When Skies Are Grey, and the Rise and Fall of the Fanzine

Times are tough for the football fanzine in this digital age, but a brave few are ploughing on. Needless to say we heartily approve of the latest cover of legendary Everton fanzine – When Skies Are Grey…

Extract from Got, Not Got

In 1976, punk fanzine Sideburns featured three diagrams of finger positions on a guitar, hand-drawn across a page – an E, an A and a rudimentary G.
“This is a chord…This is another…This is a third… NOW FORM A BAND.”
It took a little while for the revolutionary DIY ethic to catch on in the world of football, but eventually fans took to their cranky old typewriters, hunting and pecking and ker-chinging out their frustrations, and learning all-new reprographic skills along the way.
They were tired of hearing ‘The Fans’ View’ expressed second hand in the media, where the final word, the final edit, was always predictably happy and safe. Before the 1980s, every word written about football came from an industry perspective – tapped out by writers who were paid by newspapers, magazines, television companies or club programmes, which were in turn reliant on the FA, the League or the clubs themselves.
It’s a tough job, running the back page of a local paper without access to news information, player interviews or pictures.
No such problem for the first wave of fanzine rebels , who offered an all-new diet of uncensored opinion cut with terrace humour, finally putting the majority view of 20,000 regulars above the handful of professionals and hired hands – the chairman, the players, the manager, the gentlemen of the press box – who were just passing through.
No matter if they were presented under headlines written using felt-pen, Letraset or John Bull Printing Outfit No. 7: here, for the very first time in print, were negative as well as positive views on our beloved clubs and teams, jokes at our own expense, better jokes at our local rivals’ expense, album and gig reviews, stories of away trips, pubs and pies…always pies.
Fanzine editors read other fanzines, together with the NME, Viz comic and music fanzines: they were never going to make the old guard’s mistake of assuming football fans were only interested in football. In place of the previous pall of uniformity and agreement, here was a magnificently eccentric range of stories and arguments about everything from Subbuteo and the miners’ strike to real ale and the Jesus and Mary Chain – complete with unashamed local bias and slang never before spelled out in print. Most important was a bedrock of unfakable shared memories and local obsessions that made the whole publication seem like double Dutch to oppo fans, with their funny, wrong-coloured scarves and inflatable badgers.

And, somewhere along the way, we discovered it wasn’t just the fans in our corner of our ground who felt the same way about all-seater stadiums and ID cards, about the wreckers who came to football to chuck bananas and seats on the pitch, and the wreckers who came bearing calculators.
And pies.

Subscriptions to When Skies Are Grey are: 
uk : £20.50 – europe: £29.50 – rest of the world: £37.10

You can order through their online shop www.freewebstore.org/wsag and follow link).
All transactions are done through Paypal and are secure.  Or the good old fashioned way by sending a cheque or postal order to:
WSAG, PO Box 135,  12 Liverpool, L9 7WP
Any queries please email them at whenskiesaregrey@btinternet.com


About thefoxfanzine

Editor of The FOX Fanzine - covering Leicester City for 23 years... it seems longer.
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