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Recent Reads #5 & 6 – STAND: Against Modern Football Issue 1 & 2

I started this blog just before I turned 25 in October 11, last month I turned 26 marking another notch on my bat and the first anniversary of my blog. A whole year I’ve managed to keep this blog going, you wouldn’t think it though from the sheer lack of updates on it, however despite the lack of updating I still have managed to get over 4,000 hits on it, which isn’t bad considering. SO I suppose this means I best not let it all go to waste and actually get down to some writing and who knows, now that life is finally looking up for a change, I might actually be able to start updating more frequently with actually interesting things to write about, wouldn’t that be ace eh?

With that in mind what better way to mark my 1 year blogging anniversary than with a write up of one of my favourite things, a fantastic articulate paper fanzine. Make that TWO fanzines.

STAND: Against Modern Football is a new zine put together by some of the chaps behind such other well written publications such as Halcyon and PROPER and has contributions from some of the folk behind blogs that I have in my ‘blogroll’ (over there on the right hand side of your screen) who’s sites I can be regularly found mooching through such as THE HOVIAN & THE BIG TAKE OVER as well as a variety of like minded ‘Tweeters.’

The magazine does exactly what it says on the tin. It is a magazine dedicated to taking a stand against the world of Modern football by simply dissecting, discussing and pointing out everything that has made the so called ‘Beautiful game’ into a stale, dull and pricey state that it currently is. The best thing about this publication is that it’s written by a group of average blokes who all have one thing in common. Like me, they LOVE football, they have done all their lives, they’re the folk that have watched their clubs through thick and thin, paid thousands of pounds on season tickets, away trips both domestic and European, they’re the ones who live and breath football, who’s dads did the same and their dads and so on and so forth, but now they’ve had enough and their making their voices heard, and I’ll tell you one thing, them voices make for good reading.

So what is wrong with Modern Football exactly? Well, A LOT if I must be honest and if you haven’t cottoned on yet then you’re probably living under a rock, a fan of the egg chasing, one of the stupid sods featured on “Full Kit Wankers” or generally an encourager of one of the other thousands of problems with the modern game. What problems you say? Oh I thought you would never ask. Well there’s…Soccer A.M, ‘Unbelievable Tekkers’, Soccer Sunday, The England band, Stevenage and Palace ‘Ultras’, Goal celebration music, “Who are ya?”, Jim White and Sky Souce Claims, Sky Sports in general, Man Utd on Wall Street, Sheikhs, Oil barons, What will Mario do next?, Fancy dress costumes in the stands, half and half scarves, Forest Green Rovers falafel wraps, the Poznan, MK Dons, The Sports Direct/American Express/Durex Condom stadium, Did they or did they not shake hands?, John Terry, Joey Barton Nietzsche quotes, Talksport, Ejection and banning order for standing in the STANDS, £62 admission fee’s, administration/liquidation and parachute payments, second string teams in the FA Cup, Cardiff in red, ‘Stat-bantz’ …to name but a few.

I know some people may think that by me saying that encouraging and supporting any of the above list your part of the problem as somewhat patronising or condescending if you will, but sorry it’s true and you only have to read through this zine to realise I’m certainly far from alone with this opinion and I’m certainly not the only person in my current age bracket to think this way as well. I may well only be 26 years, and yes the majority of the years I’ve been watching football has been covered by Sky Sports and no I didn’t get to experience life on the terraces before the Premier League but that doesn’t mean to say I can’t get sick to death of watching the sport I’ve loved since I was old enough to walk become stagnant and stale for all of the above reasons mentioned. Despite my young age alot of like minded, similar aged lads have been brought up watching the football with ours Dad’s, Granddad’s (in my case my Grandma as well) and in some cases our great Granddad’s. They have indulged us with stories and tales of glory and woe supporting the football club that we have gone on to support, stories that involve such legendary players of the game such as Dixie Dean, Pele, Kenny Dalgleish, Eusabio, George Best, Maradona  etc etc. Call it ‘Golden-age syndrome’ call it what you will but this was when football was truly the ‘beautiful game.’  I mean, honestly, what stories will the modern day football fan tell their kids in the future “well son, this one time Mario Ballotelli was caught playing with his iPad on the bench it was totes funny, it was all over Twitter” FUCK THAT!!!

Anyway, on to the actual zines themselves. STAND #1 was released around the start of the new football season and SOLD OUT in it’s entirety within two weeks and it’s not hard to see why. I mean this is quite literally the ONLY zine out there giving a platform to the football fan who hates the current state of the game, so as you can imagine there is a lot of heart and soul put into all of the articles but needless to say a small aspect of comedy chucked in there, I mean after all this magazine is basically tearing into Modern Football, it may as well take the piss out of it as well, for fuck’s sake though DO NOT CALL IT BANTER!

Some of the articles in the excellently presented Issue 1 include a look at the current Chicken farmer regime at Blackburn Rovers, a look at “Positive terrace culture” in Sweeden, the rise from the ashes of AFC Wimbledon and an obligatory “Are you a modern football fan” Quiz. However for me the two articles that stood out as particularly excellent where that of the current state of Cardiff and their Malaysian Red makeover written by Alex Brokenshaw who I actually met a few years ago during my unfortunate tenure in the UK Hardcore punk scene and a piece written by a chap who I’ve followed on Twitter for a while ‘Macca’ a.k.a @The_paris_angel  a City fan talking about the pros and cons of City’s big takeover and the affect it’s had on the true ‘thick and thin’ fans image. As dubious as I was about the City article at first, as you can only imagine, it is actually an eye opener and genuinely a fantastic and funny read. If you missed out on Issue #1, what can I say? Gutted for you, however you can slightly redeem yourself with ISSUE 2.

Issue #2 was released a few weeks ago and again is another excellently presented publication. Throughout this issue there does seem to be a lingering theme with alot of the articles tackling one of the biggest issues faced in Modern Football and that is the cost of ticketing, which as some people may or may not be aware has risen, on average, by 716% since 1989, quite simply shocking. However, needless to say, the most important issue tackled in this Issue is that of the recent exposing of the Lies surrounding Hillsborough which is delivered in four very heartfelt articles written by four individuals who support Liverpool, Everton, Forrest and United alike.

Like I mentioned earlier Issue 1 is now SOLD OUT but as far as I’m aware there are still copies of Issue #2 left but pickings are slim from what I’m told and I guarantee that, like issue 1, this will sell out. You can pick up a copy directly from their ONLINE STORE for a measly £2  and you can keep up with the goings on of the publication via their TWITTER and FACEBOOK . Some issues can also be found at a few stockists like Weavers Door in Liverpool or Oi Polloi in Manchester to name a few. I seriously recommend you pick this up as soon as you can because this is unique magazine with a unique insight and is definitely going to get better with time if the current state of football continues down the road it’s going.

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Recent Reads #3 & 4 – The Green Soccer Journal & The ‘End’ Book

Despite being actually busy for a change in the last few weeks I’ve managed to find a bit of time to pick up, sit down and read through a few recent “zine” and book pickups so without further ado…

RR#3 – The Green Soccer Journal – Issue 3

I was first introduced to The Green Soccer Journal last year after they released Issue One. After skimming through a friends copy of the first issue I instantly took a liking to the magazine, unfortunately by the time I discovered it the first issue was long sold out so I knew I could not miss out on issue Two and I was glad I managed to grab it. For those who have never read TGSJ it is accurately described as a “Independent style journal, exploring the world of football.” Released quaterly, it is a brilliantly put together and well presented magazine blending the world of men’s fashion, mainly that seen worn by the average fashion conscious “chap on the terrace”, combined with fantastically clever and very articulate articles about the world of football. It covers everything from interviews with ex/current professionals of the game, supporters groups, professional pundits and even grass routes football.

One thing that makes the magazine just a tad bit extra special is that there is a particular running theme throughout each issue of the magazine. For example, in issue 2, despite the interview with Sky Sports, rather “tasty”, pundit Hayley McQueen, a superbly written “tug on heartstrings” article about Ronaldo (the Brazilian one) and an article on Bosnian “Ultras” the general running theme of the issue was that of French football covering interviews with the likes of Patrick Viera, a look at France’s new away strip and around French Football Federations Clairfontaine training facilities.

Issue Three was released recently and the theme for the newest issue is one that plays close to my heart, The Goalkeepers Issue. As a former goalkeeper myself I’ve always related to the poor sod that has to stand between the sticks for 90 minutes in the freezing cold weather and having to pick the ball out the net on a bad day (or that just might have been me). Needless to say it didn’t let me down. Several brilliant interviews with Everton’s first choice American keeper Tim Howard, American Samoa international keeper Nicky Salapu (aka the man who has conceded more goals in one professional game, 31 vs Australia, than any other), former Arsenal legend and Tv pundit Bob Wilson OBE, Italian goalkeeping legend Gianluigi Buffon, as well as a photo set recreating some of the greatest saves in Premier League history using solely the goalkeeper kit used on the day, to mention just a few. However, this issue was a little bit, how do I put it? X-rated? Yeh that would probably be the best way to put it. I was kind of taken back upon reading an article about former NY Cosmos keeper Shep Messing. A goalkeeper more famous for his partying life style and his once pornographic exploits in a woman’s erotic magazine in 1974 than his goalkeeping talents. Needless to say the pictures featured in said magazine, well they also feature in this. So as you can imagine I was kind of taken back sat in the pub reading this only to stumble across pictures of Shep’s bits and bobs just freely dangling out, however all was forgiven when a superb photoset featuring a female streaker graced the centrefold pages, kind of in the same fashion of a retro issue of Playboy.

So another fully enjoyable read from the lads at TGSJ, one that I would definitely reccomend. I know locally it can be picked up in Weavers Door in Liverpool but for those of you not local it can still be picked up from their website HERE. It may not be the cheapest of magazines (£8) however, at least in my eyes, it’s money well spent for a brilliant magazine. You can also follow the magazine via the usual medium of TWITTER

RR#4 – The End Book

I feel daft that I’m only just getting round to doing a write up on this. The truth is I only managed to get hold of a copy last week, I was hoping to pick this up back at Christmas just gone but as that was to no avail I’m just getting round to it now and my word it has been worth the wait. I don’t think I really need to discuss the in’s and out’s (no pun intended) of The End to anyone, as most people who are reading this are fully aware of how important it’s precense was in Liverpool during the 80’s. Personally, I only became aware of the world of The End about 3 years ago as, and I’ll be honest here, I wasn’t around to experience it at it’s peak and it’s been one of Liverpool’s best kept secrets for a while. I was only exposed to it via a kind chap who I used to speak to on a forum a few years back. At the time I was trying to get my hand on some old back copies of the Everton fanzine “When Skies are Grey” when the chap in question kindly scanned a few old copies of the Everton zine along with a few original copies of The End and sent them through to me via PDF format, instantly I was hooked and started researching.

Over the last few years there has been talk of the legendary Scouse mag making a return or the possibility of a repress of the old copies, however it was only last year that, finally, the lads behind the mag along with the folks over at Sabotage Times finally got together and made the talk a reality via this very smart, well presented book that contains all 20 issues of the brilliant mag that made it’s way around the terraces of most of the 80’s football grounds. The book certainly does not disappoint whatsoever, chocked full of Scouse humour, articles on the love of beer, trabs, music and football (the very stuff of life itself), the famous In’s & Out’s lists, humorous poetry and letters from some of the countries less savoury football supporters, interviews with some celeb types of the time like Billy Bragg, Alan Bleasdale, Billy Butler and the late John Peel as well countless cartoons depicting the Liverpool life under the gun of Thatcher and her gang of cronies.

It goes without saying that the brainchild of Peter Hooton (who went on to sing in Liverpool band The Farm), Phil Jones and Mick Potter (as well as the countless lads that contributed) is something of legend in the city of Liverpool. A magazine aimed originally for selling to the average young “scally” on the terraces of Goodison and Anfield, it went onto create a storm throughout the rest of the terraces in England and helped set a trend for hundreds of “zines” that spawned from the ashes of it, so much so that even now a lot of newer zines have certainly been influenced by the once great The End.  It would be also fair to say that The End has become a piece of Liverpool history as last year several original copies were given to the newly opened Museum of Liverpool in the Pier Head and can be found in the football section next to other great pieces of Everton and Liverpool memorabilia.

Anyone trying to get hold of original copies of the mag will have a job doing so even if this gem does manage to make it onto Ebay you will find yourself paying an arm and a leg for it, so I would recommend saving yourself a few bob and getting the book for a measly £20. However, I must say that if you are planning to grab a copy get it done soon, as when I went to pick it up in Waterstones in Liverpool last week there were very few copies left. As far as I’m aware, and I may be wrong here, the two Waterstones in Liverpool are the only place to get hold of it in a shop, however there may still be copies left on Sabotage Times website, so go and have a look and grab it now, ya mingebag.

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Recent Reads #2 – HALCYON Issue 01

I know I had a moan about the crappyness of 2011 in the last blog, however if there was one decent thing to take from last year it was the rise and my discovery of more independently written zines popping up here and there. One of my most recent, and favourite, reads last year was the very first issue of newly formed Liverpool (is right la) mag HALCYON. I first stumbled across Halcyon back in August when mooching about on twitter, at the time Halcyon was just a new webzine that was just starting off full of cracking little articles revolving around Football, Fashion, Film and Music one of which was published in August 2011’s issue of When Skies Are Grey (Everton fanzine). Not long after discovering the site and talking to a couple of the lads behind it via twitter I bumped into Dan (Sandison -Editor) and Rob (Gavin – Contributor/Co-Editor) at Weavers Door 1st Anniversary Birthday bash who made me aware that they were currently working on a potential paper version which got me rather excited and intrigued. So after a few months of keeping it on the sly the first issue of HALCYON Magazine was released just before Christmas, and I do have to honestly say it’s rather good.

The first thing you’ll notice about the zine is how well presented it is. Most “first issues” tend to be rather DIY and cut and paste and rough, not this one however. The magazine is presented in a rather excellent matted A4 complete with a good blend of greyscale and coloured imagery. Makes me wonder had I put that much effort into my zine (WithinXreach) when I was involved in the hardcore and straight edge scene years ago maybe I would have actually well, you know, released it. The articles are fantastically well written including a great interview with (now) Former WBC Super Middleweight champion Carl Froch prior to his bout with with Andre Ward last month in which he was stripped of his title after his 13 month reign. Other great articles in the mag include a a deck out with Liverpool indie outfit The Loud courtesy of the brilliant Weavers Door, an Average Footballer hall of fame featuring a Coventry City “Legend”, brand profiling of independently owned clothing brand “80’s Casuals” and a brilliant interview/article “Style Guide” with DJ Phat Phil Cooper a piece I found very intriguing myself as a bigger chap with an eye for smart clobber.

All in all the magazine, considering it’s a first issue, is excellent. I don’t think the lads behind it would be too upset with me if I said, being that it is a Liverpool based mag, there is definitely a “The End” influence in the magazine and although the execution is rather different (more concentrated and serious and a little less piss-takey, if that’s even a word) the general concept of the mag is on the same frame of mind i.e “Music, beer and football” (amongst other things) but in the end that’s NEVER a bad thing in my eyes, after all a great man once said that these subject matters were “The very stuff of life itself.” and let’s be honest, I think John Peel knew what he was talking about despite working for the BBC.

You can still pick up one of the last remaining copies of the mag from Weavers Door, Ran and Probe in Liverpool and in Ran and Oi Polloi in Manchester as well as a few other shops, check their FACEBOOK page or TWITTER for more details of where you can pick up a physical copy from. However, if by the time you read this and cannot get a copy of the zine you can view it on their website HERE. Oh did I mention it’s completely FREE as well, seriously, don’t sleep on this one.

 

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Recent Reads #1 – PROPER Magazine Issue.11

Yes, I've used this picture before...so sue me!

Back in the 80’s a group of scouse lads set out to write a little cut and paste fanzine talking about the footy, having a bevvy, trainers, life in Liverpool, music and genuilly just taking the piss out of everything. This little fanzine spawned into one of the best loved independent fanzines for the average lad on the terrace with an eye for smart gear, an ear for good music and a taste for a good bevvy. THE END magazine set the bar for independent fanzines and was loved by all who read it including legendary DJ the late John Peel who described the magazines contents of being “the very stuff of life itself.” Unfortunately for me I wasn’t born till 1986 so I never got the opportunity to experience THE END in all it’s witty glory, however many new publications have popped up over the recent years that have had that “The End” sort of inspiration and feel behind it that touch up on an even broader field of subjects for both the new generation of lads with the eyes, ears and taste for fashion, music and ale and the lads of yesteryear who can remember the days of The End and all the various other fanzines of their time.

For me, personally, none do it better than that of PROPER Mag. Proper started out as a website by two mates who then turned it into a small fanzine over 5 years ago with the intention of writing about smart gear, ale and footy. As the zine has aged it’s certainly graced and become a bit of a full on magazine, the most recent issue being a perfectly bound glossy 112 pages long. Although each issue come out every 6 months or so it’s become one of my favourite to read ever since I accidentally stumbled across issue 9 a couple of years ago. It’s a perfect combination of well written articles, interviews and reviews of smart clothes and the people behind the creation as well as well-humoured piss taking and witty banter of the best kind.

I recently picked up Issue 11 from Weavers Door in Liverpool and was certainly far from disappointed. The new issue covers a brilliant broad range of articles including an interview with Tokhito Yoshida, the man behind Barbour’s recent To Ki To range, and his wife whilst on a fly fishing trip and articles on London’s hidden gems, Norweigan scran, A guide to drinking real ale and rare albums you need in your life but don’t have. There’s also some great plugs and reviews of some very smart brands like Velour, 6876, Our Legacy and Vera as well as brilliant “Wish List” guide for an idea of perfect items to pick up once that winning lottery ticket pays up or that bank heist you’ve been planning all your life works out.

For me though it was a certain interview in this issue that really caught my eye. It was the interview with Yorkshire born Robert Wade-Smith the man behind the one and only Wade Smiths in Liverpool. Though I was born in the latter half of the 80’s and never got to experience the great “Trainer Boom” that happened in the city I certainly do have my memories as a kid of my ma buying my trainers for school every year from there and me always wanting to get the coolest (and usually most expensive) pair going and then eventually buying my Kickers and Pod’s that I wore for high school.  It’s a cracking little article for anyone with good memories of the once great Wade Smiths even if they, like me, weren’t around for the trainer boom.

Certainly a publication I would recommend anyone to pick up whilst they still can. It’s stocked in a handful of men’s clothes shops and record stores scattered about the country like Weavers in Liverpool or Oi Polloi! in Manchester but can also be bought from the Proper Mag’s direct WEBSITE which also acts as a bit of a webzine for articles and reviews that don’t make it to the zine. The Proper lads are also on the usual mediums of Twitter and Facebook so get adding and friending them now but most of all GO BUY THE MAG!!! Go on, stop being a meff and go get it, before it sells out and you feel foolish for not actually taking my advice for once.

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