Saturday, December 15, 2012

The History of the Football Magazine - The Later Years!

In my last article 'The Early Years of the Football Magazine,' I outlined the birth of the football magazine from its inception up to the 1960's, where we saw the rise of publications such as "The Football Favourite," "Football Weekly," "FA Bulletin," "Voice of the Football Association," "Charles Buchan's Football Monthly" and "Soccer Star."

This week I am going to be concentrating on 'The Later Years of the Football Magazine,' from the mid 1960's to the present day.

We left 'The Early Years' following the merger of the "Soccer Star" magazine into "World Soccer" in the late 1960's.

"World Soccer" (right) remains the periodical authority on world football. It is part of the IPC media group, and a member of an umbrella group of similar titles published in other countries, such as 'Kicker' (Germany), 'A Bola' (Spain), and 'La Gazzetta dello Sport' (Italy).

"World Soccer" has always featured authoritative articles on the world football scene by writers such as Brian Glanville and John Ballard.

"World Soccer" is still going strong today and is in fact the worlds longest running football magazine, with a monthly circulation of around 52,000.

One of the next British magazines to show it's face was the "Soccer Review", ultimately to become the Football League Review (The Official Journal of the Football League) which started in August 1965. If you went to football matches from the late sixties and through to the mid seventies you will remember the insert from the Football League that came inside your clubs match day programme. However it did not appear in every football clubs programme. It was printed by Sport and Screen Productions in Leicester and was edited by Harry Brown. It qualifies as a magazine in its own right as it was always available either by post or from your newsagent right from launch. The Football League Review went through various name changes from "Soccer Review," to the "Football League Review," and finally the "League Football."

In 1967 we saw the launch of "Jimmy Hill's Football Weekly," (right) the first weekly football magazine in the world, if you consider the term 'magazine' as to incorporate a full colour glossy photographic front cover, even if the inside was black and white. Other weekly newspapers such as "Soccer Star" had been running before this time, but only with spot colour on the front page.

The JHFW magazine folded in 1970 when a large publishing group bought it as part of a portfolio - they went in for glossy, expensive publications but they soon decided that JHFW didn't fit their image and so it was ditched.

A former member of staff, Carol Davis, who worked on the JHFW magazine said "We never heard sight nor sound of Jimmy Hill during all the time I worked there - he simply lent his name to the mag and had no involvement; just another business venture for him I suppose." In 1968 Jimmy Hill became Head of Sport at London Weekend Television and rose to Deputy Controller of Programmes, before joining the BBC as presenter of "Match of the Day."

"Goal" magazine (right) joined the competition and was launched on 16 August 1968 with a "bash" at the Savoy, featuring Goal Girls and the assembled media, with Bobby Charlton signed up to do a weekly diary. It went on to became a successful magazine in the early 1970’s.

By 1971 "Goal" had weekly sales of 220,000, which gradually declined from that high point before the International Publishing Corporation (IPC) decided to incorporate it into IPC stablemate "Shoot!" magazine on 15 June 1974.

"Shoot!" magazines circulation had hit a high of 120,000 copies per week in 1996. It changed to a monthly magazine in 2001, selling in excess of 33,000 copies a month. It was relaunched as a weekly magazine in late February 2008 before publishers IPC sold off the brand in August 2008, a year short of it's 40th birthday.

"Shoot!" (right) was noted throughout the 1970's and 1980's for the quality of its news stories and articles on all aspects of football in England and Scotland. The magazine was also known for its 'Star Writer' features. Each season a selection of big-name First Division players were signed up to write columns, including Kevin Keegan, Bryan Robson and Charlie Nicholas. The magazine also featured the very popular Paul Trevillion's 'You Are The Ref' piece, which has since been afforded cult status and now appears in 'The Observer' newspaper sports supplement.

In 1974 "Charles Buchan's Football Monthly" closed and became "Football" and was maintained by IPC until 1995 when it was sold to Ken Bates at Chelsea.

"Match" magazine was launched on 6 September 1979, at a cover price of 25p. The original editor was Mel Bagnall. Kevin Keegan was the first cover star of  "Match" and supported the magazine with his column, 'Learn To Play The Keegan Way.' The first issue came with an 80-page sticker album and included columns by Tottenham star Ossie Ardiles, Manchester United's Steve Coppell and Nottingham Forest manager, Brian Clough.

On its launch in 1979, the magazine initially failed to catch the dominant circulation of its main weekly football rival, "Shoot!" In the mid 1990's the magazine was successfully revitalized and relaunched by Chris Hunt. Under his editorship "Match" was transformed, finally overtaking "Shoot" to become the biggest selling football title in Britain, with its weekly sales peaking at 242,000 during this period. "Match" continues to this date, but is more a comic than a magazine for grown ups.

No one really provided "World Soccer" with any monthly competition from 1974 until the launch of "When Saturday Comes" (WSC) in 1986. This magazine (right) started life as a 12-page photocopied fanzine in March 1986 on sale for 20p, and is still running today with a circulation of 21,000 at a price of £2.95.

There was an explosion of football fanzines in the mid 1980's. In January 1988 there were 22 fanzines in the "WSC" listing of like titles. A year later it was 121 and in January 1992 there were over 600. Many titles did not reach the list, but in 1995 it was estimated that in excess of 2,150 titles were available but only "WSC" survived as a mainstream football magazine.

"When Saturday Comes" aims to provide a voice for intelligent football supporters, offering both a serious and humorous view of the sport, covering all the topics that fans are likely to talk about, whether serious or trivial.

In the early-1990s the magazine began to take on advertising, and increased to 48 pages. WSC is still edited by Andy Lyons, who originally founded the magazine along with Mike Ticher.

"The Footballer" started in July 1989 and was sub titled the "Journal of Soccer History and Statistics". There were 36 editions of the magazine produced before it disappeared in June 1996.

"90 minutes" (right) arrived in October 1990 and stopped again on the 17 May 1997. It was started by Crystal Palace fan Dan Goldstein and remained independent until IPC took it over. It was launched at £1 an issue but was reduced to 65p quite quickly.

359 issues later when "90 minutes" ceased the editor in chief was Paul Hawksbee, now a presenter on TalkSPORT radio.
Dan Goldstein went on to write the "Rough Guide to Football" in 2000, which could be described as the only football book of its kind, in that it goes beyond the usual back page material to uncover the most amazing stories and unlikeliest personalities on planet football!

"Goalmouth" This monthly national football magazine was launched in May 1992 and lasted just one season. It was published by EPG Publishing and was edited by John Jackson. The price was £1.50 on launch and quickly went up to £1.75. This was reflected in the high quality paper used and the photographic reproduction work. It was a superior publication and it is a shame it failed after the one season.

"Four Four Two" magazine (right) was launched in September 1994 and targets an adult sports audience. It has now become the biggest-selling football magazine in the UK, with monthly sales figures in excess of 100,000. The magazine features a mixture of authoritative and serious-minded articles together with irreverent humour and nostalgia pieces. Another reason for its success is its ability to connect to the needs and feelings of the typical football fan.

Popular features include: 'Magic Moment,' 'Upfront,' 'They Said What?' 'Insider,' and 'My Perfect XI.'

"Four Four Two" is published by 'The Haymarket Media Group' and it launched its 200th edition back in February 2011.

The magazine has had an array of high-profile people amongst its regular contributors. The likes of James Richardson, who presented TV's Football Italia, Jonathan Wilson, football journalist and author of Inverting the Pyramid: A History of Football Tactics and Michel Salgado, footballer formerly of Real Madrid and currently playing for Blackburn Rovers are all currently involved. Previous contributors include: Henry Winter, Bobby Robson, Arsène Wenger, David Platt, the late Brian Clough and Robbie Savage.

For the grown up magazine readers we have still the big three: "World Soccer", "When Saturday Comes" and "Four Four Two" still slogging it out for world domination!

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