Much to our surprise, popular STAND has been included on the shortlist for Fanzine of the Year at the FSF Awards. Here, editor Glen Wilson, expands on what this means for a publication like ours, and for his own sanity.
It’s Saturday 18 October, 2:30pm. Several hundred Rovers fans are taking their place on the away terrace at Fleetwood Town. I am not. Instead I am standing on the south side of the Thames, clutching in one hand an increasingly cold coffee, and in the other the phone down which I’m having a row with my girlfriend. We are rowing, ultimately, about popular STAND.
We are arguing because for the tenth time since our relationship began, I have had to cancel plans because I am still writing and editing popular STAND. Quite reasonably, and completely understandably, she is upset and annoyed by this. “I mean is it really worth it? It’s not that good, no-one ever gives any feedback and no-one new ever gets involved no matter how many times they’re asked. I doubt anyone really cares if it’s there or not. What’s the point? Why even bother really? May as well just jack it in, it’d certainly be better for us that way.” I said all that by the way, not her. She’s far too supportive to ever say anything like that. And at the time I meant it, because I was fed up of my life being taken over, and my relationship knocked, all for this little forty-page, £1, not-for-profit fanzine. Because popular STAND does that to me.
I am incredibly lucky to have a brilliant set of contributors. Genuinely great writers who send me some truly wonderful articles full of thoughtful, intelligent, fascinating, and often hilarious prose. But we don’t have a fanzine team. And we don’t have a designer. And we don’t have glossy ads for ‘casual’ clothing that mercifully take up pages, lessening the burden of writing. And so on average 16-20 pages of each issue have to be written by me. And all these articles, and those we’ve been sent, have to be placed on the pages through my limited self-taught InDesign and accompanied by images edited by my limited self-taught photoshop skills. And so ultimately, on occasion, when you’re sitting there at 4am on a Tuesday night, trying to photoshop Dean Saunders’ head onto Columbo’s body, knowing you have to be at your actual job in five hours, and still need to write two pages on a topic you’ve not yet decided on, and get everything in order for Dave the printer before you can go to bed, you do start to wonder, what is the point? Why do we bother?
Being nominated for the FSF is not why. Its very welcome, and I’ll come onto that, but it’s not the point. In my time as editor I have been reminded of why we do this on three occasions. Last Christmas we were, thanks to encouraging sales figures, able to donate £500 to Doncaster Food Banks; a local charity for local people backed by local interest; just how it should be. Also last year we somehow managed to catapult the fate and misfortune of Doncaster Belles to national prominence. Our coverage of their forced demotion – read by a staggering 40,000 people – may not have saved the club from the FA’s whim, but it did at least stop women’s football from sliding under the radar. But the most telling reiteration of why we do this came during the ill-feted and ill-thought-out flirtation between Doncaster Rovers and Willie McKay’s experiment. I was firmly against it from the start, and as a result was ‘othered’ as the enemy by both the club and the supporters’ trust. Fanzine sales dropped, and I was getting verbal abuse as I sold it. Then one old fella, whose name I’ve never known, stopped as he bought his copy to say “Keep doing what you’re doing, keep asking the questions, don’t let them get to you, we need someone to stand up”. That is and always will be, the best compliment or accolade a fanzine could ever receive.
But these fleeting moments are sadly often forgotten in the fug of delivering another issue. I’ve written for popular STAND since issue 13, when I was still at school. I took over as editor for issue 52. I was unemployed during issues 53 to 56, and had to borrow money in order to get to the ground to sell them. I was suffering very badly from depression during issue 61. Only thanks to my girlfriend’s kind words did issue 72 ever see the light of day.
Fanzine editing is a fragile thing. This nomination, and arguably more so the incredibly kind wishes it has brought from respected writers, bloggers and indeed other fanzine editors, has given me a valuable lift at a time when it was most needed, and will hopefully help popular STAND stumble onwards to issue 100. That is why this nomination matters, and means an incredible amount. Because it has removed the dread and the worry that had begun to hang over those long nights staring at the laptop, and helped me refocus on the positives of popular STAND again. So thank you. Thank you if you nominated us, thank you if you shortlisted us, thank you if you’ve ever said anything encouraging to us, or just walked away after buying one laughing at the cover and sharing it with your friends. Thank you especially if you’ve ever written for us, or sold for us, or even just bought a single copy from us.
We won’t win fanzine of the year. We don’t have the reach, or the impact, or the support to win in a public vote (I mean, fuck me, A Love Supreme have an actual premises). No, just being nominated is our win. A very welcome pat on the back to reiterate that all this is worth it, for all of us involved. So thanks for the support, and your time, and we’ll see you by the statue, or outside the South Stand or the Belle Vue Bar again next month, to give you more of the same;
“popular STAND, Rovers fanzine! Still only £1
…what? No, no, it’s not a programme mate.”
You can vote in the FSF Awards on this link. The fanzine category is the fourth one down, but we won’t win, so we’d advise you to vote for you second favourite; they’re all very good.
We still have copies of issue 72 available and will be selling them outside the away turnstile(s) at Weston-Super-Mare on Saturday, or can arrange postage if you prefer. Just get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org or via twitter if you want one.