PANENKA MEETS: SHANTA RONALDO

We met Shanta Ronaldo. It was interesting to say the least.

Words by Danny Brown

You may have heard of Shanta Ronaldo. The young Danish footballer became a social media celebrity a few years ago thanks to his remarkable likeness to global superstar Christiano Ronaldo. But what became of Ronaldo’s biggest fan? We decided to find out.

At some point in most young football fans lives, they’ve pretended to be Christiano Ronaldo, even for a few seconds. Find me someone who hasn’t struck that signature wide-legged pose down the park before smashing an imaginary free kick straight into the top bins. Well, Shanta Ronaldo has taken that fantasy and gone a step further.

At first glance you might be forgiven for thinking Shanta Ronaldo is the real deal. The 20-year-old (real name Shanta Kordbatchje) has adopted everything from his idols surname, hairstyle and even his iconic #7 shirt number. The effect is interesting to say the least.

Nicknamed the ‘Iranian Ronaldo’, the young footballer has a social media following just shy of 40,000 people and takes inspiration from his role model in pretty much everything he does, down to the way he acts and even the clothes he wears. But when did this unique obsession first begin?

“Being a Real Madrid fan, I discovered Christiano back in 2009 and I instantly saw that he was special. People today admire players for having great technique etc. but the reason why Christiano is my idol is his mentality. He can play in a game for 89 minutes and do nothing but then, all of a sudden, he’ll score.

That’s what I admire about him. His mentality is something I’ve learned a lot from. The way he acts and works hard is important – with the right mentality you can always take steps forward. His goals and stats speak for themselves. He’s an example for everyone.”

Following in the footsteps of Ronaldo, Shanta has begun carving out a footballing career for himself and currently plays for Odense Boldklub, a club in Denmark’s Superliga. Admittedly, not quite at the level of his role model just yet – but Shanta’s got big plans and even hopes to one day play against his Ronaldo himself for Iran at the 2022 World Cup.

I started playing football here at Odense Boldklub when I was six years old. Football has always played a huge role in my life ever since I was I kid. My parents always supported me from the start and they still do right now – my dad actually played at high level back in Iran. I was born here Denmark, and that’s where my footballing career started.

View this post on Instagram

Keep your head up and believe⚽️ #nevergiveup

A post shared by Shanta Ronaldo (@shantaronaldo) on

I’m 20 years old and my goal is currently to develop as a player and one day play outside of Denmark. A few months ago, I had trials with LA Galaxy and in a short time I’m going to Spain to train with a team in the Segunda Division there. My dream is to represent the Iranian National Team for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. There are good things on the way. I’m confident.”

Shanta could hardly call himself Ronaldo’s biggest fan without having met the man himself, and he’s done that (just a few times). When Ronaldo was at Madrid, Shanta became known for waiting hours outside the club’s training ground in Spain to meet his hero and has met CR7 on at least a dozen occasions. But how does he feel about Ronaldo’s move to Italy to play for Juventus last summer?

“Yes, I’ve met him many times. He’s a great person. We spoke a lot and he wished me good luck for everything. He knows they call me the Iranian Cristiano Ronaldo! Sometimes in life, the unexpected things happen but in a positive way. I think it was the correct time for him to leave. As he always does, he scores goal after goal and he does the speaking on the pitch.”

While Shanta’s unmistakable similarity to Ronaldo has gained him a lot of popularity, it’s also caused him to get a bit of stick over the years. One newspaper claimed that Shanta had legally changed his surname to Ronaldo plus spent thousands of pounds on plastic surgery to look like his idol, but Shanta says these stories are rubbish and his looks are simply a coincidence.

“Haha! Please do not believe those fake stories. Are they still alive? Haha. Of course. The reason why I called my social media accounts ShantaRonaldo is because of the fame I got from that name. Looking like Cristiano? I think it’s more in a natural way. I just focus on my game and life. Then people can say whatever they want. I don’t want to look like Christiano. What what I want is to reach my goals and to get inspired by the best.”

Haters? They make him, and me, stronger. It’s part of my life now, I just have to keep going.”

View this post on Instagram

Actions lasts longer than words😉🤫😜

A post shared by Shanta Ronaldo (@shantaronaldo) on

So what is on the horizon for Shanta Ronaldo? While the 20-year-old has big dreams on the football pitch, he also sees a future for himself off it and has begun coaching young kids in Demark with the hope of launching a career in coaching to run alongside his playing career. His favourite coach is Jose Mourinho (which must be something to do with Portuguese people).

I have always wanted to develop my coaching career too as I have always and still admire tactics, coaching stuff and the mental part of the football game. My favourite coach is José Mourinho and I try to learn from him a lot, for me he is the best! The reason is simple, he knows what he is doing and have the right mentality.

For me it’s a pleasure to coach kids and to learn from my experiences. And of course, it is really a pleasure when the kids admire they have a football player as a coach. My goal is to become a better coach everyday. Let’s see what happens in the future!”

Whatever people say about Shanta, from speaking him it’s clear he’s a lovely bloke with big ambitions and we’ve got absolutely no doubt he’ll go far doing what he loves – Ronaldo or not. Keep doing you Shanta.

In the meantime, we seriously suggest you go and follow Shanta on Instagram and Twitter at @ShantaRonaldo.

ONCE IN, NEVER OUT – BOLTON WANDERERS

Words By Neil Boardman

About five minutes in a car. Forty minutes (ish) on foot. And too long by train. That’s how far I grew up from the home of Bolton Wanderers – the, as it’s currently known, University of Bolton stadium.

Considering the ground is, by road, about 3 miles away from mine, you’d think the train wouldn’t actually take that long but you’re looking at, including the wait in town, about an hour. The reason behind going on about all this is because the older generation of people round these parts, will try and claim that the day Bolton moved away from their spiritual home of Burnden Park to the Reebok (that’s what it’s called, don’t debate it), was the day the club lost its soul.

Burnden Park was located in the centre of town. An appropriate place for such a ground to be located as it wasn’t only defined as the centre of a town geographically, but also spiritually. Bolton Wanderers Football Club is the heart of a town. The heart of a town that isn’t the home of riches or strong government investment. Bolton is a town that has had it’s strong heart broken time and time again; it’s not the nicest place nor is it my favourite place in the world but it is the home of good people, friends, family.

For years, living in Bolton, there wasn’t much to look forward to, nothing much at all for the average, working class family. Apart from Saturday afternoon at 3pm. Although I don’t have any memories of Burnden Park, I have been told stories of the days, there, by countless fans. The town being a sea of white shirts from early morning to late at night, with ninety minutes being taken out of the day to witness a John McGinlay masterclass.

This was the soul of one of the Football League’s founders. The 4 times FA cup winners. However, despite what some might say, this soul did not rest in peace at Burnden Park. In fact, the Bolton Wanderers that this town loves carried on for so many years. This was a club that held its own against the European big boys, pulling top notch results off against Bayern Munich, Athletico Madrid and Red Star Belgrade. The club was the home of some footballing icons. Anelka. Djorakeff. Campo. Hierro. And, of course, the man so good they named him twice – Jay-Jay Okocha.

The days at the Reebok, with Big Sam and Little Sam is the Bolton Wanderers that I and many others will remember. This wasn’t a team without a soul, this was a team that young kids in the town believed were the best in the world. And isn’t that what football is all about? A bit of optimism? A bit of belief?

It pains me to say, but the Bolton Wanderers that so many of us grew up with no longer exists. This is a club where the supporters think relegation is the best option, some are convinced the club should pack up and start again – this is a club that has had its soul ripped to shreds. It wasn’t the move from Burnden Park, Sam Allardyce leaving or, even, relegation from the Premier League – it was money.

As great as some elements of the modern game are, and as much as I hate to moan, Bolton Wanderers are a victim of modern football. Debts and unpaid wages are two elements of business that circle the ‘UNIBOL’ (awful that, init) everyday, the statue of Sir Nat Lofthouse being the club’s guard from the vultures of the footballing world. Corrupt guidance from the crooks that call themselves the Anderson’s have ripped the beating heart straight from the chest of this town.

It’s mad, isn’t it? How the dark arts-esque actions of football’s money men can change the lives of the people that make the sport – the fans. Within ten years the devils of the football world can turn Nicolas Anelka into Chinedu Obasi. It is time for the footballing gods to sort this mess out and restore the heart and soul of one of football’s most historic clubs.

ONCE IN, NEVER OUT. ANDERSON OUT.

THE PLAYERS THAT MADE US FALL IN LOVE WITH FOOTBALL – *CONTRIBUTORS NEEDED*

Alright? How’s everyone doing?

Just a quick one, is this, but we would like to tell you all about a new little series we are starting.

The series is going to be all about the players that made us fall in love with football. Whether it’s a former Ballon D’or winner or a lower league journeyman, we all have a player that springs to mind when we are asked, why do you love this game so much?

We are hoping to make this into a really interesting little series, so we were thinking – why not get as many people as possible involved? So that’s what we are doing! We want to hear from you on the player(s) that made you fall in love with the beautiful game – so if you would like to be a part of this new series, please send your words (we are looking for 500ish – but that’s, certainly, not a set rule) to this email: editor@paneknamag.com or if you have any further questions don’t hesitate to contact us via email or social media!

Cheers.

THIS IS NOT BARCELONA – THIS IS SANT ANDREU

Words by Dominic McCearney

There are a multitude of things to consider and plan for when moving to a different country; employment, where to live, learning the language and most importantly, which football team to support.

When I decided to move to Catalunya from Scotland, after accepting a job offer in 2018, I barely spoke a word of Spanish – never mind Catalan. It probably says a lot about myself that choosing a team took place before I could even string a sentence together. Supporting Barcelona, or even Espanyol, seemed too easy, so I started doing some research on teams in the lower Segunda and Tercera Divisions. My plan was to go to the matches of a few local teams and see which one felt like the best fit.

I first came across Unio Esportiva Sant Andreu when their ultras visited Celtic Park for the Glasgow Derby in September earlier that year, and after attending my first UESA match, I became completely besotted with the club. Simply known as Sant Andreu, the club was founded in June 1909 under the name Club Z, later being renamed Andreunenc Football Club. By a weird quirk of fate, El Campo de las Medicinas, the stadium where the club formerly played their home games, was on Carrer d’Escocia, which translated into English means ‘Scotland Street’.

The Andreuenc won their first match in this guise 2-0 in the Copa Cataluña Junior wearing striking yellow and red vertical stripes, akin to Les Quattre Barres, the famous flag of Catalunya. In 1925, following a merger between two local clubs, they became Unio Esportiva Sant Andreu. The club now plays it’s home games at the Estadio Narcis Sala, holding just over 6500 people.

The club have enjoyed a relatively modest history, their most successful period coming in the 1970s and 80s when a feeder club agreement with RCD Espanyol saw the arrival of a new coach and a dozen Espanyol players. As a result, the team coasted through the Tercera Division and remained in the Segunda Division for 8 years, reaching the semi final of the Copa Del Rey in 1971 and the quarter finals in ’72, ’73 and ’74.

However the last few decades have been wracked with uncertainty, due to multiple owners and financial troubles. UESA are now languishing in the Tercera Division B, the fourth-tier of Spanish Football, and a division which is notoriously difficult to escape from. Despite this relative fall from grace, the Sant Andreu fans are still as fucking loco as ever when it comes to supporting their team.

My first experience of the Estadio Narcis Sala was for Sant Andreu’s Wednesday night cup fixture against CD Calahorra in the third round of the Copa Del Rey. Making the the 25-minute metro journey from Plaça Cataluyna, in the heart of Barcelona, to Onze de Septembre Station, less than 300 yards from the Estadio Narcis Sala’s ticket office. There I was informed there was no charge for entrance to the stadium’s Gol Nord section, the stand inhabited by UESA’s rowdy ultras, Desperdicis.

When I took my place in the Gol Nord, 15 minutes before kick off, the ultras were already in full voice with chants of Dale UESA” ringing out all around the 6500 capacity stadium. Everywhere you looked there were yellow or red flags, some emblazoned with the iconic Antifa motif. And scarves emblazoned with the words “This is not Barcelona. This is Sant Andreu”.

The slogan is a reference to the fact that, prior to the construction of the Eixample district and the subsequent expansion of the city of Barcelona in the 19th and early 20th century, Sant Andreu de Palomar was once a town in its own right.

Desperdicis appear to have an extremely good relationship with the club itself, with Entradas del Gol Nord being significantly cheaper than general price trickets. A season ticket in this section costs a measly 30 euros, which to put that into context, is the same price as entry and two drinks at Razzaamatazz, one of Barcelona’s most famous nightclubs.

Nine tines out of ten, the club actually negotiates a deal for away games where UESA season ticket holders pay a discounted price to gain entry to the home team’s stadium. However, when such a deal is not in place, such is their dedication to the team, they refuse to enter the stadium, instead watching the game from outside. I was told by a member of Desperdicis that this happened in the 2017/2018 season for an away game against Cerdanyola FC. The travelling away support made clever use of some crates found nearby, peering over an 8-foot concrete wall to watch their team romp to a 4-1 victory – they are dedicated, but mad, bastards!

There was an image in my head when I thought of football ultras and what they looked like, but this was completely shat on by Desperdicis. Think less Stone Island jackets and Adidas trainers and more Doc Martens, shaved heads and tattoos. Almost punk-rock. Not surprising when you find out they take their name from 80s Catalan punk band, Desperdicis Clinics.

The game itself was a tense affair, with both sides threatening to break the deadlock on several occasions. It was the home side that finally managed to make the breakthrough in the 95th minute of extra time, speedy number 9, Kuku, running through onto a dainty flick-on from Oscar Muñoz to calmly slot the ball past the goalkeeper, sending the Estadio Narcis Sala wild. Flares were lit and the noise was amplified as UESA held on for a 1-0 win.

Drawn against Madrid giants Atleti in the fourth round, St Andreu slumped to an unsurprising 5-0 aggregate defeat. But it was the UESA fans that made headlines, displaying the logo of Proactiva Open Arms, an organisation who’s mission is to “rescue from the sea those people who try to reach Europe fleeing from war, persecution or poverty.” Oscar Campos, the organisations founder, later said the “generosity of Sant Andreu in showing our logo in their most important game was priceless.”

Sant Andreu share a fierce rivaly with CE Europa, hailing from the city’s Gràcia district. In promotional material for the derbies, both clubs bill it as “the authentic derby” in reference to the high number of tourists that frequent the Camp Nou for El Clásico and El Derbi Barceloni.

I’ve never seen armed police at any football match back in Scotland, never mind a game in the fourth tier. But there we big meathead vans patrolling along side El Mossos d’Esquadra (the Catalan Police). I received a more-than-enthusiastic pat down on my way through the turnstiles, the first time I’d been to a UESA match where the sale of alcohol was prohibited (not that that stopped the away support from smuggling their cans of Estrella into the ground).

Sant Andreu took an early lead and the away supported exploded. Limbs everywhere. So much so that a club official from Europa, an elderly man donning a club blazer, stopped the match and had to walk over to the away end to tell the travelling support to calm down. My Catalan is terrible but in a derby as fierce and as volatile as this, I can only imagine what sheer vitriol was sent his way from the UESA fans.

The game eventually ended 1-1, with Europa equalising in the second half and Sant Andreu finishing the match with 10 men after a straight red card for midfielder David Lopez. Interestingly, this was the fifth match in a row between the teams to end as a draw. All in all a frustrating night.

After an indifferent start to the season, Sant Andreu were sitting in 11th position in the table. However, at the time of writing, a 10 match unbeaten run has rocketed the boys up to 5th in the league – within 5 points of the playoff places. The storm of a run has included highlights such as an injury time winner away at, then leaders, Llagostera. There’s a feeling around the place at the moment, that San Andreu can beat anyone, do anything and, god, I hope this carries on.

But no matter what happens in the rest of the season, the club did themselves proud in the Copa Del Ray and have the final of the Copa Catalunya to look forward to (having dispatched three higher-division teams already). I like to think of myself as a good luck charm – I’m yet to see the team lose.

When people from back home ask me “Are UESA any good?” I tell them they’re the best team in town. “What about Barça?” they say.

I reply “Sant Andreu is not Barcelona.”

WHY DOES EVERYBODY HATE NEIL LENNON?

Words by Neil Boardman

Everyone absolutely hates Neil Lennon, don’t they? He’s a little bastard, he’s cocky and he will tell anyone, and everyone, exactly what he thinks about them. But that is the exact reason why I am a Neil Lennon fan.

As much as we all love seeing Lionel Messi pull off the unthinkable, a fluid counter attack ending in a wonderful, composed finish and the next international star rising through the ranks of Jong Ajax. There is a different side to our love of the beautiful game. We all love a little bit of shithousery. And, as much as you don’t want to admit it, no one quite does it like Neil Lennon.

No matter where Lennon is basing himself, at that moment, he can’t help himself. He has to cause a stir. To be honest, if you want to criticise this piece i will do it for you, it’s not always good. Personal issues have affected Lennon’s career from the offset and allegations of misconduct have followed him wherever he goes.

Despite this, there is still a hole, to be filled, when it comes to celebrating Neil Lennon. More or less every media outlet around has published some kind of story condemning Lennon on his behaviour; yet, celebrations of Lennon are hard to come across. In order to take Lennon for what he is, you have to understand him beyond what the Sun or Daily Mail are portraying him as.

Lennon recently made his Celtic managerial comeback away at Hearts. An Odsonne Edouard last gasp winner sealed the 2-1 victory for the hoops. In a similar fashion, just a couple of weeks later, the bhoys sealed victory in the dying seconds away at Dundee. Lennon, had his celebrations ridiculed in the media. Touchline celebrations with the fans, gloating in front of the opposition – it is the Neil Lennon way. Yet, I log on to twitter and all that appears on the timeline and the ‘Neil Lennon’ trend is people moaning. Lads with a union jack in their bios, calling him a disgrace.

But why? Why should a manager be slated day after day for his passion in the technical area? It’s not just the shithousery of Neil Lennon that makes me appreciate the guy, I believe that a manager of his manner can be an ingredient for a successful club, in many cases.

The passion showed by Neil Lennon on the side of the pitch can only be compared to the passion that is shown in the stands.

No matter who your club is, or what your sport is – nothing, absolutely nothing, beats that feeling of a last minute winner. You’re watching your club at a meaningless mid table clash at the back end of the season, your position isn’t changing no matter what the outcome is, but then after a long, goalless 89 minutes the ball falls to your man up top. By some miracle, it finds its way into the back of the net. You’re celebrating, aren’t you? You find yourself three rows away from your original seat. You’ve got no idea where your mates are and you’ve just given a 40 year old topless bloke a questionable embrace. Nothing beats it.

Now. Ask yourself. Would you like your manager to have remained in his technical area, same expression, with his notepad in hand? Or, would you like him to be in there with you, top off running down the touchline? If you’re telling the truth, it is the second of the two options.

Neil Lennon is an ambassador of going off the rails in celebration or giving it to his rivals abit too much. But isn’t that one of the things that makes football and sport so great? It is a release. Lennon is unique in the fact that we don’t have many managers in the world like him. I feel more like he is one of us than any other gaffer in the mainstream and, despite his flaws, he deserves a lot more credit for his managerial style, than he gets.

Ahead of this Sunday’s old firm derby, Lennon’s first derby back in the Celtic hot seat, I am not going to sit here and support whatever daft thing he is, inevitably, going to get involved with. However, I know, for a fact, that he will be getting involved in a way that I wish more football managers would. He is a nice change from what has become the norm for a football manager, it’s nice to see (most of the time).

COULD FOOTBALL LEARN FROM RUGBY LEAGUE?

Words by Danny Brown

When you ask most people to think rugby league, they think grim Northern towns, big blokes with anger issues and a weirdly-shaped football being lobbed about a muddy field. And to be fair, they’re not far wrong. Where’s the intricate skill moves, careful possession play and midfield masterfulness seen in The Beautiful Game™?

However, as a football lad who lives with a pair of diehard rugby league fans, you can’t help noticing there’s a couple of things their game actually does pretty well. With that in mind, here’s five things that football could learn from rugby league (based on the opinion of someone who knows f*ck all about it). Enjoy!

SHOT CLOCKS

A simple one to start off with. In rugby league, whenever a team needs to form a scrum or kick a drop out, a big clock in the stadium ticks down from a set time limit. If a team fails to perform the action within time limit, they get penalised. Simple, and means the game gets back underway with minimum fuss.

Where we’d want to see this in football is in that annoying situation when your team is 1-0 down late on and the opposition keeper is doing everything he can to piss away vital seconds at every goal kick. Stick a massive f*ck off clock behind him and see just how quickly the ball gets punted down the other end. Lovely stuff.

TIMED STOPPAGES

Another fairly straightforward one, but one that would solve the age-old mystery of how injury time is actually calculated in football. Seriously, how does four goals, two injuries, a red card, pitch invasion and an earthquake still seem to only chalk up just 3 minutes when the fourth official’s board goes up at the end of the game? It’s barmy.

In rugby, the length of the game tends to be easier to trace. The ball goes out of play, the clock is stopped. When the ball comes back in, the clock starts again. The whistle goes at the end of the match and there’s no need for any mysterious added time. So easy even Danny Murphy could understand it (maybe).

SIN BINS

Just like in football, red and yellow cards are a thing in rugby. Red means you’re off, yellow is a warning, pretty standard. However, there’s one big difference. When shown a yellow card in rugby, a player is also sent to the sin bin meaning they must leave the pitch and watch on for the next 10 minutes.

The main criticism of yellow cards in football would be that they don’t do a right lot. How many times have you seen a midfielder craftily leg up his opponent during a promising break, just to casually shrug off the resulting yellow card. Add a sin bin into the mix and a feisty five minutes could see the most boring of games turned on it’s head, and we’re here for it.

VIDEO REFFING (DONE RIGHT)

Ahh, VAR. That magical thing football fans either love or hate (sometimes both within the same game). It’s fair to say it’s introduction in England has been patchy at best. Rugby’s had a video ref for a while now and they’ve got it it running pretty smoothly. And with a few tweaks, video reffing could be great in the Prem.

For objective decisions (offsides, balls going out of play etc.), VAR should definitely be used. Someone, somewhere, takes a look, tells the ref and he can make the right decision. But subjective calls (penalties, red cards) are just that, subjective. By all means, use VAR to take a look if the ref didn’t see it first time but other than that, leave it. Big fan of the mid-air-rectangle-drawing hand signal though.

MIC’D UP REFS

Now if there’s one thing that should make it’s way over from rugby league to football, it’s this. The A-League decided to mic up one of it’s refs for his last ever game in Australia the other week and it’s fascinating. If you’ve not watched it yet, I seriously suggest you do. However, insight into the referee’s decisions isn’t the sole reason why this would be great.

When you talk Premier League referees, only one man comes to mind. Mr Celebrity Referee himself Mike Dean. As if the over-the-top facial expressions, no-look yellow cards and acrobatic free kick signals he gets up to now aren’t entertainment enough, imagine the David Brent-eque comments that would go along with them. “I’d think of myself as a friend first, ref second. Probably an entertainer third.” Keep doing you Dean-O.

KING OF THE FANZINES – FANZINE CULTURE IN AN INTERNET AGE

Words by Danny Brown

A soggy fanzine seller, groaning under the weight of a huge bag, latest issue clutched in hand, bellowing ‘Get your fanzine, just a quid!’. A sight as common at a football ground as long hair and short shorts were 20 years ago. But sadly (not so much in the case of the shorts), it’s also a sight that’s vanished in today’s game.

Despite this, there’s still a small army of creators spending endless hours each week writing, editing and producing their ‘zines – just to stand in the pissing rain on a matchday, hoping they can flog enough issues to cover the costs. Dave Wallace, founder of King of the Kippax is one of these creators.

A lifelong Man City fan, Wallace was a prominent member of the Football Supporters Association in the eighties and decided to start his own fanzine, in order to give a voice to fellow blues’ supporters. In pretty standard City fashion, the ‘zine was born out of a cock-up on the opening day of the 88/89 season.

“I intended to start King of the Kippax in the summer of 1987, but we were moving house at the time so instead I decided to contribute to the first City fanzine, Blueprint, instead. However, there were some editorial differences and the final straw was when the fanzine missed the start of the 1988/99 season, meaning my perfectly presented article was hacked and chopped.”

Deciding to take matters into his own hands, egged on by his mate Martin Gordon, then editor of Sheffield Wednesday’s ‘Just Another Wednesday’ fanzine, Wallace put together the first issue, printed a few hundred copies and plucked up the courage to sell it on the terraces. On 24th of September 1988, King of the Kippax was sold for the first time, away at Barnsley. City won 2-1.

“When we started the ‘zine we dedicated it to Colin Bell, the real King of the Kippax!”

The inspiration for the name of the ‘zine was Colin Bell, the shining diamond in a dominant City side that hoovered up trophies under Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison in the sixties. Crowned the ‘King of the Kippax’ by the City faithful, Bell’s nickname referenced Maine Roads famous Kippax stand, one of the largest and loudest singing sections in England at the time.

“I’d always written to the papers, won competitions in the programme and together with my wife Sue produced topical cartoons which we sent to local radio presenters and the club which were well received under the pseudonym ‘King of the Kippax’. When we started the ‘zine we dedicated it to Colin Bell, the real king!”

As anyone who followed the sport at the time will know, the eighties was a bad time to be a football fan in England. Marred by a series of tragedies, the rise of hooliganism and the persecution of football fans under the Tory government, it was through this dark period the need for a new method of fan expression was born.

“1985 was a watershed for football, marred by the Bradford Fire, Heysel and the death of a fan at Birmingham when a wall collapsed. In fact, everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Fans didn’t have a voice and the reporting in the media was very fan negative and didn’t reflect the humour and camaraderie of the majority of ordinary match-going fans.”

“Fans didn’t have a voice and the reporting in the media was very fan negative and didn’t reflect the humour and camaraderie of the majority of ordinary match-going fans.”

“At the time hooliganism was rife, policing and stewarding left a lot to be desired and football grounds were antiquated. Away fans were banned at Luton, English teams banned from Europe, Maggie Thatcher wanted ID cards, Ken Bates wanted electric fences at Chelsea and Bernard Halford (City’s club secretary) thought that hooligans should be birched!”

“The total content of a fanzine is provided by ordinary fans who have a passion for our club and understand the match going experience, whereas football journalists, general speaking, usually have to toe the party line, and see things from within their bubble. We wanted to know about the support, the humour, the songs, but journalists only concentrated on the actual match.”

Wallace wasn’t the only one frustrated by the lack of opportunities for ordinary fans to have a voice on the issues of the day. Coinciding with the birth of the FSA, fanzines began springing up on terraces around the country. Around a dozen general fanzines came into existence at this time, plus around fifty club-based ‘zines. These numbers rose into the hundreds at the peak of fanzine culture.

“Most of all we intended to provide a platform for fellow fans to express themselves with humour. And they did.”

Walk into any pub on a match day and you’ll find no shortage of opinionated football fans ready to share their ‘expert’ rantings, opinions, analysis and conspiracies with anyone who’ll listen. In the days before Twitter, it was fanzines that gave the wannabe managers, armchair pundits, and terrace prophets a platform to share their views with fellow supporters.

“Our original intention was to publish regularly, with up to date and balanced views, hitting the major issues, reflecting on events with comment and opinion, supplying information, and most of all providing a platform for fellow fans to express themselves with humour. And they did.”

“Some contributors have stayed with us more or less from the start, others have dropped off and been replaced and we now have sons of contributors joining the gang. We always encourage new writers and are especially pleased when aspiring sports journalists join us then go onto bigger and better things. Our current youngest match reporter is just fifteen.”

“There is some duplication of subject matter, but all with different angles and styles of writing. Fanzines differ from the mainstream as we have license to say things as they really are, or how we perceive them, and we can ridicule our opponents and rivals (within the realms of human decency).”

“We don’t get told to ‘stick it up our arse’ as much when selling after games we’ve lost!”

When it comes to change, City have seen more of it than most, both on and off the pitch. Once a self-professed ‘comedy club’, City fans of a certain age will remember the age of dodgy managerial appointments, relegation, derby defeats and that fateful day when goalkeeper David James got a run-out up front. If they didn’t laugh, they probably would have cried.

Nowadays, the club is more likely to make headlines for winning another trophy than their latest on-pitch calamity. The ‘Typical City’ curse seems to have lifted, but the sense of humour remains an important part of the City psyche. Even in the age of money and trophies, City still find the time to laugh at themselves – and King of the Kippax is perfect evidence of this.

“The main difference for us has been the fact that we can be much more positive, and whereas in 1999 our front cover was an ironic shot of Nicky Weaver holding up ‘a trophy’, we’ve been able to celebrate our recent title and cup successes with joyous front covers. Additionally, we don’t get told to ‘stick it up our arse’ as much when selling after games we’ve lost!

In the early days the running of the club was the major issue, and whilst there are still some gripes, it is the misrepresentation in the media, the bitterness of the established clubs, and the strangeness of UEFA which dominate the pages.”

Nowadays, fanzines hold up in quality even against the glossiest club programmes, but that wasn’t always the case, as Wallace testifies: “Originally articles and letters were handwritten (one was written in crayon on a piece of cardboard from a cornflake box!) and sent to us by post, then typed up by my mother-in-law on a typewriter borrowed from work.

These were then cut and pasted (with actual scissors and glue!) into an A4 format then put onto A3 sheets and hand delivered to the printers. A few days later, the finished zine was delivered, by me, to the outlets around Manchester then sent out to subscribers and sold outside the ground by us and some willing friends at future home and away games.”

“We now receive articles by email; they are checked, corrected, headlined and highlighted with cartoons added. They’re then sent to Graeme, our layout fella, who adds any pictures and puts together the final ‘zine, which we give the last edit. Over the years, we’ve built a network of loyal subscribes worldwide, which continues to amaze us.”

However, while the internet has made the process of writing and editing a fanzine easier, the rise of social media has inevitably caused a decline in readership. In 2019, many of these fanzines have disappeared all together as United’s Red Issue did back in 2015, citing ‘the stench of modern football’ as the reason for doing so.

“Whilst it’s fun interacting with fans, it’s not much fun selling on the street in the wind, rain, hail and snow these days.”

“It’s had a massive effect. Sales peaked in 1991 and since then there’s been a steady decline. With regard to football there is much more instant information on social media, and visually on the vlogs, so that has affected the fanzine which generally reflects and anticipates ‘goings on’ in a more measured way on a roughly monthly basis.”

“We started over thirty years ago, and during that time we’ve established a loyal readership because of the quality of writers and, I think, because we have never missed a deadline and have always strived to print most of the contributions. We’ve lost quite a few sellers recently, and whilst it’s enjoyable interacting with fans, it’s not much fun selling on the street in the wind, rain, hail and snow these days.”

It’s a testament to the graft put in by Wallace and his wife that King of the Kippax is still alive and kicking after thirty (that’s right, thirty) years. With the social media revolution showing no signs of slowing, the future for fanzines looks relatively bleak. But Wallace thinks there may be hope yet, and believes the younger generation might play a big part.

“Though going on-line is probably the future, our regular readers tend to prefer a paper magazine and, as it has been reported recently that people are returning to books in preference to reading on kindle, whilst vinyl records are also making a come back, so maybe the times are a changing and diversifying, but not yet over. Watch this space!”