14 March ~ March 2011 is the 25th anniversary of the first issue of When Saturday Comes. To commemorate this we'll be looking back at each of those 25 years, one week at a time, starting with the declaration of intent which appeared on the cover page of the first ever WSC
As I write this I'm looking at two pictures which just about sum up everything that's right and everything that's wrong with British football today. One is of Pat Nevin and the other is of Ken Bates. They're both smiling but Pat's smile says: "I'm doing something I love", and Bates's says: "I've fooled you all". I could go into detail, but I'm sure you know what I mean. Some people are in football because it's what they do best and what they enjoy doing, others are in it to squeeze every last drop of prestige, power and money out of it – and at the moment The Squeezers are having a fine old time of it.
Right, hopefully that'll be just about the last bit of moralizing and pontificating in this issue. This paper isn't going to be any sort of crusade (some bits of it might be!), which is just as well, considering how many people are likely to read it, but I thought I ought to sketch in a bit of background first, in case you thought I was coming to laugh at football's funeral. Of course the game's in a bad way, but if everyone's just going to be miserable about it and go around wringing their hands all day, then there's not much point trying to save it all. It's meant to be fun for Chrissake!
OK, definitely no more preaching. Maybe I should try to say what I want "When Saturday Comes" to be, or at least what I don't want it to be. It's not going to be cliched, hackneyed, lazy journalism, it's not going to be banal ghostwritten platitudes, it's not going to be tedious whitewashing interviews, it's not going to be full of statistics or match reports, and it's certainly not going to indulge in petty rivalries, though it must be fairly obvious already where my sympathies lie! All that sort of stuff is available in abundance elsewhere.
What it might be a bit more like is the sort of thing you talk about in the pub. Gossip, stories, arguments, some serious things that never get discussed anywhere else, like racism at football, but mostly not. It depends a lot on what other people contribute – obviously I really only know about things that go on in London, so I really want to hear from other places. Why do Forest (and Mansfield) supporters chant "One, One, One" when they get a corner? What exactly is a Perrie? What is it about certain clubs (e.g. Liverpool, Ipswich, Arsenal) that attracts so many players with big noses? Does anyone in football actually like Ron Saunders? What sort of crowds do Stenhousemuir get? These are the sort of questions I've always wanted the answers to, but no publication ever tells me. Maybe "When Saturday Comes" will, it's up to you.
Please don't bother to turn the page if your name is: Jimmy Hill, Brian Moore, Bert Millichip, Ted Croker, Robert Maxwell, Kevin Keegan, Clive Thomas, Don Revie, Ron Saunders, Ken Bailey, Irving Scholar, Don Howe, Bobby Robson, Jack Charlton, John Bond, Bob Wilson, Graeme Souness, Ron Noades, Howard Wilkinson, Ron Atkinson, or anyone else who thinks they know what's good for us. You wouldn't enjoy it, anyway, at least I sincerely hope not.