Friday, 12 October 2012

Such a Little Thing Makes Such a Big Difference

This is me - not Duncan. Duncan Jenkins is a character - everything he said or did on Twitter was in character, and it's probably fairly important to make the distinction between me and Dunc.

Duncan has been around since about 2009, and in November 2011 he took to Twitter for the first time, in what was surely another doomed bid to find the fame he so desperately craved.

Incredibly, and laughably, Slam Dunc did find some sort of fame. Almost 40,000 followers, including a healthy number of football journalists, eminent Twitter football people, and even the likes of Dara O'Briain. His favourite follower, however, was - and still is - the delightful Kelly Cates. Hi Kelly! *cheery wave*

If you're reading this you will almost certainly know what happened to Dunc during 2012 - the two transfer windows, a few 'scoops', the change of manager at Liverpool FC, live webchats, columns for etc. It was absolutely fucking mental.

United fans

Before I go any further and reveal the madness that ensued in late August, I ought to make it clear that I'm a lifelong Liverpool supporter. Duncan...well, he's Oldham til he dies. I guess it became pretty obvious that I'm a Liverpool supporter - plenty of people on Twitter realised and I got it in the neck from numerous angry Manchester United fans who for whatever reason seemed to feel let down by it.

I'll no doubt be subjected to loads more abuse from United fans now I've admitted it - but I want to blow smoke up your arses before I go on. 

When Duncan was stuck on fewer than a thousand followers, back in November, he received tremendous support from a core of United fans, particularly a group who work at MUTV and at the club's website. They know who they are. I want to thank them for their support, their promotion of Duncan, and I hope they don't hold it against me. 

The likes of @xbirchy, Steve Bibby, Laura Kane, Nick Coppack and others - most of them Man United employees - were fantastic with Duncan. They seemed to love him and Dunc certainly loved them. Another United fan - Matt Savage (@MattSavage7) - has known for ages that I was behind Duncan...since I drunkenly let it slip hours after we beat Everton in the FA Cup semi-final. Matt deserves credit for keeping it to himself for all this time. Cheers mate, I appreciate it. 

The Sahin Saga

In August, Duncan put his neck on the block and claimed Sahin was a certainty to sign for Liverpool - he would give up his dream of making it as a journo and quit Twitter if Sahin didn't sign for LFC. 

On August 19th, when it appeared Sahin was certain to sign for Arsenal, Duncan deactivated his Twitter account.

In the ensuing hours after Duncan 'left' Twitter, a number of hoax profiles sprung up. Some three hours after Duncan left, I reactivated his account simply to announce that any supposed Duncan Jenkins accounts were fake.

Minutes after Duncan's comeback tweet, I (me, not Duncan) received this DM on my personal Twitter account.

I was stunned. How did he know it was me? And why was he so bothered? 

I tried to reply but I couldn't, as Chang wasn't following me. Clearly he had followed me to enable him to send the DM, and immediately unfollowed, denying me the chance to reply.

So I emailed him at his official LFC email address.

duncan jenkins
Aug 19
to jen.chang

I couldn't reply to your DM as you obviously instantly unfollowed, denying me the chance to reply.

As such I hope this reaches you.

Is there any chance I could have your ear over this? Either via email or in person? To a certain extent it 
has been a misunderstanding on your side and I want to lay every card on the table. Duncan is dead - 
don't worry about that - I just want to explain. I am a Liverpool supporter of over 30 years, I mean no ill 
will and certainly wouldn't relish any bad blood. 

Look forward to hearing from you and I hope we can put this to bed amicably.

Jen Chang
Aug 19
to me
Sure, we can meet in person. When are you next in town?

Jen Chang 
Director of Corporate Relations and Communications 
t: 0151 xxx xxxx m: 07xxx xxx xx1
, Liverpool, L3 9AG
 Please consider the environment before printing this email

Please visit the official Liverpool FC website at for the latest news, views, match coverage and goals.

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duncan jenkins
Aug 19
to Jen
Thanks for the reply.

That's great, I would prefer that.

Sadly I'm not due over that way any time soon. Is there no way you can make it over my way? 

I'm only 40 minutes or so by road. 

If not I'll have to see what I can do about getting over to Liverpool this week.

Jen Chang
Aug 19
to me
How about we meet on Wednesday Aug 22 around 1:30? How are you in terms of getting to 
Deansgate in Manchester, or does it need to be somewhere in ********?

duncan jenkins
Aug 19
to Jen
Time and place is fine - naturally ******* would be easier for me. Might I also suggest it may be 
better for you - lower key, won't get any hassle etc. And it's a nice place too haha. If you thought 
******* would be better I have a nice, quiet and hospitable place in mind in the ******** ***** area. 
It's also very straightforward to find/accessible from the motorway.

Otherwise, if you have somewhere specific in mind on Deansgate - offices or something - then that 
would be fine by me too.
Jen Chang
Aug 19
to me
To be honest, would prefer to meet in Deansgate in this case.

Let’s meet outside Evuna at 1:30 on Wednesday.

277-279 Deansgate,

What mobile number are you using nowadays? 0xxxx xxxxxx?

Jen Chang 
Director of Corporate Relations and Communications 
t: 0151 xxx xxxx m: 07xxx xxx xxx
, Liverpool, L3 9AG
 Please consider the environment before printing this email

duncan jenkins
Aug 19
to Jen
That is absolutely fine.

Yep still on that same number.

See you on Wednesday then.


So that was that. I expected a fairly amicable meeting. I was going to tell him the truth - I had no mole inside Liverpool FC. I figured he might feel a bit silly initially but would ultimately be relieved there was no-one inside the club feeding me stuff. 

(Edit - for clarity, I should explain how Chang had my number in the first place. It was an oversight on my part to have not explained this. 

Very soon after Chang got the job at LFC, he contacted a number of bloggers - The Anfield Wrap, Redmen TV, and Duncan Jenkins. He sent a DM to Duncan explaining that he wanted to give certain bloggers more access to LFC - a presence at press conferences, interviews and the like - and to that end could I give him my number or email address. Naively at the time I thought it would be a great development for the character, so I gave him my number. With the benefit of hindsight, it seems clear that Chang knew exactly what he was doing and, having obtained my number, passed it on to whoever it was he hired to find me.)

Wednesday 22nd August, 1pm:

I arrived in town for my meeting with Jen Chang a bit early, and was in the vicinity for 1pm. I had a cigarette down at Spinningfields before making my way to Evuna. I was crossing the road opposite at around 1:15pm when I saw Chang on the other side of the road. I crossed the road, gave him a shout, and we went into the restaurant.

He commented that I looked different in person to my Twitter profile pic. I noted I was wearing sunglasses in my profile pic, and also that I was currently a bit nervous. That was true, I was a bit nervous - it was a surreal situation for me to be in - but I presented it as a joke. He replied, without any humour at all, "Well you should be."

Chang wanted to know who Duncan's "mole" was. I told him the truth straight away, that there was no mole. He found it difficult to believe. This went on for a while and I explained how Duncan worked, that it was all a big ruse. I asked him why on earth were the club so upset/obsessed with me about Duncan, why all this nonsense.

He went on to tell me that Duncan had cost the club money, specifically on the Borini deal. He told me LFC had been involved with difficult negotiations with Roma over the transfer of Borini. He claims Roma asked for absolute discretion from LFC, that if news of the proposed deal got out Roma's fans would be unhappy about the sale of a young Italian international. Talks were then concluded for the day, he said.

Later that very day, Chang claimed, Duncan Jenkins tweeted about Borini to LFC being a genuine possibility. Chang claimed Roma were furious about it, and that they then upped the transfer fee by around £0.3m (£300,000). Chang gave me an analogy - he said it was like promising to take your wife out for meal, only to have an argument before the meal, and by the time you'd made up with your wife you have to agree to take her to a more expensive restaurant.

For what it's worth - like most of Duncan's tweets - the Borini tweet was a punt, based on a tweet by Neil Jones at the Echo saying he knew Rodgers liked Borini, as Rodgers had told him so in an interview. Any coincidences in terms of timing were exactly that, a coincidence. 

Chang claimed every time Duncan Jenkins tweeted about a transfer involving LFC, the club would receive, and I quote, "50-60 calls from agents and journalists", and he also claimed he knew for a fact that some journalists had written transfer stories based solely on what Jenkins had tweeted. I asked him if Ian Ayre was aware of Jenkins. He claimed Ian Ayre was well aware of Jenkins and that he hated him for making his life and transfer negotiations more difficult.

I was pretty certain everything he'd said up to this point was complete horseshit, designed to intimidate me.

I then asked him how they caught me. I'd been convinced someone had grassed me up to the club, and I thought I knew who was responsible. To my absolute shock Chang told me he had hired people to find me. He told me what they knew about me, about my family, about my Dad's business (he named the business) and about the work I did. I was absolutely stunned and it seemed clear to me that this much was in fact true - given the level of knowledge he had about me and my family.

He then claimed the cost of pursuing me had come out of his budget, and that that money could and would have otherwise been spent on charitable projects, such as projects involving disabled kids in Toxteth (for what it's worth he actually used the word 'handicapped'). I immediately suspected this was more bullshit, a blatant attempt to emotionally guilt trip me.

He said he suspected someone inside the club of being a "mole", and that he'd run checks on him and expected to find links (emails, texts etc) to me. He said they'd not yet found any. I assured him that they could run the most thorough checks imaginable and they would never find a single link to me - because there weren't any. I urged him to run more checks, to be as thorough as he possibly could, and repeatedly guaranteed to him - indeed I swore on my young son's life - that he would find no links to me because I/Duncan Jenkins did not have a mole inside Liverpool Football Club.

Chang told me when he got the dossier on me (a dossier FFS) from the people he'd hired to find me, he was surprised to find it was me. He said he remembered me from Twitter. I'd had one or two exchanges with him before he got the job at Liverpool - just normal football talk. He said he remembered everybody he spoke to, and that he thought I was a genuine, passionate Red and also a decent bloke. He then said this was the only reason he'd given me the opportunity to defend myself, to have this meeting. He says had that not been the case he would've gone ahead with his planned action.  He claimed he couldn't understand why an apparently passionate Red would "wilfully damage the club".

He told me he'd asked a broadsheet journalist (who will remain unnamed) "some weeks ago" to contact me to tell me to back off and to stop tweeting. Only a week before the meeting did that journalist contact me, and even then he only told me that Chang knew my name. He didn't say anything about stopping tweeting. Having not got that message, Duncan had naturally continued to tweet, and in fact had been crowing on Twitter that the club were after him but would never find him.

Chang said this infuriated him - he was under the impression I had received the message from the journalist (why didn't Chang contact me himself?) and yet Jenkins flagrantly carried on tweeting, lording it on Twitter. He said he felt I was deliberately winding him up.

He said his planned action was still in place and there was one way in which I could avert this action - if I tweeted (as Duncan Jenkins) by Thursday night at the latest to confess that there was never a mole inside LFC and the whole thing had been a blag. If not, there would be no amicable resolution and his action would commence.

I asked him what on earth he'd planned to do. 

He said I would be banned from Anfield for life. I told him the season ticket - which I share - was not in my name. He said it didn't matter, and that both I and the lad who owns the season ticket would be reimbursed and then given lifetime bans from Anfield. He then started to talk about what a disaster this would be for me - how not only would I lose the season ticket and be banned for life, but I would upset a friend who would be banned for life through no fault of his own. I told him I'd known my friend since we were both 4 years old (my point being that our friendship would not be jeopardised by a ridiculous situation like this). He took it the wrong way and re-emphasised what a disaster it would be for me to lose a lifelong friend.

He then told me that most journalists despised Duncan Jenkins, and some had been actively trying to find out who was behind it so they could run smear stories on me in the press. 

I asked why would any journo hate him, I asked was it because it was perceived that Duncan was making fools out of them - beating them to several exclusives, "outscooping" and out-performing them. He said that was exactly it.

He told me that if I didn't tweet as requested by Thursday night, and/or that further checks with their suspected mole revealed links to me, that he would hand over all of my info (from the dossier compiled by the people hired to find me) to the embittered journalists and ask them to do their worst, to run smear stories on me in the tabloid press. He said "they will make your life hell, and will turn all Liverpool supporters against you. The papers will say you cost the club you claim to love serious money, that you wilfully damaged the club". 

"You know how crazy football fans are", he said, "You'll have dog shit coming through your letterbox, you'll have to take your Facebook page down, you might even have to move house". 

He repeated the stuff about dog shit coming through my letterbox several times, reiterating that football fans, especially Liverpool FC fans, are crazy and would make my life a living hell.

He then said the papers would also "ruin your Dad's online business".

Looking back on all this, it's a wonder I didn't deck him. I'm not a violent man by any stretch of the imagination, but bringing my family into it, and making threats like that, was a new low. It was difficult to take all this in - the conversation was fast-moving and pretty much everything coming out of his mouth was simply amazing. I had no time to digest everything he was saying and I just sat there in a daze.

During the meeting I played along, and I agreed to do the tweet as requested.

We left Evuna at approximately 14:55. We left on what superficially seemed like good terms - I was promising to do the tweet and Chang said "I'll see you at Anfield for a game this season".

I immediately called my wife and it was only then, as I recounted on the phone what had just happened, what I'd been threatened with, that the gravity of his threats really hit home.

Thursday 23rd August:

I did not tweet as requested. He can stick his pseudo-gangster deadline shit up his arse.

Friday 24th August:

At around 9am on Friday morning, after I'd dropped my son off at nursery, a 'private number' attempted to call me. I never answer private numbers, and in fact thought it was someone else in relation to an entirely separate matter. I didn't think anything of it.

News was breaking that morning that Nuri Sahin was in fact going to sign for Liverpool, meaning Duncan would not have to go through with his promise to quit Twitter if Sahin didn't sign for Liverpool. At about 11:30am Jenkins tweeted in reference to Sahin moving to Liverpool.

A matter of minutes later, Chang emailed me. Here is the exchange:

Jen Chang
Aug 24
to me

I saw your latest tweet. Disappointing.

Are you reneging?
duncan jenkins
Aug 24
to Jen

I assured, indeed guaranteed you I did not and do not have a 'mole' inside the club. I do not have 
any kind of 'mole', anywhere. You have since had time to prove this via the checks you were planning 
on running.

In light of our meeting in Manchester, the thought of being banned from Anfield for life, losing a lifelong 
friend (whose name is on the season ticket), and more distressingly my family and my family's livelihood 
being ruined by outing 'Duncan' to the press, I've had a particularly stressful couple of days. 

However I was under the impression, since you claimed to believe me, that all that would now be off
the table?

You know I don't want to go down that route as I would be out of my depth.

If this isn't the way forward then I am happy to discuss further.
Jen Chang
Aug 24
to me
What time can you talk on the phone today?

duncan jenkins
Aug 24
to Jen
No idea when I can take a call as the kids are noisily running amok and I'm in charge. 

Stressed enough as it is what with everything that went on the other day.
Jen Chang Jen.Chang@xxxxx.xx
Aug 24
to me
I’ve tried calling you already several times. I’ll try again, if not, I’ll call you tonight when 
the kids are asleep.

Jen Chang 
Director of Corporate Relations and Communications 
t: 0151 xxx xxxx m: 07xxx xxx xx1
, Liverpool, L3 9AG
Jen Chang
Aug 24
to me

You had stated you’d tweet what was agreed as an amenable solution.

If it isn’t done by end of day today I’m going to assume that you have no real 
interest in an amicable resolution.

As I already said, I would strongly prefer an amicable resolution.


That final email - indicating that things would get messy if I didn't comply with his bullshit - was sent to me at 6:01pm.

The phone calls from Chang continued to pour in. It was relentless. Unfortunately I don't know how to do screen grabs from my Nokia Lumia phone but suffice to say I still have the 20 odd unanswered calls on my phone. It was tantamount to harassment. In fact I dare say it probably was harassment. 

It was all rather stressful so that Friday night I went down the pub. The phone calls continued until around midnight. 

Friday 31st August

Transfer deadline day. 

I hadn't heard from Chang since the unanswered calls the previous Friday. In the meantime I had assembled a fairly potent backing - some heavyweight support - and as such I was feeling much better about it all. I could hardly have hand-picked better people to have on my side, but unfortunately Chang clearly caught wind of this.

At about 7pm, I received a call from a third party on Chang's behalf - someone I had until that point counted on. The caller told me he'd spoken to Chang, that all threats were now withdrawn, and would I agree to sweep it under the carpet and forget about it.


That is pretty much it. Why have I taken over a month to pipe up? Well, I've been exploring a few avenues but unfortunately none of them led anywhere. 

When I came out of the meeting with Chang my head was all over the place. I was affronted about being threatened, and having my parents' business brought into it, their livelihoods threatened. I knew the threats were unrealistic and pretty ludicrous, but nevertheless I'd been threatened and intimidated by a board member at the football club I loved.

Liverpool FC have had enough bad PR in the last 12 months to last a lifetime - so did I really want to go public with this? The thought of taking them on was not appealing, and fairly terrifying if I'm honest. Little old me had absolutely no chance against the behemoth that is Liverpool FC with their limitless resources. And why would I want to fight *my* club? 

Ultimately I realised it wasn't the club I was fighting. The club is the fans, the goals, the songs. Not some hired Comms Director. During the meeting Chang told me no-one at the club knew he was having this meeting. He came out with a phenomenal amount of bullshit during the meeting, but I suspected this bit to be true. I don't think this was a Liverpool FC thing - I believe it was Chang flying solo. For some reason he had become unbelievably paranoid about Duncan Jenkins and his behaviour was borderline demented.

Everything I've written is 100% true. There is not a single shred of embellishment in this account. The only way I could prove it would be if I'd recorded the conversation using my phone. Prior to the meeting I'd been advised by some friends to record the entire conversation. Obviously I wish I had now, but at the time I found the idea ridiculous - I was naively expecting an amicable meeting and I didn't want to get into shady business like recording conversations. 

I don't have anything to gain from this. There are rumours on Twitter, forums etc so I just wanted the truth to come out.

Thanks to everyone who helped make Duncan's little adventure such fun. It was a blast.