A reader in Stockport once told us what he thought football was essentially about. On a grim Friday night at Edgeley Park with the home team losing 4-0, he had seen an irate spectator walk down to the perimeter wall and yell: “For God’s sake, fizz it around a bit.” Most fans, it has always seemed to us, experience each season as a succession of disappointments, enlivened by momentary fizz.
WSC’s own history has demonstrated football’s capacity for generating anger to an often perplexing degree. The best bit of publicity we’ve ever had came in a fly-on-the-wall Channel 4 documentary about Leyton Orient, when their then manager John Sitton read out sections of a WSC article that had described him as “limited but hard-working” before ripping it into shreds.
Our soaring dominance of the (then tiny) football magazine market was reflected by WSC featuring as a question in the general knowledge round of Mastermind – the contestant got the answer right and went on to win their heat – and being mentioned in Coronation Street. The mother of one of the McDonald twins asked him where his brother had gone, to be told: “He’s taken his copy of When Saturday Comes and gone to read it in the toilet.” (This is only hearsay, as Granada declined to send us a video.)
Aside from a startling business proposition from Ken Bates, the best phone call we ever had from someone in football was when Sir John Hall phoned on a mobile that kept going out of range. Sir John, though he kept up an indignant Norman Collier impression for 45 minutes in reaction to being compared unfavourably to Forrest Gump, wasn’t threatening legal action, but the lawyers for another chairman listed 14 complaints regarding an article about their client, one of which was the supposed implication that he “shared the genocidal proclivities of Adolf Hitler”. For sheer terror, however, no legal threat has matched the discovery that an employee at a former printers had written “WSC Twats” in felt tip across the centre pages of one issue – fortunately only in a few copies, as far as we know.
Having somehow survived into our 22nd year, WSC will be revamping it’s online coverage in 2008 with a heaving mass of new content and archived material on our website, www.wsc.co.uk – more details will follow soon.
From WSC 250 December 2007