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hationaI L tA q i i i s huge contrast between the way sport is seen there 1 compared to the UK. Publishers I talk to all follow « baseball, American football and basketball. No one t has any qualms about that. Here only cricket and golf o and maybe rugby union have that advantage. Publish| ers sometimes give away what they really think about | football when they publish a book calling it ‘soccer’. 3 For my money, that means they’ve already m issed the point somewhere.

WSC: Perhaps book publishers will always respond late to a wave of popular interest in something because of the amount of time it takes to spot it, commission their own version, get it printed, and so on, by which time the band wagon may have moved on . . . JG: It only becomes noticeable when what they’re putting out is such pap that people start doing it for them selves. Then they rush around like record companies trying to sign up punk bands. Certainly there have been been important periods in football in last few years when publishers have lost the thread and had their job done better by other people. There is no question that Fever Pitch wouldn’t have found a publisher ten years ago. WSC: But are there any developments in football publishing that can be put down to the mainstream being influenced by what has been happening in the margins? Are, for example, player biographies as bad these days as they used to be? JG: I don’t read many all the way through as I find find them rather dispiriting. One particular book out just lately is at least as bad as anything produced in previous tim es. I would like to think there has been an im provement, but I ’m not sure, because the machine still grinds on and ghost writers are all the same. As long as the tabloid writers are still churning them out, there won’t be any significant change.

There is no question, though, that fanzines have had a profound in flu ence on the broadsheet press both in terms o f the styles o f writing and in affecting their point o f view. It has meant that there are certain stories they wouldn't now write, and they don’t go about things in the old fashioned way. They can no longer pretend they can’t find a representative fan to ask for a quote when something happens at a club.

But you also get some journalists who are dism issive o f fanzines, who choose to focus just on the ones that use swear words all the tim e and present them as being the essence o f fanzine culture, but that would be m issing the point. It’s not at all about the

John Gaustad ponders a bit of light reading