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The First Eleven, by When Saturday Comes

Posted on August 22, 2011 by samh

The First Eleven, first published in 1992

This collection brings together replica editions of the first 11 issues of When Saturday Comes, the groundbreaking football fanzine which started in 1986.

The first issue was limited to only 100 copies available by mail-order only, and, as WSC co-founding editor Mike Ticher points out, it was “put together with all the meticulous production skills of a chimpanzee wearing boxing gloves”.

But it shows that the burning issues of today are nothing new: on the serious side, an article on a ‘friendly’ match between Chelsea and Rangers discusses the problem of racism and religious fanaticism, and not-so-seriously, the topic of the ever-changing strip is bemoaned: “Come on you blue two-tone hoops with red and white trim and a little emblem on the sleeve and the manufacturer’s logo and the sponsor’s name across the chest and…”.

WSC gave far greater exposure to lower division clubs than other mainstream magazines of the time, and the fanzine’s writers also made the important connection between football and the wider media – while the wider media themselves were doing everything to disown football. To this effect, there is an illuminating interview with the sadly missed and legendary DJ and Liverpool nut John Peel (who also wrote the foreword to this book).

When you compare this with today’s WSC, you are immediately struck by the difference in appearance, but it is clear that the basic stance has not changed all that much: it has gone from being the Private Eye of football fanzines to an altogether more mature football magazine which has equal standing alongside its glossy counterparts. But this does not mean it has compromised itself in any way; it is a natural progression from being young and angry, to being older and wiser – but still as angry. Ticher dryly asserts that WSC “has since been the subject of numerous enthusiastic investigations by undergraduate students in media studies”, but this is true – it has. WSC has become an important part of popular culture history whether it likes it or not.

Review by Sam Hawcroft

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