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features, supporters

Popular STAND is 50

The long running Doncaster Rovers supporters’ fanzine Popular STAND has reached it’s fiftieth issue. Formed in 1998 when the club was on it’s knees Popular STAND has survived an incredibly testing time for any fanzine, namely twelve years of steady progress and ultimate success for the club. Its been a challenge but they’ve strived through it. For those who didn’t manage to pick up a copy yesterday, here’s my reflection on time spent serving the ‘zine.

Popular Stand; From Nadir to Here

“Is that a programme mate?” If I had £1 for every time I have heard these words over the years selling the Popular STAND fanzine before matches I’d have earned at least a tenner a game. Not much these days I know but it would at least have lessened the annoyance given that I was most often asked this whilst standing fifteen yards away from a programme seller and having just yelled “Rovers fanzine, still a pound,” repeatedly. I suppose if I was less honest I would have sold another fanzine each time I was asked too. So Popular STAND is 50, an honour in itself, but decidedly more impressive given that it has done so in it’s twelfth year. The rise of the Internet in the same time period has signalled the death of many traditional print fanzines. Why should folk wait for the next copy deadline to have their say when they can log onto a messageboard and spew their reactionary thoughts the moment they get home from the game? There are other factors too; advancement in print and design packages and their availability has seen once carefully photocopied fanzines become glossy unofficial magazines. Many embracing the corporate approach with a zeal that belies their origins.

Fanzines in their raw state are few and far between now, so I am delighted and proud to say that I write for one, particularly one with such s significant base. Popular STAND was born in Rovers annus horiblus of 1998 and with the club not to be trusted and much of the local press towing the party line with infuriating diligence, the fanzine was a vital tool. The Internet then was something available to only the few so if you wanted the thoughts of the fans then the fanzine was where to find it. As with the initial football fanzines of the 1980s Popular STAND was the voice of the unheard.

That’s the thong about fanzines, they are most often formed as a kind of fighting literature, a protest text, with an aim to show the establishment how things really are. Fanzines work best when folk are angry, when there is something to rally against. Obviously in it’s formative years this was the case for Popular STAND, but the  last decade for Rovers fans has been one long dream during which we’ve pinched ourselves so often we look like a support group for chicken pox sufferers. For a fanzine to survive and continue during such a continually positive time is a significant achievement.

I first wrote for Popular STAND a decade ago. A decade is a long time, often as many as ten years. Back then things were much different for me too, I was still at school, and I had a trumpet (for those who’ve always been perplexed by this column’s name). For more than a third of my life I’ve been a fanzine contributor. From school to University to working life I’ve talked Nath [the editor] into deadline extensions.

It’s a mark of the time shift since those early issues that when I first began writing for Popular STAND I had no Internet access and no mobile phone. It was a case of bumping into Nathan at a game to be told of the deadline and then bringing my typed copy along to the next match and submitting it on the terrace at half time. Given that I’ve now been running Viva Rovers for nearly four years it seems incredibly archaic even to me.

The overall tone of the fanzine has changed as writers have come and gone. Jack the Miner’s Diary has been much missed of late, and through an odd twist of fate my favourite fanzine writer from when I first joined Pop Stand now occupies the seat next to me at the Keepmoat. Sadly my attempts to make Matt Clift write again have so far proved unsuccessful. Even at the most serious of times for the club Popular STAND could be relied on for humorous and to a degree childish output; Shamus Anus, Colin’s World and The Comedy Stylings of Michael Barrymore always meant halftime would be spent giggling to the bemusement of those around you.

The fanzine has been a key part of my Rovers experience. I’ve written articles for it in all manner of places; on the bus to away games, on the train back, and even during matches. I’ve also penned articles on all manner of topics, though the majority of those can be traced back to a central theme of hating Neil Warnock.  Also, unbeknown to many I also gambled on my articles. For two seasons my fellow fans used to give me random words and bet that I couldn’t get them into the fanzine. Crowbarring “wankle rotary engine” into a piece on Rovers’ Division Three title challenge was a particular high point.

For almost as long as I’ve written for Popular STAND I’ve helped to sell it. Briefly outside Belle Vue’s Main Stand where I was convinced a dozen Barnet fans that it was £5 to get in the VSC’s Red Shed for a drink, but only £1 if they bought a fanzine first. Then for four years or so my spot was outside the Pop Side turnstiles before relocating to my current spot by the statue at Keepmoat’s South West corner where you may have bought this very edition. I often see familiar faces who have bought copies from me at all three locations and though I’ve never spoken to them beyond a “Pound please” and a “thank you” I know we’ve shared a hell of a football journey. A lot of things have changed over the course of the last fifty  issues, but this fanzine has remained as a significant reminder of our recent past, and as a welcome constant.

So here’s to Popular STAND, still on sale, still only £1

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