doesn’t have the same audience as FRIENDS does. Even if you’re not a big fan of FRIENDS everyone knows those references. Peep Show, despite people who watch it like myself thinking it is the greatest show ever, doesn’t actually have a huge audience.
“So I do get people responding like ‘I don’t get this’ but I love doing those ones. They are quite time consuming so I wouldn’t sit down and think ‘I’m going to do that today’ just over time you accumulate ideas, just over 100s of draft emails of things. So at some point I might do Scottish football Partridge or Scottish football Wire, but it’s not something I can sit down and do; it takes time to compile over weeks and months.”
He then explained the process for the banter round up,
“For the Scottish Football Weekly Patter Round up; I thought of it one week and that’s a case of I’ve probably bitten off more than I can chew. I thought this’ll be fun and on the first week of last season I literally stuck up four pictures that happened that week and then as I was doing it I thought ‘shit, there’s actually way more than four things happening every week worth including in this’. So it then became a case that Twitter only allows you four pictures, but within those pictures you can put twenty pictures, so I could squeeze everything in.
“Painstakingly trying to make a picture of a Hamilton player getting kicked in the baws next to a screengrab of Neil Lennon in a press conference telling Craig Levein the gloves are off. Trying to make it all fit into these four screens whilst trying to have people understand what’s going on; but I always take a step back when I get frustrated and think ‘this is going to look amazing at the end of the season’. I can’t wait until I can look back at volume 1-38 and think ‘that’s my masterpiece right there’. This is what I have given back to the world of football, 38 weeks of utter nonsense.”
To then disrupt the flow of the interview and to catch him off guard, I hit Adam with some quickfire questions, which he answered incredibly well considering how stupid they were.
First of all; Craig Levein or Neil Lennon?
“For PATTER, pure patter only, I’d have to go for Levein.”
If all the trees in the world and all the clouds in the world had a fight to the death, who would win?
“Every single cloud and every single tree?” He asked whilst laughing, “Well, trees would be more physically abrasive but clouds more aesthetically pleasing; so you’d maybe have a draw and maybe it would have an independent adjudicator, it could go to the SFA judicial panel afterwards. So if the SFA was debating whether clouds or trees had won it they would probably award a penalty to Rangers.”
Ideal Champions League final fixture?
“I would choose an English team and Barcelona just so I could make some sort of joke about tinpot English football as Barcelona won 4-0.”
And the last of the quickfire round; dream job?
“I always think that the job that looks the most fun is being in the Lonely Island or in Flight of the Concords. Just making a living, and a good living, out of arsing about and just being funny, writing songs and videos, that’d be a dreamjob. Or writing for the Onion or that.”
Returning to the regular interview we took a step back from Twitter and looked at how Adam was progressing in his professional career. He was a journalism student at university a while back but he had dropped out as he didn’t feel university life was for him. Now, due to the success he has seen on Twitter, which secured him columns in both Glasgow Live and the Daily Record, he has secured himself a full time job in the media.
He recapped gleefully, “My bosses were able to justify getting me in full time. I’ve been doing my two columns a week for Glasgow Live, and now also do a weekly column for the Daily Record. There’s a new project coming up I am a part of, which I can’t go into too much detail, but I am a part of it and that’s how they were able to justify getting me in full time, which is brilliant!”
At this point I wanted to know what his friends and family thought; imagine trying to explain that parodying Scottish football had earned you a full time job,
“Most of my friends are at the point where they just don’t give a shit anymore. I’ll put columns up on my Facebook that have done really well on twitter and my pals will just be like ‘it’s just Adam writing more football shite again.’ I think a lot of people will think that it’s a cool thing but a lot won’t know or understand it as so much of it is based on this kind of bizarre world on Twitter.
“Since doing the Glasgow live stuff I’ve done the occasional gig review or lifestyle thing and sometimes politics, just things that are nothing to do with football. Those kinds of things are more impressive to the people I know than the football stuff but everyone has been really supportive; now it’s nice to turn around and say ‘I’ve been doing something that’s a success.
“What’s really nice is the moments when people find out that’s what I do and they are like ‘aw I follow you’. There’s weird moments; one time I was on a course at work a couple years ago and a guy in the canteen told me a joke and he was like ‘oh you’ve heard it’… well yeah, I wrote it!”
I then asked if there was anybody he looked up to or took inspiration from for his style of writing,
“Marina Hyde. As far as people writing about football go she’s absolutely the one I aspire to. Her writing’s smart, hilarious and endlessly quotable.”
We then moved on to discuss life beyond football, at which point Adam revealed unexpected,
“I’m in a band but it’s not something that we take too seriously. If you’d said ten years ago I’d have been like ‘oh yeah we’re gonna be the next big thing’. There’s the usual story of the thousands of bands who don’t make it and we probably think it’s because x, y and z didn’t go out way, but we were probably just shit. Still, I absolutely love it.
“We used to gig quite a lot but now we’re five guys with responsibilities with wives or girlfriends and trying to get us all in a room to practice is hard enough. That’s one thing I would say; if I couldn’t have done writing I’d have happily been a musician. The feeling of being on stage is amazing. The short buzz of energy you get after a good tweet or column is great but just that sustained high you get whilst being on stage is amazing. I do miss that we don’t really do it much these days. It was a good release of tension.”
After learning about what made him tick and how he has went from a university drop out to now working full time in a job that he would have aspired to attain had he finished his degree, I asked Adam what advice he would give to aspiring journalists or writers,
“I feel slightly awkward about giving advice as I took a very, very strange route in but I’ve been lucky and found a very small niche with the stuff I tweet. In short the advice would be; get the job done on time, try and maintain a decent standard, stick up for what you believe in with your writing but don’t be afraid to take advice from people, really important to be personable when you’re working with people, and if people you respect are praising your work then don’t be afraid to share that. It’s not being arrogant it’s taking pride in your work.”
Meeting someone you look up to or admire can be difficult as they often turn out to be something that you weren’t expecting. Thankfully the man behind Oldfirmfacts was grounded, humble and had a genuine passion for Scottish football and all the hard work he has put in to get to where he is now.
If you want to understand what all the fuss is surrounding Adam’s work on Twitter follow him @Oldfirmfacts1 and read his favourite piece through this link. https://www.glasgowlive.co.uk/sport/sport-opinion/old-firm-facts-scottish-football-12709905