by Rupert Insider
“HumptyDumpty, what are you immediate reactions to your great fall?”
In Blog that! – Part 2, I suggested that the keystone to koptalk was cracked when senior officials at LFC informed contributors to this blog that Duncan Oldham has never had access to LFC. I suggested that in Part 3 we examine the damage to Koptalk to see if it is merely superficial or structural.
Oldham admitted last week that whether or not he has information from inside LFC is crucial to his business. He said, “no info = no point!”
He made that confession to justify why he published a lie about Bellamy last Saturday. In other words, if Koptalk is to have a point – to continue to be his “nice little earner” – he must be able to continue with the pretext that he has inside information, about LFC players – preferably negative information – because that’s the kind that has proven most profitable for him in the past.
The weekend lie about Bellamy reached No. 1 in News Now’s Top Stories and earned him enough money to pay for his pies, peas and gravy for a month. And when it was proven to be a lie, there was no apology to Bellamy, LFC, News Now or his readers, instead he sneered that if the story had been true “the feds would have objected to it”.
So does that little display of arrogance mean that he can continue as before – that the damage to Koptalk has only been superficial?
The answer is NO! The damage is not superficial – it’s structural. Oldham is no longer in control of Koptalk’s destiny.
A number of tall cranes have crawled into place around his site. Hands are already playing with the levers that could send the wrecking balls swinging and reduce Koptalk’s shaky structure to rubble.
The widening crack
Once the crack in the keystone appeared it opened quickly.
- Long-standing contributors to his site demanded reform laying down the conditions for their continued participation: other posters – pillars of Koptalk – removed the live-links to football matches and to post-match video downloads they had provided as a free-service to their friends there: others stopped supplying information: many cancelled their automatic renewal of subscriptions on their PayPal account: some demanded refunds because he had sold them memberships under false pretences, or failed to deliver the services he promised or because he had arbitrarily denied them access after they had paid their subscriptions: others demanded a refund of their deposits on the book he never wrote: many used his site to denounce his lies, his values, his attitudes and conduct.
- All of his volunteer moderators left.
- LFC ordered him to remove claims to be “official” and to remove references to his having inside access to Anfield, Melwood and the Academy and to stop stealing the content of the Official Site and unfairly competing with the club by jerrymandering the net price of LFC official regalia he sold through his site:
- Google News decided he was not a genuine source of news about LFC and permanently cut him from their feeds.
- The Charity Commissioner noted his activites and the police have been informed by a contributor to this blog about his appeals for money for someone he claims is his cousin. The enquiry is sparked by his unusual requirement that cheques be made out to him or his mother, and his failure to provide an accounting for the money received, and his closing down the appeal site when legitimate and reasonable questions were asked about it.
- Wikepedia – the online dictionary – decided that none of his claims for Koptalk were supported by evidence and permanently eliminated the entries he had personally engineered into their LFC page.
- Owners and managers of media outlets ordered him to stop breaching their copyright. Others are monitoring him at this very moment as they review the evidence of how he has stolen their material in the past and sold it to unsuspecting LFC supporters.
- The managers of News Now, the greatest single source of his visitors for several years, permanently pulled the plug on feeds to his podcasts and temporarily suspended feeds to his site because of infractions of his agreement with them and they are currently analysing and monitoring his activites as they consider requests from many quarters to ban him permanently or let him continue under much stricter scrutiny.
- Fusion BB – called him to account for using their software without licence to set up Koptalk clones – supporter sites for Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur. The lights are now out on those sites until he pays for a software licence or finds another source of software to pirate.
- Photographers turned down his offer of money and refused to work with him.
- Perhaps 85% of the most active members of his Gold Club and Insider left – many of them to start up EST 1892.
- A large proportion of the the active posters on his free forums left, perhaps 75% – some to turn to the more established sites and some to start yet another new site – Six Crazy Minutes.
- The producers of tv and radio and newsprint programs which specialise in exposing scams are considering requests to give him a public going-over.
Koptalk’s New Wall-flowers
As his members broke-out to freedom from his overbearing site, he dismissed their past contributions claiming that he would replace them easily. He boasted that this was his best summer ever, with record numbers of new members signing-up and sending in their money. The extra cash, he said, would enable him to splash out on new vehicles, new properties, expensive new audio-visuals toys and more trips to Malta and New York and there would be new generous competitons for overseas members to bring them to Liverpool on an all-expenses paid trips.
As though to prove his claim of new members, a long list of mysterious “lurkers” appeared on the “now online” stats on his site. But they were wall-flowers, too shy to post. He was so short of posters he started many apple-pie-and-motherhood threads under his own name, often employing his stock of other user-names to have banal conversations with himself about who his favourite LFC player was and whether red was a better colour than blue.
Meanwhile, independent sources were suggesting that new signings had dropped by about 80% compared with the same period a year ago. And the Alexa stats suggested that traffic to his site had plummeted, sometimes falling below that of a new sites started two months earlier.
Tumbleweed rolled across his free forums, the wind howled eeriely in the emptiness. A harmonica wailed and an empty Woodpecker bottle clinked as it rolled in the gutter. Even the super-loyalist, Dj_Sydney, left town.
Attack is the best form of defence – or not?
When LFC said he had never had access and never would, Oldham blustered. He called us a liar and then he called the LFC officials liars. He hinted he had something nasty on them and that Rick Parry had asked for a meeting to get it from him.
When that failed he fell back on his well-worn diversionary routine of “they are attacking my kids”. He thinks it makes people uncomfortable. But he’s done it one time too many. This time people felt uncomfortable about what it revealed about his attitude to kids and angry at his repeated insults to their intelligence.
But he could not give up the tactic of hiding behind youngsters – after all that’s what they’re there for isn’t it – to be used!
He pushed his 17 year old stepbrother to the front, appointing him an unpaid editor-without-control – chief cook and bottlewasher. And he treated the youngster like a fool, using a mobile to tell him when to jump – literally.
And in the Punch and Judy show that is Koptalk, he shoved the Steve sock puppet above the parapet, put on a funny voice, and posted under Steve’s user name as though he were Steve talking to Dunk – not Dunk talking to himself.
On his podcast he made the youngster the straight man in his now infamous joke about his own paedophilia.
But all this off-colour geniality was forced. In reality he was seething.
He lashed out with the threat that he would bring forward the publication of his book “Anfield Exposed” to tell the world how he had been wronged by the “suits” at LFC and members of rival web sites. But there was calculation even in this outburst. He had to continue to pretend that he is writing a book otherwise he would have to return all the deposits he took for advanced sales, some from boys, as long as two years ago.
His calculated attack did not stop there. He told us several times of his “underworld friends” and their offer to see off his critics, and his visit to a “mad hitter” in Liverpool who, for 500 quid, would see to it that the bloggers would “push up daisies”. (Its not nice to know that one’s life is worth the equivalent of 15 Koptalk memberships, especially as that price would cover at least two of us).
And to prove he meant business he used the information some of his members had provided to him in confidence to track down their place of employment and he had his “family” telephone them there to threaten them that Koptalk would be calling back to speak to their employer in a few days about the “abusive language” of their posts on Koptalk. These were members who had announced that they were quitting, or asked for refunds, or asked critical questions and now posted on other sites.
And Oldham laughed when he saw the concern this tactic was causing and vowed to do some more of it.
In a frenzy of activity he tried to demonstrate that he did still have inside access to information from LFC, after all, by trying to climb on a wheelie-bin outside Melwood to take long-distance shots of players training, before he gave up and told Steve to do it. Even at Melwood he hid behind kids – the autograph-hunters – who managed to catch the attention of manager and players as their cars emerged into the street after a hard day’s training, and shoved his microphone in their face to try unsuccessfuly to entrap them into mouthing the word “Koptalk”.
And then, almost as though he has been banned from hanging around Melwood after that stunt, he sent his young gofer back again to take more through-the fence videos, and to demonstrate Koptalk’s relevance by jumping up and down behind the Sky TV reporter before driving to John Lennon airport to speculate, over a full English breakfast, which plane out there on the tarmac might be the one that was carrying the players to Holland.
And all this catatonic activity succeeded in doing was demonstrate more eloquently even than the LFC’s disassociation from him, how much of an outsider Oldham really is.
After more than seven years of claiming to be the owner of the largest LFC supporter’s site, and the confidant of directors, executives, players and investors, we saw before our very own eyes on his own video that he ranked behind the child autograph hunters in the street outside Melwood. The players obviously had never heard of Koptalk. After all these years he still does not know what charter company the club uses for foreign trips.
Where’s my fig leaf?
And at some point in his frenzy Oldham heard a voice – the clear voice of the honest little boy in the crowd saying: “The Emperor has no clothes”. And suddenly he felt naked.
He pulled out his Fagin box to count the baubles he had pick-pocketed – which is what he always does when he needs to comfort himself – but there was nothing there. Receipts were at an all time low. He was naked without a fig leaf.
That’s when he decided to close down Koptalk’s free forums.
The End of Koptalk as we have known it.
This was the first time that the free forums were closed since Koptalk was founded by Colin Seaman more than seven years ago. Koptalk had been conceived as a free forum. It was to be a meeting place for LFC supporters, a virtual Kop in the new internet world. That was the very reason for its being. That was its essence.
And even when Oldham took control and started on the road to turning Koptalk into his own, personal profit-centre – he was always careful to stress that his begging and his money-making larks were necessary to enable him to keep the free forums going. Koptalk was the voice of the fans he said. It was a labour of love, his hobby. He was the servant of his people. They were his “family”.
On 5th September 2006, his family woke to find that Daddy had done a bunk. The free forums were closed down. There was no hint of it, no pre-announcement, no consultation. It was a done deal. Oldham was acting out his belief that “Dunk knows best”. It was his site, he could do whatever he liked with it, and if people didn’t agree they could “fuck off”.
And what was his excuse for this unprecedented act?
That he was lying – that all his claims about record numbers of new members and huge new revenues in the summer were a lie. Now he said he could not afford to maintain the free forums.
From now on, he said, if anyone wants access to Koptalk they will have to pay 30 pounds a year to him personally. To avoid contractual obligations to them, and to confuse the tax inspectors, those mandatory 30 pound fees would be classifed as “donations”. Your 30 pounds will be a gift – no questions asked!
The closing of the free forums represents a major structural change in Koptalk. He will never fully recover from it, whatever he does now. It was caused directly by the cracking of koptalk’s keystone – the seven-year long lie that Oldham had access to LFC and its directors, officials, players and employees.
It seems that when the implications of what was happening finally began to sink in, Humpty Dumpty became dizzy, lost his balance and fell. And now he is trying to put himself back together again.
But is it worth it Humpty? Do you really want to climb back on that shaky wall given the structural damage that has been done to it?
Its true that bridges and arches have continued to survive after their keystones cracked or became dislodged. But that is possible only because the strain on them was drastically reduced or removed altogether and engineering props were brought in to support the points of highest stress. And with all those adjustments – the structure was never he same. Users had to live with the risk that at any moment, when they least expect it, the entire structure might collapse.
It looks as though Oldham has decided he has no option. He has to continue using the damaged structure no matter how dangerous it is for him. He doesn’t want to clean windows or work at MacDonalds so he will just keep going until something else turns up.
The closing of the free forums was the main way he has reduced the strains, but there have been others. He is now in fugitive mode, dodging about to avoid confrontation with those who want to have a word and who want to see his business and personal records.
If Oldham wishes to proceed on Koptalk’s shaky structure it must be slowly with extreme caution. He will never again be able to claim that he has access to LFC, that he has contacts with its directors, executives or players, never able again to tell lies about LFC players without himself being subjected to immediate exposure and ridicule, and he won’t be able to use his Big Lie technique about children without bringing even more scrutiny of his use of children, never again be able to threaten blackmail with impunity, or have money for charities sent to his personal bank account or his mother’s, and he will never again be allowed to steal copyright in order to sell it to LFC supporters, or squeeze other LFC sites from news feeds and works of reference, and squat on their domain names and redirect traffic intended for them to his own site, or threaten his critics melodramatically with violence and murder – in fact Koptalk will never again be a source of easy money for him or his hangers-on.
He’s being relatively quiet lately. But there are indications that he thinks this is not a permanent change – that this is “chill out” time – a time for hiding out behind Steve, his Ma and his kids – a tactical retreat while the heat is on.
He is waiting for all the Queen’s men to put Humpty Dumpty together again.
But the Queen’s men may have different ideas – the tax inspectors, the customs inspectors, the benefits-claims investigators, the police and trading standards officers. They plod a bit and they may have taken their time to move their cranes into strategic positions around the Koptalk site. But their wrecking balls are now lined up.
The question is when do the wrecking balls start flying? Or to put it another way – is the structural damage to Koptalk sufficient to keep him under control or should Oldham be made to swing?
That will be the subject of the discussion in Blog that! – Part 4