In Praise of The Football Pink

Back in June 2013, when I was still doing my old job, I was bored and frustrated and fancied writing again. I had studied English at university, as well as editing a student newspaper, and writing was something I had always enjoyed. I found a small academic article about James Joyce, Vladimir Nabokov, and a Hungarian football team, wrote a short piece, and then published it on a blog I had created for the purpose. Shortly after that, Mark Godfrey of The Football Pink contacted me and said how much he’d enjoyed it and could he share it on his own blog? And so, in effect, began my writing career in sports; I’ve been to the Rugby World Cup, written for a host of sites and some magazines, and been slated on the internet for being a ‘Football Manager expert’, and it’s all Mark’s fault.

screen-shot-2016-11-03-at-20-51-41Of course, The Football Pink has gone from strength to strength, being nominated for fanzine of the year at the 2015 Football Supporters’ Federation awards and now in its . It’s a powerful testament to the enduring quality of the publication and website, Mark’s own interest in football and developing writers, and the thirst that exists for articles that eschew the standard click-bait nonsense and delve deeply into the far and fascinating corners of the world of football.

Fanzines are the perfect vehicle for this sort of writing, as Mark says, “Fanzines are a physical, tangible object and while you can throw it away, I feel that the stories, articles and topics covered in a print magazine somehow carry more weight and significance than most material you see online, which – to me – can often seem more throwaway and forgettable.” Rather than mere printed ephemera, “You can keep and collect print fanzines and revisit them more readily than internet pieces and in this way they become more cherished.”

screen-shot-2016-11-03-at-20-52-16Mark has been reading fanzines himself since the early 90s and was inspired, after starting to blog, to take the next step: “I thought – with the blessing of my wife who tolerates me spending not only hours of my free time but also our savings – why not try to produce the type of fanzine that I would like to read? Maybe there are others out there who would enjoy it just the same.” As he explains, “While we’re still very much an amateur, DIY outfit in the shadow of The Blizzard and the mainstream publications, I think we have found a little niche and a hardcore readership that appreciate what we do and continue to support us.”

Part of that appeal is Mark’s continued desire to take a punt on new talent, which brings its own benefits as the range of material submitted can rove across a whole variety of topics. As Mark says, “I like to think our output is of great variety in style, topic and opinion and appeals to a wide range of ages, backgrounds and foibles.”

screen-shot-2016-11-03-at-20-50-59Measuring success is tough, especially in the saturated market of football writing. As Mark says, “Are we successful? Listen, we don’t sell anywhere near as many copies as I’d like it to and that’s not from a financial standpoint… I would love it if more people bought it and enjoyed it as I genuinely believe it is a good fanzine and is improving each issue.” That’s not to say The Football Pink hasn’t succeeded in many, if not most respects. The fanzine is stocked in Foyles on Charing Cross Road and was very close to winning the FSF’s prestigious award, despite Mark graciously saying that the Bradford’s The City Gent was a deserved winner.

Thankfully, despite the challenges, Mark is sticking with the project: “Financially, it makes no money or sense to run a fanzine, especially on my own, but I love doing it and while people still want to read it then we’ll keep going.”

I, and many others, can be grateful to The Football Pink and a number of other fanzines for encouraging, developing, and promoting new writers and exposing readers to sheer range of subjects that can be covered in new and exciting ways. Football writing deserves to be pushed to be better, and Mark and The Football Pink are at the vanguard of that. Long may it continue.

Buy . You can also still get many back issues, including the superb .

Read my most recent post on The Football Pink, on a photography exhibition celebrating diversity.

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Images courtesy of The Football Pink

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