Death Of The Zine Scene As Red Issue Ceases Production
Wednesday, 14th Jan 2015 10:22
In the mid 80's the fanzine boom saw football clubs the length and breadth of the land sprout up over night and at every club, sadly it now looks like the end of an era almost 30 years later.
The Ugly Inside made its first appearance back in April 1988, Issue 1 was a little crude but within six months or so we had got our act into gear and were instantly recognisable because of our striped cover, often imitated never bettered.
We werent the first Saints fanzine, the short lived "Junk Mail" beat us to that, but we would become the longest lasting as we changed from a paper based fanzine into the web site you are reading this on now, the paper issues were produced from that 1988 beginning up until 2000 when the web site was launched in August of that year, again we werent the first Saints web site, but we have become the longest lasting.
Sadly now the fanzine boom is dying especially in the Premier league where clubs see a change in the type of fan attending with supporters who would buy fanzines being replaced by those of a more affluent and family nature who want nothing other than official club product.
On Saturday against Saints, Manchester United fanzine Red Issue hit the streets for the last time, it had been going for 26 years and this was the 295th issue, they are not citing declining sales as many Fanzines still going are, but simply because it can't stand the stench of football any longer, the statement in the final issue perhaps said it all for thousands of supporters of Premier League and indeedbeyond teams who no longer attend matches
“The game we’ve been clinging onto is gone. Football now is happy-clappy families, half-and-half scarves, tourists and selfie sticks; there’s no point trying to fight that.”
Liverpool fanzine Red All over The Land are not lovers of United as you can well imagine however they feel a sense of camaraderie with their counterparts from along the M62.
‘RED ISSUE’ didn’t give Liverpool, Liverpool players or Liverpool supporters an easy time; just the opposite but even so, ‘RED ISSUE’ stood against the tidal wave of modernism in football especially amongst their own. They didn’t care who they upset and a lot of the time they said what many of us were thinking when it came to modern football. I never really took offence at what they said or did because they said what they wanted to say. They were a Fanzine."
"If we’ve had anything in common it’s the contempt we feel for the modern game but whereas they apparently still sold enough copies to make the effort of producing a Fanzine a viable venture I’m afraid that’s not really the case for other Fanzines".
Red All Over The Land themselves are feeling the pinch and they could well be another casualty before too long.
"Over the last season or two we’ve seen growing numbers of overseas visitors to Anfield and I’ve nothing against them but they’re not going to buy something that’s obviously unofficial and printed in English.
Add to this the huge number of others that now arrive and who definitely fit into the ‘happy-clappy families, half-and-half scarves, tourists and selfie sticks’ group. They are happy to pay an extortionate amount of money for their ticket and all the trashy tack that gets sold in the club shop, pay well over the odds for food and drink inside the ground but don’t give Fanzines a second glance.
To them football is the circus. They are what the clubs want and win, lose or draw they go home happy with their bag of goodies and selfie pics. They feel that being part of the famous Anfield atmosphere is to stand up and shout, “Who R Ya” at the noisier away support."
Perhaps we at Saints arent having the same problems as at Liverpool or United, in some respects although it cannot be doubted that as much as half the crowd this season wasn't going to the games 5 years ago, most of the new age supporters are from the Southampton area we are not subjected to the amount of "Tourists" that Liverpool or United are so we maintain a sense of community although in truth our previous Chairman was looking to replicate bigger clubs and saw no benefit in community, he saw more profit in tourists.
But perhaps what is disappearing that fanzines really provided was a voice for the supporters and out of that came the Independent Supporters Associations and the Supporters Trusts, back in 1988 fans did not have a voice, the Ugly Inside provided it and the ability to rant against the club when you felt it.
Clubs listened and conditions improved as club boards realised that you couldn't just keep treating the fans like cattle, you had to listen to them or at least appear to listen to them or you could face rebellion, of course it also helped that at the same time a lot more areas of entertainment was opening out and even the most deeply rooted club chairmen realised times had changed and that fans would no longer turn up week in week out anymore.
Back in the fanzine heyday the pre internet early 90's some issues of the Ugly would sell 3,000 copies, if you consider that was around 20% of our average home gate at the time that was an incredible figure, compare that to most clubs and that was incredible, Red All Over The Land confess that in their heyday they would get to around 3% of the Anfield crowd or approximately 1,200. Now they are struggling to sell 250 copies.
Times always have to change and evolve, the paper fanzine was of an era as was the rattle or rosette, but it is sad when the newer supporter cares little for tradition only the today, whereas 25 years ago we refused to be treated as "customers" we demanded to be part of the club as we "were the club", todays average fan is happy to be treated as a consumer and when that happens you are on dodgy ground as a football club because you are entirely dependent on good times happening and show me a business who listens to consumers, the few who do are successful, most don't which is why every week you read of another big company struggling and rebranding.
On line supporter sites as indeed this one is plugged a gap in the early 00's as many fanzines gave up the goat, but whilst they provided a voice for the fans, unlike the camaraderie of the paper fanzine, it wasn't a collective voice, it was easy to get your opinion across on a message board but instead of a single voice backed by thousands, it was a thousand voices and the likes of Rupert Lowe and Nicola Cortese were delighted, the fans were doing the divide and conquering for them.
At Saints now we have no paper fanzines and apart from the odd social supporters club, London Saints being the biggest and longest standing(and a fine job they do to) they are all small fish and do not provide a voice for the majority.
Perhaps times have changed, perhaps supporters dont want a voice anymore, these sort of things were said over a decade ago when after a cup final appearancce it all looked rosy, yet within two years we were relegated and on a downward spiral that looks almost unbelievable when you look back on it.
But it is sad that yet another part of fan culture is disappearing, for well over a century that culture has thrived right from Victorian times, be it scarves, rattles, terracing, chanting, right through the true terrace culture of the 60's/70's/80's ,some of it needed to go, most of it only through evolution.
So what fan culture will be left once the fanzines have gone ? at the moment little that is memorable !
Photo: Action Images
Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.
You need to login in order to post your comments
Blogs 31 bloggers
When Saturday Comes #22 by wessex_exile
It’s the 15th of January, and still the U’s are attempting to play their first home match of 2022. Weather looks good (check), players have returned from injury (check), no on-day Covid testing to get in the way (check), so barring fire famine or flood, I reckon we must have at least a 50:50 chance of a game at the JobServe this afternoon. Whether it’ll be three much-needed points or not, and if you’ll pardon the pun, I at least did see green shoots at the New Lawn on Tuesday. We still lost, and the table doesn’t lie, but definitely signs to encourage me that whilst it’s not going to be a comfortable journey, we’ll be alright by May.
When Saturday Comes #21 by wessex_exile
Here we are then, what should have been the first home game of 2022, and I discover seconds before posting this that the game is called off because of a waterlogged pitch. Having gone to the trouble of writing this, even though we’re not playing I’m going to post it anyway – it’s not like you’ve got anything else to do this afternoon.
When Saturday Comes #20 by wessex_exile
Finally, When Saturday Comes…and the U’s (for now at least) have a match to play. Mind you, I’m writing this on Friday afternoon, so there’s still time yet for yet another Covid/ injury postponement, I guess. I certainly hope not, as I’m planning on heading over to Crawley for this one. Mind you, now that the EFL have decreed there will be no on the day testing to eliminate the possibility of last-minute cancellations, I think I’ll defer buying a train ticket until this evening. Needless to say, a repeat of our last visit to Broadfield (The People’s Pension Stadium under the terms of a sponsorship deal) would do very nicely indeed.
When Saturday Comes #19 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes…and the U’s find themselves fixtureless again, following Hartlepool’s request to postpone the game because of positive Covid tests amongst their squad. To heap further fixture congestion problems on the U’s, in short order Forest Green Rovers did likewise for our already rearranged match at the New Lawn on Tuesday night, and for the same reason. They’re not on their own either, with in all (so far) four Premier League and 19 EFL matches postponed today – all for positive Covid tests in their squads.
When Saturday Comes #18 by wessex_exile
A little later than usual today I’m afraid – ‘tis the season to be jolly and all that, so I have just been out for the obligatory Xmas tree – bah humbug. Mind you, I was treated to the sight of literally hundreds of Santas (and the occasional elf) on a charity fun run through Calne on the way, which for want of a better expression was certainly surreal. Officially entitled Santa’s Scamper, the entry fee for participants goes to charitable causes, and to date the organisers have raised nearly £8k for charities such as Wiltshire Air Ambulance, Dorothy House, Hope for Tomorrow, Barnardos and of course their main charity every year, Hannah’s Trees – well done Santas!
[ Vote here ]