About Me

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Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom
I'm a director of Maidenhead United Football Club. For ten seasons one of my roles at the club was to produce the match programme. The aim of this blog was to write football related articles for publication in the match programme. In particular I like to write about the representation of football in popular culture, specifically music, film/TV and literature. I also write about matches I attend which generally feature Maidenhead United.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

The Birth of the Football Fanzine

When the football historians come to assess the latter decades of the twentieth century, the role of the fanzine will be judged to have played a significant part in the evolution of the administration and culture of the sport.
Their heyday was a brief one, lasting from the mid eighties to the end of the century, but their impact in inspiring a generation of football supporters to take a more active role and influence the game they love will surely be felt for many a year to come.This alternative press has led to a consideration of the supporters' viewpoint becoming compulsory with many clubs now giving a seat in the boardroom to a supporters' representative, and some clubs even being wholly run by supporters.
This locates the fanzine in a political setting, and the use of a do it yourself press to agitate for reform is a fine British one, dating back to the early nineteenth century when publications such as the Black Dwarf scurrilously challenged the established order. This tradition re-emerged in that great liberal decade, the 1960s, when the likes of Private Eye, IT and Oz finally began to demolish Victorian values with daring humour.
At this time football was run by autocrats such as Alan Hardaker, at a national level and club level, with players and spectators expected to shut up and be grateful. Jimmy Hill and the players' trade union the PFA took the first step in the players gaining their freedom, by successfully campaigning for the overturning of the maximum wage, but there was no equivalent for the supporters who found themselves expected to pay ever increasing admission in shoddy stadia. With the established press dominated at all levels by tabloid hackery, a gap existed to articulate an alternative supporters' eye view. In the mid 70s a publication called Foul tried to fill this gap but proved to be a lone voice perhaps because of its origins at Cambridge University, a world away from football's working class support base.
Instead it was left to the Punk revolution in the word of music to spark a publishing boom. This movement was spread by a plethora of home made fanzines such as Sniffin' Glue, and the ease with which these bedroom operations spurned a vibrant and entertaining alternative press led by the beginning of the 80s to the conclusion that many young men decided to produce a football version.
Usually club based, the likes of City Gent (Bradford City) and Talk of the Town End (Enfield) had spurned hundreds of imitators by the end of the decade.With the lot of the football supporter becoming an ever more arduous one thanks to grounds which were downright dangerous, not helped by the over zealous attentions of the police, many were inspired to put pen to paper, and with all the publications laced with a healthy dose of humour there was a hungry readership desperate for material more entertaining than the somnolent match programme.
Non club issues also came out such as Off the Ball, The Absolute Game (Scotland), Hit The Bar (North West - a personal favourite) and When Saturday Comes. The latter, originally produced by Juma who now print this programme, assumed a kind of leadership by devoting pages of each issue to a directory of all available fanzines.The movement was spurred on by evidently hitting a nerve as livid officials countrywide tried to stamp it out, the ultimate treatment being meted out to Wealdstone's The Elmslie Ender when it was banned from every ground in the non league pyramid for daring to complain about a last minute penalty!
Naturally Maidenhead United was not immune to this cultural explosion and over the course of this season this programme will look at each issue of the twenty that were produced, starting with Issue One of The Shagging Magpies.

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