Fanzines – The Precursor To The Football Blogs

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At the end of the 70’s and the beginning of the 80’s the English football fans were for once rejoiced with something other than the out of control hooliganism. It all started in 1973 with the general fanzine “Foul” but soon the phenomenon spread like wildfire and many clubs got one or even more fanzines. The fact that it was now possible to release leaflets quickly and cheaply using photocopiers made it attractive for fans with literary ambitions to write down their opinions and sell them for a small contribution at home matches. Fanzines differed enormously: they ranged from bad copies with amateurish texts and drawings to semi-professional magazines with photos, interviews and strong articles.

Often the texts had a humorous approach and the writers could afford writing things that the official club magazine could not. The relations between the boards of the local football clubs and the publishers of fanzines were therefore often not very good. The influence of fanzines grew and reached its peak in the 1990s. However, with the rise of the internet and related blogs and forums, the influence and sales of the fanzines diminished rapidly: some went along with the new media and reinvented themselves as websites and online magazines, some stubbornly continued on but most of these gems unfortunately disappeared.

Below are 9 (short) examples of English fanzines.

Bradford City FC: The City Gent.

The longest running fanzine. It was published for the first time in 1984 and with the meanwhile disappeared Terrace Talk (York City) and Wanderers Worldwide (Bolton) the founder of fanzine culture in Great Britain. Is still active.

Fulham: TOOFIF

The name TOOFIF or There’s Only One F in Fulham was chosen as fans of the opposing teams often referred to the South West London team as “Fucking Fulham”.

Sheffield Wednesday: War Of The Monster Trucks

The name of this fanzine was thought up on April 21, 1991. Sheffield Wednesday played the final of the League Cup against Manchester United. Wednesday unexpectedly won 1-0 but that didn’t stop the local TV station Yorkshire Television from switching to the show “War of the monster trucks” immediately after the final whistle instead of showing the scenes of joy from Wembley.

Scarborough Athletic FC: Abandon Chip!

Scarborough Athletic is the successor of Scarborough FC, which disappeared in 2007. The title refers to the main sponsor of that club: potato giant McCain.

Stoke City FC: The Oatcake

Named after a local delicacy: the North Staffordshire Oatcake. The Oatcake still exists, now includes a fan forum and blog and is a household name in Stoke. The magazine still has a wide following and influence which Johan Boskamp’s experienced during his tenure as trainer of the Potters. The disastrous transfer policy of the Dutchman was regularly and widely criticised and indirectly contributed to his dismissal.

West Bromwich Albion: Grorty Dick

Another fanzine named after a dessert. Grorty Dick was founded after the writers of the original fanzine Fingerpost got into an argument with the supporters’ club that had a controlling function at the magazine. Grorty Dick became known for his well-written articles and their dedication to charity. Number 151 in 2005 was the last Grorty Dick. Officially they stopped appearing because they could no longer compete with blogs and forums but unofficially the continuous criticism of trainer Gary Megson caused tensions in the editorial staff and with the supporters.

Torquay United: Bambers Right Foot

The title is a reference to Dave Bamber. The Blackpool striker missed a crucial penalty in the 1991 play-off final and Torquay was promoted.

Bury FC: Where Were You At The Shay?

A reference to the 6 fans who followed Bury on a cold winter’s day to an away game in The Shay Stadium of Halifax.

Manchester City FC: Bert Trautmann’s Helmet & City Till I Cry

In the years before Thai politicians and Arab princes it was often no fun to be a city fan. It is therefore no coincidence that when they were looking for a name for a fanzine they chose City ’till I cry.

The other influential fanzine was named after the local hero Bert Trautmann. Trautmann was a former German prisoner of war who had stayed in England and would be City’s goalkeeper for no less than 15 years. He became a legend after the FA cup victory in 1956: after an unfortunate collision he continued to play on despite fierce pain. Three days after the victory a hospital investigation revealed that he had broken his neck in the collision.