Today I thought I’d look at something different than the normal books I review. I’m a big fan of football, although being a Sheffield Wednesday fan has made me appreciate the ups and downs of life a lot more than I should. Fanzines are a way for fans to comment on their teams. On the shelf above my desk are a few A View From The East Bank, and Spitting Feathers, both old Wednesday fanzines. They pull fun at our rivals and at ourselves, mixing this with articles about the past as well as present players. Add in the cartoons by Pete McKee and it is a winner. Pity it’s not around anymore.
A few years ago I started to support a non-league side from Hull, as well as the Owls. To be honest my support came more from searching Football Manager for a challenge than anything else. I’ve always had a great affinity for Hull and the sight of these green and white striped team made me choose them as a team to play. They became my team of choice to play from the start of every new game, until this season, but with the editor I could just make them appear.
So what’s that got to do with fanzines you might ask? And if you don’t then I’m going to explain anyway. Those who play the time consuming game will testify, you kind of get a bond with your club. You look for them in the results, follow them on social media and even go to watch them play if you can. Anxiety has kept me away from most matches, but I have experienced the wonderful atmosphere at Grange Lane a couple of times. I now watch their games unfold on Twitter, but like the Owls it’s been a tough few years. Glad to see them resurrected again and doing so well though. I wear the shirt with pride at home and cheer them on from afar.
So through this bond I discovered one of the best fanzines I’ve ever seen, A View From The Allotment End. It differs from most fanzines, in that its more journalistic in nature and an excellent read. The founder of VFTAE, Darren Norton, decided to launch a larger fanzine/magazine called View. It covers more than just football, but yet still retains it’s roots in football. It’s made issue two right now, which is always a big achievement.
This dropped through my letter box at the weekend. After the stark black of the first issue, this is kind of nice pastel blue. Impressions are good. It’s a quality publication produced on high glossy paper, properly bound and thick. The use of full colour quality photographs make it stand out and you’d think it was produced by an established publisher.
Picture doth not make a good magazine alone though, unless it’s a photo journal ;). The real test is if the writing is up to spec. I’m pleased to say that it is. This is a meaty dish, articles ranging from an obscure 90’s punk band, Leatherhead, through a brilliant tale of an afternoon in a real pub to the more usual football stories, this magazine has it all.
There’s a lot a writing and words crammed between it’s covers. A delightful article about a Hartlepools United footballer from the 30’s by the players grandson starts the magazine off. As with all magazines, they’re meant to be dipped into, yet I read from cover to cover. Some thought provoking articles are contained. Rob Kings view of VAR and post-truth era is fascinating and well argued. It had me nodding my head in agreement.
A great insight into Gosport player, Jamie Brown shows the dark underbelly of football ownership, one that all North Ferriby fans and players can relate to. An article by Peter Fleming about brewing in Hull was a nice nostalgic read whilst the almost creative writing style of Kevin Ross about an afternoon in a pub told the reality of the loss of these local pubs in favour of the chain pubs.The Maltese Experience was a lovely tale of visiting a Maltese football match. Ian Cusacks touching tale of mental and physical health was traumatic at times, but in today’s supercharged world a must read.
All in all, I must play credit to Darren Norton, Nick Quantrill and Rick Skelton for producing a diverse and outstanding magazine that boldly goes where other fanzines fail to go. Great journalism and super photos make this a must.