Fanzines - voice of the ordinary supporter

We highlight Liverpool 'zine 'Through The Wind and Rain' - always a staunch supporter of the HJC and a voice that has kept alive and published articles on Hillsborough throuout the last 12 years. You can read all of their back issue articles about Hillsborough here

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Through the Wind and Rain
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Through the Wind and the Rain Fanzine Archives

Outrage On Tap
(The following article relates to an episode where Liverpool FC were considering suing the Everton fanzine When Skies are Grey…)

There cannot have been a stranger sequence of events than those involving Liverpool Football Club and the Everton fanzine When Skies are grey. It all turned out all right in the end but it still left a sour taste in the mouth and raised questions about the clubs and the fanzines.

It all started on a Thursday. My TTWAR sheets were at the printers and I was just waiting for the mags to return. Billy Merritt called me and said, "Get the Echo the Blues are being sued". It was a side column on the front page; "reds may sue over soccer fanzine". An accusation from WSAG was that the proposed Hillsborough emblem on next years shirt was "cashing in" on the disaster had got the club in a right flap.

I have to admit that far from worrying for the Blues, my first thought was for self-preservation; what have I written? I dug out a copy of the editorial and went through it line by line. "Proposed memorial emblem"(oh no) "done to reduce criticism"(oh Christ!) "However, the club wanted to do this years ago". Oh thank you god, thank you. I'm o.k, I'm ok

And then I realised what I was doing. Here I am a fanzine editor with a mag that sells a few thousand every 3 months, worrying if my own club would sue me. I stopped worrying and got angry. I checked my copy of WSAG;I confess that the offending article had not made much impression on me first time round. Read a second time, I could see the problem. Any fanzine has to be careful when discussing such issues but it had gone in all guns blazing. At a time when the Tony Bland story was bringing memories of 89 flooding back. It was not diplomatic to say the least. It didn't surprise me that Liverpool FC would get upset about it, but even so-Legal action?! Surely this was going over the top?

The story went on for a few days more. The Echo reported that the fanzine could go out of business, even though they were prepared to offer a full apology. In the end like most newspaper stories it fizzled out to nothing. The editor met Peter Robinson, sorted it out and in the end a printed apology in the fanzine was enough. That, it appeared, was that.

It presented a lot of unanswered questions, though. Was WSAG completely wrong in what it said? Would they have fought the action if they could afford to? Was Liverpool trying to send a message to its "own" fanzines? Is it going to affect what we write in the future? How did the whole thing appear in the papers? Was it over the top or justified?

I know a number of reds fans-fanzine readers' all-who won't go near WSAG. "Too bitter", "chip on the shoulder". "Petty", just a few of the comments they make. I wouldn't totally disagree to be honest, but if you believe that's what Evertonians are like nowadays, it's hardly a shock to discover the fanzines the same. I'd still prefer to point to the funny writers; the great cartoons and the letters that let Everton Football Club know what's going wrong in no uncertain terms! I read every issue from start to finish and always look forward to the next one. They've had a few digs at me and I've had a few back, but on the whole it's been pretty tame stuff.

When it came to legal action by Liverpool FC, it begged the question; what harm can an Everton fanzine do to Liverpool? I know FA about the law, but I assume the term suing for damages meant some damage had to have been done. As I say they've taken a few knocks at me but they've been absolutely slaughtered "one minute to go". The net result? - Paul and tosh are doing better than ever, they now have more sellers around Anfield and "Another wasted corner goes from strength to strength. SO - if Evertonians can't harm a Liverpool fanzine - what harm can they possibly do to the club itself?

Its clear that the threat of legal action gave the accusation more publicity among Liverpool fans than a club response of "dignified silence". That of course is a theory that assumes Liverpool FC went to the press themselves. In talks with the local FSA, the club said they didn't; they also said there was never a moment where WSAG would have been asked for money. A cynic might paraphrase Mandy Rice Davies here and say - "Well they would say that -Wouldn't they?"-but I'm inclined to believe them. At the very least I'd like to think the club, realising the bad publicity they'd get from wiping out a small local business, took the diplomatic route and settled for a simple apology.

As for the accusation itself, we know what they said was wrong and the fanzine has apologised for it. The families want a memorial emblem on the shirt; the club are more than willing to grant their wish. In fact-it is the club who have been urging the families to address this issue for a number of years. However-I have a confession to make and if it wasn't for what I heard at an FSA meeting last December, what I would have written on the matter would not have differed greatly from the passage that landed WSAG in so much trouble. Does that make me a dangerous lunatic or a monster?

A brief history of events. Various FSA members (a couple were also TTWAR readers) managed to see prototypes of the next Liverpool shirt, as guests of adidas. To a large extent these designs went down badly with the assembled fans. Neither of my informants heard adidas reps mention anything about a special emblem for the 96. Weeks later the Echo breaks the news of the Hillsborough emblem. I thought this was odd, putting it mildly, so I raised the issue with the FSA. One of the bereaved, who works very closely with other families put us straight about the clubs stance over the matter and I was more than happy to put everyone straight in TTWAR 16.

That is still not the end of the matter. I try to keep informed on Liverpool by watching the local TV and reading the local press and listening to the local radio. I don't hear or see everything, that would be impossible, but the local press is usually read thoroughly. I cannot recall Liverpool FC 's desire for a memorial emblem before last winter's announcement. My presence at a meeting they weren't at - this is the slender reason why WSAG said one thing and I said another.

Here lies one of the major problems. Peter Robinson may be quoted as saying "we look at the fanzines as much as the fans do" but I'm not really sure if he understands how they work. We are their to let the fans have their say on the club whether good or bad (usually the latter I must confess) Inevitably this displays what we actually know about the club and what we know stems from two main factors; media coverage and the clubs own PR. I've stated on numerous occasions that I think Liverpool's own PR is nowhere near good enough for a club this big. - (SK)

Letters-issue 17

Thanks for issue 16 and the sub reminder. Please send me another 4 issues of your brilliant, mega, good ace fanzine because I love it so much and.. Do you still want paying for them? Oh Ok fair enough. (Nice try -SK)

I've been reading about a group of people staging a vigil-type protest outside the hospital where Tony Bland is, over the disconnection of his feeding tubes. I can't understand the mentality of these people. Fair enough, everyone is entitled to an opinion but if there was ever an occasion where they needed to be kept to themselves then this is it. Tony and his family must have suffered enough without having such thoughtless people trying to make them feel guilty over such a heartbreaking decision. It can't have been an easy decision to make, but now they have made it-their views must be respected, no matter what your view. They should have been left to grieve for the son they lost almost four years ago. - Karen Bradbury- Preston

I have just heard about the news that the Courts have finally said that Tony Blands feeding machine can be legally "switched off". This is of course a very, very delicate subject and everyone has their views on euthanasia as well. I personally believe that Tony's parents have done the best things for themselves BUT more importantly the best thing for Tony himself. HE and the other 95 are all in our hearts. The flag at the Blackburn game was sound - thanks to the lads that bought it. - Mark Garlock - Formby

I've never written to you before but feel compelled to do so after hearing just now of the death of Tony Bland. Although we all know Tony died on that fateful day in April $ years ago, the news still filled my eyes with tears and bought back many horrific memories for me. At least Tony can rest in peace and Allen and Barbara Bland can begin to grieve for him properly. I felt TTWAR was an appropriate vehicle which myself and other supporters of our beloved team could send our best wishes and deepest sympathies to Tony's family. Though I realise it must be a great relief to them. It still angers me that the authorities are still using Hillsborough as a semi-final venue. How insensitive can the FA be??.

To the 96 who died-we will always remember you and May God bless Tony Bland. - Mathew - Aigburth.

Just a few of the many letters we got which mentioned Tony. Matt also asked for info on Andrew Devine. His family decided to care for him; although he is in the same condition that Tony was. As with the Blands; whatever your views on the matter their wishes must be respected. At Tony's funeral, the club was wall represented by the Chairman, Alan Hansen and Jan Molby - and they deserve thanks (as our representatives) from all supporters.