Thursday, April 06, 2006

Ludicrous! simply Ludicrous

The first phase of Ugly Man petered out in 1989 as my ability to fund my hobby met the demise of Red Rhino. I guess to a certain extent I realised what my brother had realised during the second single. Okay I'm a slow learner. You are not going to get any thanks for helping or screwing up peoples god given right to fame and fortune.

So it was that I moved into the world of publishing. In the 80's I had admired and respected the legacy created by Dave Haslam's Debris and loved the sense of community that surrounded it, writers artists and sellers all together in a fascinating collective. Parallel to this ran the burgeoning Football Fanzine phenomena of the late 80's. Here was an opportunity to do something creative and fun. Rodney, Rodney! was born.

In the 80's, being a football fan was much akin to a kind of social leprosy. You would go into work on a Monday and tell people you have been main lining cocaine, sleeping with a mixture of men women and animals, indulging in the most bestial types of anti-social behaviour, but would rarely whisper you were at the Bury -Tranmere match at Gigg Lane.

Against this background of secret activity, a group of smart guys (sorry it was a guy thing) started writing about their passion for football. Three fanzines shone out at the start of this phenomena The Absolute Game, a Scottish based magazine, When Saturday Comes (London) and Off the Ball (Birmingham). These superb reads were born out of the frustration that for so long the fans had been the butt of the media’s negative spin on football. Football fans were scum bankrolling the entire industry but scum all the same. Suddenly there was a voice articulating an entirely unheard view from terraces and it was a revolution – and I wanted some of it.

During this time I was working at a huge (the World’s biggest) advertising agency, we had just introduced personal computers into the business, yes it was that long ago. The guy in charge of the system had got a trial copy of a new programme that was the first desktop publishing software. He allowed me, in the time before and after work to give the programme a run out an see if was any good. I created the first edition of the 20 page Rodney Rodney! using this major breakthrough in computing.

The writers in that First edition were a motley crew of footie lovers with whom I had strong and tenuous links.

  • Craig Ferguson – Main writer and guitarist in The Danny Boys, man who introduced me to the Man from Delmonte and radio co-collaborator.

  • Sally Bond – a sort of Sunderland fan widow mate of mine at the time.

  • Roger Titford – the partner of my then boss Christine King. Roger was a “died in the wool” Reading Fan [member 11001] of many years experience and he was riding a wave of euphoria at the time as his team were going to Wembley and enjoying the highlife after years of under achievement. I can only imagine how he feels now that his club are in premiership.

  • Stephen Jones – an early member of the Desert Wolves who gave up popular music to become one of the UK’s foremost medical negligence litigators.

  • Peter Morris – a soccer journalist from the 70’s who had written, at the time, in praise of my hero Rodney Marsh – the idolatry figure behind my publication.

  • Ed Glinert – a Manchester based Gooner journalist whose partner worked in mail order with me.

  • Peter Seal – my favourite designer and good friend designed the front cover it looked superb

  • Me – well you know all about me.

It was a neat A5 24 page booklet, bit light on the proof checking, but beautiful and after a weeks printing at Raven in Manchester it was ready to go out to the masses. 2,000 copies at 40p a time. This time next year we’re going to be millionaires Rodney….. Rodney!

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