Pining for paper
Steve and Paul go dewy-eyed for the days of sticking captions on pictures and flogging fanzines on street corners

Anyone happening to bob into the Tap Room of the New Barracks last Thursday evening might have been taken aback by the sight of two men old enough to know better sat at the big table and gurgling like the proverbial drains. And the reason? Because we were reuniting ourselves with the long-gone days of the paper version of War of the Monster Trucks.

Steve and I were very chuffed last week to find we had been selected for the filming of the SWFC150 film. It appears that Matt, the film maker, was inundated by people giving him their tales of Being a Wednesdayite. I had banged off a couple – one about Wednesday beating Forest 3-1 during the Miner’s Strike and one about the various cup finals in the 1990s. After I’d sent them off it dawned on me that I should instead have sent one in about WOTMT. I needn’t have worried though because Mr Walmsley already had.

Steph and Kev at the Barracks were their usual obliging selves and gave over their Tap for the filming and we spent about two and a half hours with Matt and his mate Simon reminiscing about the fanzine and talking about all things Wednesday ancient and modern.

Steve had brought along pretty much every one of the back copies from issue 16 - when the nascent editorial board of Andy Selman, Nick Riley and I took the Trucks over from the mighty Matt Cooper - to issue 40 (we are only missing issue 19 if anyone has one to spare). Now although Andy, Steve and I regularly feed this on-line fanzine, and although there are some highlights from the paper fanzine on this site, most of the contents of the paper mags are safely locked away in our collective subconscious. But while Matt and Simon busied themselves with setting up the lighting and recording gubbins Steve and I started looking through the old issues and more or less straightaway turned into the chuckle brothers.

They say you shouldn’t laugh at your own jokes, and for a lot of them you had to be there, but what transported us to self-satisfied paradise were the captioned pictures. If there’s one thing we all really miss with the on-line Trucks it’s that ability to snip pictures out of the paper, keep them safely stored and then wait for the moment where something happens in Wednesday (or sometimes Blunty) world where you can stick a speech bubble on and lob it into the fanzine. Back in the day, anything with a picture of a pig on it was good for cutting out, but some of the others were more left-field. Example? We found a picture of a bearded man with a huge prize winning vegetable – not sure what but it was large, dark and nobbly. You cut it out and wait for the moment. Wednesday’s start to the next season is atrocious. And then out comes the picture and it’s given the heading “Season so far – beardy man sums it up”. The man has his arm across his huge unnamed veg and is saying “It’s a very large piece of shite”.    

In the social media world the caption thing is pretty much a no-no. You never know who owns the picture or who’s in it. When you were standing on street corners selling paper fanzines you never used to worry about that sort of stuff but nowadays a claim of slander or breach of copyright can be just around the corner.

The other thing now is we don’t seem to have the characters we had back in the day. During the time we were doing the paper fanzine we were blessed to be able to mine the seams of some proper heroes and villains. Step forward Paolo di Canio – if we weren’t having fun with his extravagant sidies we were running our series “It makes-a-me the angry man” where we used the countless pictures of him in animated disagreement with an opponent, but with reasons such as a disagreement about who used to drive Thunderbird Three. Others who featured large (pun probably intended) included Kevin Pressman who despite probably being a couple of stone lighter than yours truly gave us a ton of weight-related comedy (anyone remember the “Pressman back in light training” front cover with the man with half a dozen pork pies saying “see how you get on with these Kevin lad and tomorrow we’ll go for the full dozen”?).

Other favourites included the Gerald Sibon column where we created a whole weird left-field persona for the striker, including saying the word Aardvark in random situations, and of course Dave Allen. A theme running through a number of issues was what happened to people who upset uncle Dave, including someone announcing that the legs on his whippet had got shorter since he had a go at Mr Allen.

But the gift that really kept on giving - and is still giving a fair bit today - was of course Nattering Neil Warnock. It was always a joy to include his regular column which led with his non-stop jealousy of Wednesday and always included plenty of references to Chiropody and fruit and veg shops. Our Neil of course always provided loads of pictures in exasperated poses which just cried out (and got) some proper captions.

As part of the filming Matt asked us if we’d ever think about going back to the paper fanzine. Not something we’d really thought about it but in the giddiness of the moment we did wonder about whether the two of us and Andy could think about giving it a go, even if just as a one-off. It would be good to hear from people whether that might be worth a punt.

As part of our discussions we also spent time working through what used to be a raft of different Wednesday fanzines, from the definitive Just Another Wednesday, through Cheat, A View from the East Bank, Spitting Feathers through to the mighty Boddle which was about as out-there as it was possible to get. They were all a joy and all are very much missed.

So, a proper evening of dewy-eyed reminiscing then, but also worth taking a minute to big up the SWFC150 film. Matt started it under his own steam but now the club seem really engaged. From our conversations with Matt, he really gets that whilst managers and players come and go, the life blood of the club is us – the fans – who are always there no matter how difficult things might get. He also gets that those occasional moments of glory live on in our hearts forever and he’s talking to a lot of people to capture those. It appears it should all be ready for early next season and sure we’ll all be proper excited to see what it looks like.

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