Reverting to type: City Gent

There are fewer printed fanzines now, but some of the best are still going strong two decades on. Mike Harrison reports

City Gent launched in October 1984 but had been discussed for at least 18 months. What gave it the final push was the fact that the founding editor, Brian Fox, was unemployed, so able to commit time, and sought a career in journalism. 

CG was originally launched as the magazine of the independent City travel club – CTC ’73. It was very well received by fans from early on, but was met with some bemusement from the club. To his credit, though, chairman Stafford Heginbotham embraced it. We’ve been allowed to sell CG inside Valley Parade from day one, though it was withdrawn from the club shop on two occasions. The fact that it launched in a momentous season (1984-85, which ended in the fire at Valley Parade in which 56 fans died) gave it a strong momentum.

There has been a long-held policy that the club chairman, manager and captain receive a complimentary copy. Ex-players who are known to read it include John Hendrie, Ian Ormondroyd, Wayne Jacobs and Peter Beagrie. Some responded quite differently. There was a threat of legal action from Lee Sinnott following CG 29 (April 1990). He took exception to an article regarding alternative jobs for the squad. We had to get out our black felt-tip pens and blank out the offending piece; an apology followed, along with a cheque for £100 payable to Bradford Royal Infirmary (Children’s Unit), sent by editor Mick Dickinson to Sinnott’s solicitors.

On at least two other occasions I have received letters from solicitors which were in effect warnings on behalf of their clients. There was also a phone call from local radio DJ Nic Tuff threatening action, which had to be taken seriously at the time.

Richard Mallison wrote some tremendous send-ups of Geoffrey Richmond among others, notably one that described the former chairman in a rage while someone quietly fried an egg on his head. There was also the “We Want Football” demand in the style of a ransom note with letters cut out of a newspaper, which took ages to put together and went down well in issue 36 (August 1991), and the saga of the club hiring an Ashley Ward lookalike to play when our non-scoring striker was injured, suspended or couldn’t be bothered.

While lot of ’zines have disappeared in the wake of the internet boom, City Gent is still going due to a succession of people being prepared to shoulder the burden. Perhaps we’ve always been fortunate to have had a good group of fans with literary persuasions (or no social life) who have kept it going these past 22 years. Having taken it over in July 2004, my philosophy is that as long as there are enough Bradford City fans wanting to contribute and, more important, who also want to buy it, then I’ll keep it going. The title of the longest surviving fanzine is something to be proud of.

From WSC 230 April 2006. What was happening this month