Dave Wallace was one of the pioneers of the football fanzine culture that swept the country in the 1980s and finally gave supporters a voice. From knocking out the first issue on a typewriter borrowed from work to being appointed Fan on the Board during Francis Lee’s chairmanship he has been a prominent figure in the recent history of Manchester City, campaigning and celebrating in equal moderation through the bad times and good. After nearly a quarter of a century of existence King of the Kippax remains one of the very best ‘zines around, maintaining a high-standard of passionate and funny writing that very few others can match. Andy Robinson went to meet the man who has stood outside more grounds on a freezing winter’s day than Eamonn Holmes has had hot dinners.
by Andy Robinson
Despite the best efforts of this magazine a few weeks ago with the excellent “1980’s Daisy Cutter specials” the truth is that the 1980s were not a great time to be a Football supporter. It was the time of hooliganism, fenced in fans and tragedy. Dave Wallace, editor of Manchester City Fanzine “King of the Kippax”, takes up the story.
“These were bad times for fans. They were not represented by either the media or the clubs. The Government had proposed ID cards, Ken Bates wanted to electrify his fence and Bernard Halford called for bringing back the birch. The fans needed a voice. I became involved in the newly formed Football Supporters Association and I was also a regular letter writer to the papers and the club. It was a time in which you couldn’t even mention being a football fan if you went for a job interview but it wasn’t a true reflection. Most fans were knowledgeable, witty, passionate and certainly more articulate and deserved better than what was on offer in the official club programme or the newspapers. Following encouragement from friends I decided to start the Fanzine. Twenty three years later KOTK is still here with us.”
During my meeting with Dave I asked him how much of his time is spent on City related matters and the fanzine and wasn’t surprised when he told me that he reckoned on somewhere between 50 and 60 hours per week. In the week I met him he had spoken with the “Beeb” and held his own interview with former City Director and legendary player Dennis Tueart. As well as writing his blog for the KOTK on line version, reviewing the articles, getting the copy ready for the printers, visiting numerous fan clubs, meeting people like me and the small matter of standing in all weathers selling the magazine outside the stadium it leaves little for anything else but it was obvious that it’s a labour of love and a worthy use of his time and his energy. It’s this which attracted me to him; I love and admire people who do things for others.
“The first thing I ever had published was in KOTK and he was very supportive” so says the editor of the “Cutter”.
The key question I had wanted to ask him – did he regard the fanzine as a service or entertainment? – was answered without hesitation: it’s a service. All that fun I have reading it and all the people it’s inspired and provided a forum for to develop their writing talent such as City author Gary James, and leading BBC Sports Editor Richard Burgess is apparently a bonus. “The first thing I ever had published was in KOTK and he was very supportive” so says the editor of the “Cutter”.
Recently Dave has finished his second book on City “Us Against Them”. This gives a full account of all City games against all possible opponents and started off with Dave jotting down first scores he could remember in a small notebook and went from there with research both at the club itself aided by City historian Bill Miles and then further research at the Central Library with old copies of the “Pink” and the “MEN”. This is all complemented with stories of fans who attended the games and sometimes a match report. “The writing was so much more eloquent and passionate in those days than what the Journalists dish up now and it’s what we look for in the Fanzine” he remarked.
Early on in the meeting I mentioned that I wanted the “angle of the interview” to be more about Dave as City fan and not as Fanzine Editor or as the “go to” guy for the media in all matters City related. Therefore what was Dave thinking with a couple of minutes to go in the Cup Final? It was the same as me – the game was over and Stoke weren’t going to score.
Was there any period in your life when attending City games was difficult? – answered again the same as me in his twenties, living in Yorkshire with a small, young family and job commitments and time constraints. The only way we differed in our fan behavior is that Dave likes to have a sing-a-long at the game where as I am uncharacteristically quiet for an attention seeker; and I have never broken down on the “Woodhead pass” and had to spend the night in the Crew room at Glossop police station after watching a game.
Since the birth of the fanzine many changes have taken place in the commentary of the national game.
We also decided early doors to miss out the turbulent times our Club has endured in recent years but as the conversation developed we didn’t talk about the merits of David Silva or Mario Balotelli either but drifted back a few years to ponder on why Alan Kernaghan, Ged Brannen and Craig Russell had been decent at their previous clubs but couldn’t do a thing right at Maine Road. This must confirm that the only thing typical about City these days is the masochistic, scarred memories of the middle-aged fan.
Since the birth of the fanzine many changes have taken place in the commentary of the national game. There is now the accessibility of the player on “Twitter”, the fans’ forums, the blogs etc but the advantage of the fanzine will always remain in that it must be a considered and articulate view. The writer of the piece or article or letter must put thought into what he contributes otherwise it just might not make the cut and therefore the quality can never be watered down. The readership and the number of contributions remain as strong as ever and that’s why the best of the Fanzines such as Stoke City’s “Oatcake” and the wonderfully titled “My eyes have seen the glory” from Spurs remain.
The football supporter has come a long way since the early days of the fanzines. Initially they had a punkish DIY culture but this soon developed into a professional outlook which sparked a powering force of mobilization and encouraged us to become active and has had many a success. If it hadn’t of been for the fanzines would Charlton Athletic still be able to play at “The Valley”. Would you and your son be watching West Brom V Fulham Park Rangers on Sky next week? That’s what the boards of the clubs wanted until the fans put a stop to it. As recently as last week Wolves Fans began a new campaign to look at the pricing of matches for the games. How much of this could have happened if it were not for the fanzines providing us with a voice?
It was nice to meet an original pioneer of this piece of football’s recent heritage. It was even better to meet a nice bloke and just talk about City and football in general.