Two of Nottingham’s best loved football fanzines Brian and The Pie will be given a new lease of life thanks to a regeneration project by LeftLion, supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund…
From the mid-eighties to the mid-noughties – and in the largely pre-internet era – football fanzines were a vital way of fans keeping in touch with each other and their clubs outside of the time they spent watching their team. In a time before the dominance of social media, Youtube, vlogs and podcasts fanzines were a primary form of communication between fans.
‘The Pie’ was a Notts County fanzine launched in 1987 and run by a team which included then Selectadisc record shop manager Jim Cooke and current CAMRA Nottingham Chairman Steve Westby. It ran over 88 copies until 2007 (with a brief comeback under new management a decade later) and was known to be one of the first football fanzines of its time.
‘Brian’ was a Nottingham Forest fanzine first launched in 1988 by Julie Pritchard. It ran over 48 issues until 1995. Its lifespan covered many notable moments for Nottingham Forest including two League Cup wins (1989 and 1990) and the Hillsborough disaster. Brian Clough himself was even photographed with a copy.
“We are planning to celebrate the history of these great fan-led publications by digitally archiving their entire back catalogues and making them available for people to read again online for free, forever thanks to funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund and National Lottery players.” Said LeftLion co-founder Jared Wilson, who will be leading the project.
“As a supporter of Notts County I grew up reading The Pie and it made me realise the power of fan-led publications and helped lead to a future interest in journalism. Since then I’ve also come to appreciate those of other clubs, including the rich history created by Julie and her team at Brian.”
The project follows on from a previous project funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund LeftLion completed in early 2020, where we released the digital archives of long-lost Nottingham culture magazine Overall… There Is a Smell of Fried Onions. You can view those archives online here.
Football fanzines are being taken increasingly seriously as part of our local cultural history and in academia, particularly for those looking at the impact of new technologies, racism in football, changes in football ownership and in the social class background and economic status of matchday fans. They also help contextualise a time before the Premier League and the media dominance of the sport itself.
“When we first started The Pie, the majority of the media were giving football fans a negative image and portraying us all as hooligans.” Said Jim Cooke, co-founder of The Pie. “We just wanted to communicate with each other and show that we were ordinary decent people who loved our football club. Also most football matchday programmes were pretty bland and we thought we could liven things up a bit.”
“It will be great to see our stuff to be out there to show people what the spirit of the time was and as it all pre-dates social media and the internet. It might also show what a physical effort it was to put an issue out as we all had full time jobs and used whatever money we accumulated by selling The Pie to put back into the club.”
“Fanzines became a key factor in clubs and media finally seeing football fans as human rather than yobs to be kettled and truncheoned,” said Brian founder Julie Pritchard.
“I started the Brian because no-one else had done one. I'd been waiting, ever since I first picked up some copies of 'When Saturday Comes' and 'Off The Ball' on a train back from Goodison in 1986, hoping that someone would want to write about the glorious enigma of Brian Rice and the correct pronunciation of Kjetil Osvald, but no-one did. Then came the epic Cup run of 1988 and, inspired by the romance of Halifax, the bricks of Birmingham and that goal at Highbury, the Brian was born.
“After all this time it will be great to be leaving some sort of legacy other than in boxes in people's attics dying of rusty staple blight. We have a rich and diverse football fan culture in Nottingham and, with 'The Pie' involved too, the archive will allow folk to take a deep-dive into the last great period of Nottingham football history.”
Some agreed outcomes of the project, which will be completed by the end of May 2024, are:
- To create free-to-access online archives of the fanzines to be shared online and made available for free to all
- To put on a series of events to celebrate the history of these and similar fan-led football publications
- To create a video documentary, showcasing the history of each fanzine and the people behind it
- To create a ‘How to digitise your fanzine’ pack (to a standard endorsed by the British Library) which will enable other fans nationwide to similarly celebrate their own team’s fan-led publishing
More details about the project will be revealed over LeftLion channels over the coming months. If you’d like to get in touch about it please email Jared on fanzines(AT)leftlion.co.uk.
We are particularly keen to hear from anyone who contributed to The Pie or Brian and also from anyone involved in other local football fanzines (we know these are just two of many).
We'd also like to encourage fans and former contributors to join the conversation on these Facebook Groups:
About The National Lottery Heritage Fund
As the largest dedicated funder of the UK’s heritage, The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s vision is for heritage to be valued, cared for and sustained for everyone, now and in the future as set out in our strategic plan, Heritage 2033.
Over the next ten years, we aim to invest £3.6billion raised for good causes by National Lottery players to bring about benefits for people, places and the natural environment.
We help protect, transform and share the things from the past that people care about, from popular museums and historic places, our natural environment and fragile species, to the languages and cultural traditions that celebrate who we are.
We are passionate about heritage and committed to driving innovation and collaboration to make a positive difference to people’s lives today, while leaving a lasting legacy for future generations to enjoy.
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