Why I love... When Saturday Comes
In this week’s Why I love, chief sub-editor Ross Basham sings the praises of a football magazine that provides a sane voice in a mad world…
It’s hard to escape football these days. Even if you love the game (as I do), the constant TV coverage, hysterical tabloid headlines and sheer existence of John Terry can leave you feeling a bit jaded.
But it was a different world back in 1986, the year When Saturday Comes (WSC) was born. Then, football was something of a national embarrassment. There was hardly any live action on TV, English teams had been banned from playing in Europe and fans were treated as hooligans who needed to be contained behind fences, rather than paying customers. Of course, many fans were idiots (and still are), but by no means all – and that’s where WSC came in.
Starting off as a photocopied pamphlet, WSC sought to provide a voice for intelligent football fans – the ones who went to matches to support their teams, but weren’t about to run amok in city centres scaring the life out of Saturday shoppers. Offering both a serious and humorous view of the sport, WSC found itself at the vanguard of a 1990s boom in football publishing.
While most magazines and fanzines have fallen by the wayside (to be widely replaced by blogs), WSC has flourished, adding a website (updated daily) to the monthly printed magazine and a weekly e-newsletter, the Howl, which “delivers despair and enlightenment to your inbox every Friday”.
For me, WSC has the perfect blend of informative articles, incisive analysis and surreal humour. While not ignoring the Premier League in all its ostentatious glory, the magazine is just as likely to run an article about a match between Barrow and Newport County, or a look back at the TV treat that was Jossy’s Giants (both in the latest issue).
WSC is also home to hard-hitting editorials about issues such as the Hillsborough report, corruption in football and the rising cost of going to a match. While its tone could sometimes be described as a bit sarcastic, a bit grumbling and a bit “in my day”, the same could be said of the majority of fans over the age of 25. And, crucially, WSC never loses sight of what makes football at all levels so enthralling.
Most importantly, WSC shares my hatred of perhaps the most distressing development in modern football: the playing of music after a goal is scored. Please make it stop.