Fandom and Magazine Making

*I found The Football Pink – through a re-tweet. And I started to follow the account. I contacted the editor, Mark Godfrey and asked him some questions about being a life-long Everton fan and how his magazine, The Football Pink (TFP), came to be. Issue No.11, is some 50pages of pure footballing history and curiosities. TFP is both digital (free) and printed (to be purchased). Both formats have their own articles. In his article on the ‘zine scene’, Godfrey writes of the glut of football writing so easily available: ‘the sheer volume of content […] caters for just about everyone. Everyone, that is, but the people who prefer the feel of paper between their fingers’. Below is edited version of the answers that Mark sent via email. I asked him about his being an Everton fan, and making a magazine.

I’m from an exclusively Evertonian family. My grandmother and her brother were Everton-mad going back before the Second World War. That carried on through my dad and uncle who started going in the 1950s and through the 60s.

I can still remember my first game, or at least being taken there, aged 4 1/2 years old – a 1-0 extra time win in the FA Cup against Southampton at Goodison on Feb 17th 1981. It has stuck in my mind then because it was the day before my sister’s 2nd birthday.

So-much talk about ‘modern football’ indicates a general dislike for so many aspects of the contemporary game. The big clubs of the EPL and elsewhere are ‘global brands’ and their supporters are treated in an offhand manner: Charlton Athletic perhaps being the latest example. (See The Guardian, Is Roland Duchatelet leading Charlton into the Valley of No Return?) How has your attitude changed over time towards football?

In terms of balancing scepticism with modern, globalised sport, I suspect it’s partially a knock-on effect of approaching 40 myself as much as what money and globalisation has done to football and other sports. Football was always a pure and simple love. When I wasn’t playing I was watching; I didn’t like much else growing up, maybe Subbuteo. Even as a fan of one club, I just enjoyed watching anybody play. It was enthralling, exciting, engrossing somehow. Most games you play in or watch are mediocre at best, many are downright garbage, but so many of us keep going back to it. Maybe, when we get to a certain age, our attachment to football (or whichever pastime we grew up infatuated by) is just a yearning for the past or a reluctance to detach yourself for something you perceive as a better time.

My best friend has virtually thrown football in, Everton and all. He says he just can’t get annoyed or ecstatic about the game anymore. While I’ve certainly experienced a fade in the ‘passion’ for football, I can’t put it down as easily as he can. The project of making TFP is part of my changing relationship with football.

How did TFP come about?

TFP was initially just set up as something to fill my time when I was working away from home. Writing became a distraction and as it slowly stated to grow and I got more into it, the ideas to open it up to fellow writers and bloggers, and to then branch off into the printed fanzine, manifested themselves. From the start, I hoped to turn TFP into something respected and known, but I felt like I wanted to create something I enjoyed and felt that perhaps was a shortage of.

Making it is never a chore, but it’s certainly hard work pulling it together and does take up a lot of time. However, I am really proud of it and where it has come in a short space of time and I feel that can only continue as long as my desire and the will of others to contribute towards it remains. It’s fun being small, quirky, independent; we’re never going to challenge the established players like When Saturday Comes or FourFourTwo but we’re not really trying to. I always wanted to produce something that people admired and when they finished reading would say ‘that was actually pretty decent’ whether that was 1 person or 1,000.

Do you have any particularly established habits of going to games?

It depends who I’m going to watch…if it’s my local non-league team, Blyth Spartans – who I watch more frequently than Everton – then it’s things like standing in the same place at one end and then changing ends at half time to watch Blyth attack the other goal in the second half. Travelling to Everton we tend to stop at the same motorway services, go to the same pub, spend a similar amount of time in the club shop etc. I do like to sit in the same section whenever I go there but I never really mind where I am at Goodison Park for a game, I love the place. It never loses its awe regardless of the countless times I’ve been there and how familiar it is. In contrast to so many cookie-cutter stadiums, Goodison Park still shows the traces of its initial design by Archibald Leitch.

Why Everton?

I think, even in the modern cash-obsessed world of Premier League football, there’s something quaint and endearing about Everton. Old-fashioned, stuck in a time warp; fixated on long gone better days. The club still has a sense of community and locality about it and still hasn’t turned full on commercially motivated monster….which is admirable but is also to its detriment in terms of achieving sporting or economic success. Jim Keoghan has written something about the slightly peculiar mentality of Evertonians in Issue 11 of The Football Pink.

There are two or three songs synonymous with Everton…there’s the Z Cars theme of course, that the team walk out to. I can’t resist whistling along before letting out a bellow or cheer before kick off. ‘It’s a grand old team’ is another favourite and in the last couple of years, the Goodison crowd have resurrected the old ‘Here We Go’ tune, with full lyrics, which the club released as a cup final single back in 1985. A nice connection to our sadly long gone glory days.

Why always Everton?

I am like any other perverse, masochistic football fan. I love my team and going to watch them even when they are garbage. In fact, I think I love them more for it. Unfortunately it’s now more than 20 years since we won a major trophy which considering the club’s history as England’s 4th or 5th most successful club, is practically criminal. We have taken a very long walk through mediocrity, and although supporting your team should be a given through thick and thin, we really do expect to be doing better than we have for so long now.

I remember the glory days of the 80s vividly even though I was just a lad then. It’s the younger folk I feel sorry for. They have our history rammed down their throats which raises their expectations, yet they’ve never seen us come close to replicating anything close to those feats. I hope that we win something soon…anything! There’s no better feeling for a football fan, and it could be the spark to a better and more competitive future. But would I want us to become the next Chelsea or Manchester City and have some rich foreign owners to come in and buy their way to sustained success? Probably not, but ask me again if the unlikely ever happens.

Reading Sideways