Shelf Life continued
Nick Hornby with the Sportspages ‘Book ofthe Decade1 award fact that it m ight allow you to swear, it’s about a different way o f talking about the game. Fanzines know they are are addressing a knowledgeable audience, whereas journalists som etim es seem to think they need to be explaining things to people, talking down to them, which is a mistake.
WSC: Alongside all the positive developments that have happened over the past few years, there must have been some disappointments, areas of football culture that haven’t developed in the way they might have done?
JG: There has been a big growth in academic material on football, but much o f it is pretty y j l l l inaccessible, and seem s to be taking place in a bubble o f f to the side somewhere. I find that dispiriting. Way back in 1980, Tony Mason produced a book called Association Football And English Society which was principally an academic book but still o f in terest to the general reader, but the best bits o f what he did haven't been developed.
You’d have thought w ith football being so popular that some academics who were football fans would be able to tie in their work w ith what’s been happening in the real world, but it mostly hasn’t happened. Also, I thought that more would have been published on international football. We sell a lot o f statistical books about European clubs, but despite a huge boom in football publishing a lm ost all the writing about football has been about British subjects. Football Against The Enemy was a big success, but is the only one o f its kind. That market definitely hasn’t been properly tapped yet.
WSC: A lot of people went to Sportspages intitally because that was the only place to stock fanzines. Do they still sell consistently well, or are there signs that the boom is over? JG: I f there’s a trend at all it’s slightly down. W e ’re gradually decreasing the number o f copies we order o f each title and don’t take as many o f a new one as we m ight have done five years ago. That’s partly an effect o f their having better general distribution. Also, in the first five years or so, people used to buy a whole range; they’d be in terested to read about, say, Scunthorpe, even i f they weren’t fans because they'd never read anything about them before.
Now they’ve become an accepted part o f football culture, some o f that sense o f excitem ent has been lost, that feeling that here were people all over the country who thought the same way you did. But that was inevitable. O
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S p o r t s t a g e s T & n S o t O t tc Q . z A first for WSC - a quiz with a genuine prize. £100 of Sportspages vouchers are up for grabs, generously donated byJohn Caustad. All you have to do is match the opening lines from football books belowto their respective authors - also listed, but cunningly j'umbled up:
1) “Eight AM at the Schooner Bar, Aberdeen. ” 2) “As I stood facing Princess Diana with the FA Cup gleaming between us it all seemed too good to be true. ” 3) “As a football manager’s son, I soon became aware of an event called ‘The FA Cup Final'.” 4) “As I boarded the plane for the British Isles, I wondered where the pilot was taking me. ”
5) “The second half of my life started as the first had finished, with me in a position that was all too familiar; on my knees, head over the toilet and being as sick as a dog. ”
6) “My grandfather on my dad’sside was a coalman; so was my dad. ” y) “I fell in love with football as I was later to fall in love with women: suddenly, inexplicably, uncritically, giving no thought to the pain or disruption it would bring with it. ” 8) “Mario Mariosardara, known to one and all as simply Marius, is a slightly stout, bow-legged and cheerful man, looking very well indeed on his sixty-odd years. ”
9) “Mick Byrne raps on the door just after nine. ” 10) “If ever I'm feeling a bit uppity, whenever I get on my high horse, I go and take a look at my dear Mam’smangle that has pride of place in the dining-room at my home in Quamton. ”
(a) Rock Bottom by Paul Merson and Harry Harris (b) Clough the Autobiography by Brian Clough and John Sadler (c) It’s A Funny Old Life by Jimmy Greaves and Norman Giller (d) Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby (e) Kanchelskis by Andrei Kanchelskis with George Scanlan (f) All Played Out by Pete Davies (g) Andy’s Game by Andy Townsend with Paul Kimmage (h) Armed With A Football by Andrew Ward (i) Bloody Casuals by Jay Allan (j) Tales of the Unexpected by Dave Beasant with Dave Smith
Three winning entries drawn out of a hat will receive vouchers worth £50, £30 and £20 for exchange for any merchandise in either the London orManchester branch of Sportspages. All entries should be sent to Sportspages Quiz, c/o When Saturday Comes, 4th Floor, 2 PearTreeCourt, London EciRoDS. Don’t forget to enclose your full name and address. Closing date is 17th November.