Fanzine Review: Are You the Clown? (No: 3 – February 2023)

Back in February 2021 FBR reviewed the first edition of Atherton Collieries Supporters Club Fanzine Are You the Clown? A link to the review is here:

Just over two years later, a third edition is out. It is as with the first issue in an A5 full colour format with an increase from 36 to 52 pages. It is of course centred on events at the Skuna Stadium, Alder Street, the home of the Colls and is therefore primarily aimed at those of a Black & White persuasion. However, there is more than enough interesting content for those interested in football and the non-league game in particular.

In this edition, the articles include the thoughts of a Colls fan who attended the World Cup in Qatar, which whilst interesting would have benefitted from been expanded to include more about the writers thoughts and experiences from what was acknowledged as once of the most controversial hosts down the years. This is followed by one of the longer pieces within the fanzine from Tony Mooney, and is a cracking read. Mooney tells of how he fell out of love of the professional game during his time supporting Bolton Wanderers and how he has rekindled his joy of the sport through following Atherton. His story of the friendship, and connection to the club is both heart-warming and familiar to all those who follow the non-league game.

Elsewhere, the experience and life of match officials are explored through a couple of articles, A week in the life of an EFL Referee from current man-in-the-middle, Darren Handley and Who would be a referee? from retired non-league match official Patrick Hayes, both offering interesting perspectives.

Also amongst the 52 pages is an extensive review of the calendar year 2022 from fan Emily Madden, which charts her highs and lows as Colls settled into life in the NPL Premier Division. There is also a pictorial review of the 2021/22 season featuring the programme covers from the Colls league and cup fixtures from the season.

Throw in articles about how 85 year old fan Eric Lancaster cycled 52 miles to watch Atherton in FA Cup action in Ossett, and one that nearly saw the Wimbledon FC ‘Crazy Gang’ play the Colls to christen the Alder Street floodlights and you can see that there is plenty of content to enjoy.

One thing to finish on and which adorns the back page is a ‘thank you’ dated November 1918 from Fletcher, Burrows & Co. Ltd who owned all the collieries and built cotton mills in Atherton. It praised the efforts of all those employed in the collieries and their contribution to the war effort. What it illustrates and is hugely important to the non-league community then and now, is the importance of community, of roots, of history – something the modern day professional game has long since lost.

This publication is a credit to the Club and the hard work of those involved in putting it together, such as Club Secretary Emil Anderson and Media Team, Rob Clarke and Zach Pierce.

For copies of all the issues to date please visit:

Magazine Review: Black & Gold – The magazine of the Aberdeen FC Heritage Trust (Issue 3/May 2021)

Whilst lockdown deprived football fans of their ‘live’ fix of their team, it spurred a wave of creativity amongst supporters who looked to stay in touch and connect with those they went to games with week in, week out, until COVID struck. Indeed this was the inspiration behind Black & Gold, a magazine setup by Peter Elliot with the Aberdeen FC Heritage Trust.

Peter explains: “I set the mag up with the Trust to engage with the wider Dons support during the lockdown last year (2020). Seeing a lot of older film footage and other material shared by fans of all clubs opened up the fact that football fans were interested in historical writing. There’s a great team of contributors to the magazine who have their own interests, either in players, grounds, memorabilia or general reminiscences.”

The first issue landed in November 2020, with a second in February 2021 and the third edition (reviewed here) in May 2021. First things first, for many if not most people outside of Aberdeen, when you think of the club who ply their trade at the Pittodrie Stadium, you associate the side as playing in all red, as worn by the likes of Willie Miller, Alex McLeish and Gordon Strachan. However, at the turn of the Twentieth Century and up until the Second World War, The Dons wore black and gold strips, hence the name of the magazine.

Content wise there are thirteen articles, which range from more general football content such as book reviews to the Aberdeen focused pieces which look at players (Donald Colman, Alex Jackson and Chic McLelland), seasons (1939/40) and competitions (participation in the Tennents Sixes and UEFA Cup and Cup Winners ties in Belgium), from the past. The magazine though is not solely focused on the past, with articles on the present such as AFC Milestones, which round up statistical details and news in respect of players and games since the last issue, and an interview with Paine Profitt an artist who has provided covers for The Dons matchday programme.

Unquestionably Black & Gold is aimed at Aberdeen fans, but the well written and well researched articles contained within the 44 pages of this glossy and attractively presented magazine will appeal to anyone interested in football history and indeed the social history of the game.

(Publication date: May 2021. 44 pages)


For more information and copies of the magazine:

Website –

Twitter – @AFCHeritage

Magazine Review: Turnstiles (Issue 1/Spring 2021) Editor Chris O’Keeffe

Or to give the magazine its full title, Honest I swear, it’s the turnstiles that make us hostile, which to those who know their Morrissey, is a line from the track, We’ll Let You Know featured on the 1992 album, Your Arsenal. Trafford born Mozza, would no doubt approve of this first edition, dedicated as it is to his county of birth, Lancashire.

Contained within its pages are articles which cover various clubs from the Red Rose county, including, Blackburn Rovers, Blackpool, Bury FC/Bury AFC, Colne Dynamoes/Colne FC and Darwen FC/AFC Darwen, as well as other with pieces with links to Accrington and Preston, with an international flavour added by some eye-opening musings on attending football in Argentina.

The magazine is the creation and idea of Chris O’Keeffe, who wanted to combine the feel and writing of what he read in his childhood, such as Shoot and Match, with his reading of today from publications like, Stand and Diego. And this first issue certainly hits the brief, with its fun element from the freebies with the magazine (including a Turnstile branded sticker, football related postcard and Merlin trading card – which for FBR featured Dean Holdsworth in his Wimbledon FC days) and features such as Spot the Ball, and 11 of the Best, with even a couple of player posters thrown in good measure. These sit alongside serious and interesting articles, such as that about Creative Football which seeks to help a range of people and their issues through football. Combined with the fun and serious elements, it also has a matchday programme feel, with a Starting Line-up (detailing the index of articles), and Notes from the Gaffer (an introduction from editor Chris O’Keefe).

At a time when we are all missing the ability to physically get to games, this is a cracking reminder of what we love and miss about football. Many of the articles seem to reflect the recent times we have experienced, with the despair of lockdown, replaced by hope that with the vaccine roll-out, by summer some sort of normality will return. This seems especially reflected in the articles about Bury FC/Bury AFC, Colne Dynamoes/Colne FC and Darwen FC/AFC Darwen, where clubs for differing reasons have been lost, only to rise in a new form once again. What is also evident, is that this a magazine which talks of the passion of the game below the Premier League, and as the Blackpool articles illustrates, whilst their season in the top-flight was one to remember, its legacy was a damaging one which nearly destroyed their club, leaving many fans in no hurry to return the top division.

Issue 1 has been hugely popular and is great start for this new magazine. If you can’t get a copy, make sure you don’t miss Issue 2.

(Publication date: Spring 2021. 56 pages)


For more information and copies of the magazine:

Email –

Twitter – @Turnstilesmag

Magazine/Fanzine Review – Are You The Clown?

(C) Atherton Collieries

Atherton Collieries are a non-league club based in the town of Atherton, surrounded by Bolton to the North East, Leigh to the South West, Manchester to the South East and Wigan to the West. As the club badge proudly shows, the football team was founded in 1916 from it mining roots. The Colls played in various Lancashire leagues during their history and were founder members of the North West Counties Football League in 1982. In 2016/17 Atherton gained promotion to the Northern Premier League (NPL) and in their first season caused an upset by winning the League Cup beating Coalville Town 2-1 in the Final. Building on that The Colls then won the NPL Division One West in 2018/19 to achieve their highest position in the Football Pyramid (level seven, taking the Premier League as level one). As we now know the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons were declared ‘null and void’ with all club results expunged.

(C) Atherton Collieries

With the prospect of no football until the 2021/22 season, clubs have been creative in getting revenue into their coffers and maintaining connection with their fans and sponsors. In the case of The Colls, this has taken the form of a magazine produced by their matchday programme team and curiously title, “Are You The Clown?”.

This first issue is an informal look through the club archives, with interviews, photographs and stories from throughout their 105 year history. Contained within its glossy colour 36 pages are an explanation as to the title of the magazine and some articles that will appeal to both Atherton fans and football fans of all persuasions alike. These include an exclusive interview with former Colls, Manchester United and Bournemouth player, Russell Beardsmore, and an interesting piece from Zach Pierce who discusses the differences between the theatres of football and the arts.

The content wonderfully sums up football at non-league level – some history, a volunteers story, an interview with an ex-player who went into the professional game, and pictures and features that connect with its fans community.

Why not help support non-league football during this difficult time and order a copy for £3 plus £1 postage and available via:

Magazine Review: Football Masters (Issue 2) edited by Andrew Palmer

Cover of Issue 2

Andrew Palmer went to his first football match at Cray Wanderers in 1965 aged 6 and saw his first professional match at the Valley, the home of Charlton Athletic, in 1968. After watching live football for over 50 years, he was also involved with football publishing Video/DVD for over 25 years. Palmer is a football man with the games running through his veins.

Having recuperated from a Heart Transplant, his passion for the planets most popular sport drove him to produce this digital magazine, Football Masters, which he hopes his audience will “enjoy, looking back at the time before the Premiership when football seemed to be much closer to the fans.”

With a number of publications on the streets dealing with a retro look at the game, some may question whether there is there room in the market for another. However, where this digital version works over a standard magazine, is that there are links within the stories to videos to bring the articles to life. So, in this edition links take the reader to see players such as Stan Bowles, Pele, Garrincha and Colin Bell in their prime as well as match action from 1969 Fairs Cup winners Newcastle United, the FA Cup winners of 1959, Nottingham Forest and Arsenal in the 1970s.

The content in this reviewed edition (No: 2), comes from a number of prominent bloggers and journalists with fifteen articles spread over its 52 pages. The highlights as a reader in this copy were the articles on Pele’s time in the USA, the Colin Bell feature and the guide to Football Magazines.

As with any magazine of this type, not all the articles hit the mark, but for those who want a reminder of the game before sponsored shirts, a time when live games didn’t fill every minute of your waking day and players would be seen down the local pub with fans, this will appeal.

If there is a negative, then it would be in relation to the proofreading of the content, which if more thorough, would have made for a tighter and cleaner read.

A free subscription can be obtained from the following site: www,

Magazine Review: The Bootiful Game (Issue 2)

The Bootiful Game is a magazine dedicated to the Northern Counties East League (NCEL). The league was founded in 1982 with the merger of what were the Yorkshire League and Midland League. There are currently 44 teams within the NCEL split over two divisions, the Premier Division and Division One. These divisions are at the ninth and tenth levels of the football pyramid respectively (and step five and six within the non-league structure).

This particular issue contains 80 pages and is a mix of feature pieces, club related articles, match reports, a results service as well as a club directory. Amongst the highlights of this particular edition is the well-researched article on the record of NCEL clubs (past and present) in the FA Cup, an interview with Norman Whiteside, a history of Clipstone FC and the photographs of ‘The Saturday Boy’.

Overall this is a well-constructed publication, with well written articles and plenty of colour photographic content and a credit to the positive promotion of the NCEL. Given that the magazine is dedicated to a particular league, it is no surprise that the content is focused on the member clubs of the NCEL. However, that should not put off anybody interested in football at whatever level from purchasing The Bootiful Game.

The magazine can be bought from member clubs of the NCEL and

You can also follow on Twitter: @TheBootifulGame

Magazine Review: Soccer History (Autumn 2016 – Issue No: 39)

In an age when Sky would have football fans believe that the game only existed with the inception in the 1992/93 season of the Premier League, it is a relief to come across a publication that redresses the balance and which looks at the game and its history from its origins in the Victorian era up to the 1980s.

The magazine first appeared in 2002 with a focus as editor Ian Nannestad states that looks at, “the professional game in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, although…also features articles on amateur football and the history of the game in other countries…mostly based on new and original research.”

Contained within this edition are articles about, amongst other things, Women’s football in Scotland in World War One, Upton FC – Great Britain’s first Soccer Olympians and Edinburgh’s Marine Gardens ground. The articles are supplemented by an editorial, which in this edition was an excellent piece titled, Why football needs to be more serious about its history, book reviews and an obituaries section.

Given the nature of the content, there is no doubt that this is not a fluffy, glitzy publication for those who want colour images and soundbites about the Premier League and its ‘stars’. Instead this is a well-researched and written magazine which brings to life stories of the game previously lost in the annals of time. Yes, Soccer History is a serious read, but is not without its lighter side, as the article on a fan’s memories of watching England abroad in the 1960s demonstrates.

If you want to read something that is an antithesis to the banal banter of Sky and the Premier League then this is the publication for you.

The magazine sells at £5 for individual copies through the website ( or from eBay. A subscription is available, of £16.50 for four issues. Please note, these are UK prices and International prices are detailed on the website.

Magazine Review: Cornish Soccer (May 2016)

There may not be a professional football club in Cornwall – the nearest teams in the Football League are Plymouth Argyle and Exeter City, both in Devon – but the game is very much alive in the South West peninsula county. Helping promote the football landscape in the area is, Cornish Soccer: The voice of football in the Duchy, a twenty-eight page glossy magazine (priced £2, plus postage).

The May 2016 edition focuses on the end of season for the clubs and leagues within the area and so features final tables and a summary of 2015/16 for the various Cornish teams. Amongst the content is a two-page spread on Truro City (the highest placed Cornish club in the football pyramid), who reached the National League South Semi-Final Play-off, but who exited to Play-off winners Maidstone United. This is followed by a look at local leagues, including, the South West Peninsula Premier League and its feeders, Division One East and Division One West, East Cornwall Premier League, Combination League, The Duchy League and The Trelawny League. In addition there is an extensive detailing of the various Cup competitions, including the rather interestingly named, Walter C. Parson Funeral Directors League Cup.

However, to classify this magazine as just a results summary would be unfair, as their is plenty of other content including a player profile, a feature on the Truro City v Maidstone United Play-off Semi-Final 1st Leg game as well as an update from the Cornwall FA, all supported with a number of coloured images. All-in-all a quality publication

The compilation of all this material is quite an achievement and is a must for anybody interested in the football scene in the Duchy of Cornwall.

Further details about the magazine and football in the county can be obtained at the following website:

Review: The Blizzard – The Football Quarterly (Issue Six)

blizzard_6“…The Blizzard was born in Sunderland in March 2010…”, so pronounces Jonathan Wilson in the Editor’s Note from Issue Six of this Quarterly football publication. So as this fledgling journal approaches its third birthday, there were a number of questions that sprung to mind as I set about this review. What was the reasoning behind the creation of The Blizzard? How did it get its title? And finally, is there room in the market for more football writing?

The answer to the first two of these questions were found on The Blizzard website, where Editor, Jonathan Wilson states his belief in founding the publication was “…that there should be more space for more in-depth pieces, for detailed reportage, history and analysis…” in the football market. Adding that in format it is, “…neither magazine nor book…” and where,“…eclecticism is the key…” In terms of the title, The Blizzard, is “…named after the short-lived and eccentric, but rather brilliant, Sunderland newspaper launched as ‘the organ of Mr Sidney Duncan’ in 1893”

So what of the content? In this particular issue (of just under 200 pages) there are ten headings, which include; Portugal, Interview, Euro 2012, Theory, Photo Essay, The Lost, Polemics, Fiction, Greatest Games and Eight Balls. Some of these headings relate to single articles, such as Interview, Photo Essay, Fiction, Greatest Games and Eight Balls, whilst the remainder contain a number of pieces from a range of writers. So for instance under the heading Portugal, there are pieces penned by Ben Shave, Luis Catarino, Andy Brassell and Vitor Sobral. Indeed one of the many strengths of The Blizzard is the eminence of the contributors who are recognised football writers from across the globe, with many names familiar to those who listen to the Football Weekly podcast from The Guardian.

In this Issue I have two favourite articles. The first is from the Editor, Jonathan Wilson which centres on Euro 2012 and the questions the event in Poland and Ukraine raised “…about the nature of fandom and what comprises a tournament…”, with the second from Tom Dart, titled, Location, location, location: Which is more important? How it looks or where a stadium is? Both epitomise the excellent writing within this publication and provided me with plenty of food for thought on a number of levels.

Given the standard of The Blizzard it may seem churlish to be critical of it. However, there were a couple of minor things for me. Firstly, within the Photo Essay I would have liked to have had captions for each picture (although I recognise some may argue that the pictures speak for themselves) and I would also have liked to see the pictures sat against a white background rather than the black, which for me took away some of the vibrancy of the images. The second point relates to the Eight Balls piece. Whilst the various balls are well described by Sheridan Bird, I believe the article would have been enhanced by images of the various spheres in question. But as I say these are indeed slight points.

In closing and returning to my final question about “…whether there is room in the market for more football writing…”, I have to conclude that The Blizzard is ‘grown-up’ football writing, with articles and features that are articulate and thought-provoking. These are pieces that span the globe, talk about the game in the past, now and in the future, and integrate with various topics including politics and social history, but without being pretentious. There is no doubt a place for such classy writing. Make it a New Year’s resolution to sample a copy of The Blizzard.

Details about The Blizzard and how to obtain copies can be found on their website