Fans with type writers was how football fans have been described who ventured into writing such as Nick Hornby who is regarded by many as having kickstarted the new football writing. Before he published his exceptional Fever Pitch, there was the flourishing fanzine development in England out of which When Saturday Comes (WSC it’s shorter and more convenient) was born.
When Saturday Comes
The half decent football magazine was launched in 1986 to provide intelligent football supporters with detailed reports about the state of the game. Initially there were no adds in the magazine and only since the mid-1990s ads are allowed in the magazine. Thankfully all of these are football related, i.e. there are no beer adverts, cars, gadgets etc to be found in the magazine. The price has increased over the years which is normal but it still within reason considering the small business this still is; 48 pages for just under 3 quid is acceptable each month.
The downside is that there is hardly any serious coverage from Europe or the rest of the world. The focus is mainly on British football, i.e. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. There are pieces from various countries across the globe but these are very short (one page) and have the character of an overview. The book section is normally very insightful.
For a long time there was nothing comparable to WSC in Germany. It took until 2000 when 11Freunde, Germany’s magazine for football culture was published that came somewhere near the quality of it. Initiated by a few fans of Arminia Bielefeld and their initial fanzine “um Halb Vier war die Welt noch in Ordnung” the magazine soon became the gravity centre of creative football writing in Germany, aimed at fans who shared an interest in the game that went beyond the mere statistics offered by Kicker Sportmagazin or SportBild. Unlike WSC ads are from all areas but somehow football related. The current magazine runs to more than 100 pages for about €5, which again is reasonable for a monthly publication.
The focus is on German football but the stories from Europe or the world are an important feature and have always been an integral part of the magazine. Travelling football fans have the chance to send their match reports from the Fiji Islands and these are normally printed, offering some insight into how important football is even on holiday. The book section is excellent and features a column that deals with books from England. There is or was a focus on the ‘motherland of football’ as there used to be a monthly column by Matthias Paskowsky who delivered a piece of football history from England. Further Titus Chalk had weekly column online to enthuse or rant about the Premier League.
Der Tödliche Pass
Quite on the contrary end of writing in Germany is Der Tödliche Pass. The magazine’s subtitle reads for “a critical observation of the game of football“; that says it all. The content of the magazine certainly lives up to the title. It is an in-depth approach that separates The Pass from 11Freunde. There is no advertizing in the magazine at all which is refreshing. The editors are the main writers too and they do not shy away from openly stating their opinion on the state of the game. Based in Munich a certain local bias towards the town’s clubs TSV 1860 München and Bayern München is a given. The diary is a column worth reading as it has a lot of comments on everything about football, nationally as well as internationally. The magazine intends to take a very critical stand towards postmodern football. Subscription is reasonably priced at €25 per year for four issues.
The exploration of Jonathan Wilson, author of books like Inverting the Pyramid, Anatomy of England kicked off last year with Issue Zero. This magazine focuses on the writing about football and nothing else. Each of the so far four issues of The Blizzard are about 180 pages strong and filled to the brim with football stories from all kinds of angles. Match reports as well as interviews and tactical and historical pieces find space alongside some fictional accounts of the 1978 World Cup in Argentina during the time of the military dictatorship. Interestingly, the subscription is on a pay-what-you-like basis, i.e. as low as 1 Pence for the pdf-version, while print is recommended at 12 quid per issue. Too much? No. Given that there are 180 pages and that this price just about covers the printing costs and a good looking website, this is a bargain.
The Green Soccer Journal
Lastly: The Green Soccer Journal which is published twice a year with one issue costing 11 quid. The focus is to combine the design of a lifestyle magazine with that of a football magazine. It offers reports and fashion and thus is dangerously close to other glossy magazines but so far the editors have avoided this corner of the magazine market and rather created their own niche. Whether this is sustainable remains to be seen as the market is competitive and a new football magazine not the easiest of tasks one can imagine.
There is literally a market for every one who is interested in football and all of these publications introduced here have a vivid online platform where readers comment, debate and discuss current issues in football. For a change there is as much passion in the German football magazine market as there is int e English and both countries seem to have parallels.
- How much football can you talk about to a non-fan? (bbc.co.uk)
- England’s new found love: Germany (donotmentionthewar.wordpress.com)
- When scoring is not enough (anoldinternational.co.uk)
- Football culture: Who are you? Warrior or tika taka technician? (edition.cnn.com)