The Joys of Stoke and WTBM75
'Forget the goals, and there were quite a few joys to be found in Stoke, writes Couch Potato…
'Those on my list included seeing several familiar faces amongst the Claret fans, and some new Claret faces on the pitch; going back to a town where I spent a lot of time as a kid, and reading Cuban Claret`s match report with its comments on Stoke fans` friendliness. There`s been a lot said about them from various Burnley sources over the years that was less generous. But I grew up regarding Stoke folk as amongst the friendliest; and if I ignore the odd hand gesture or two as the bus pulled away from the stadium after the match, I was met with friendliness from them all day. You also surely have to be impressed by their singing!
The particular joy that I want to write about here though was getting hold of Issue 75 of When the Ball Moves. Sporting a new look, with hair cut short, editor Martin Barnes was beaming as he sold Burnley`s first ever Premier League fanzine and took it into the final quarter of its first century. Nice one, Barnsey, and keep going.
Like the club`s directors, he has taken the risk of spending more on sharper photos, adding colour on the cover but also sensibly conserving his resources by cutting the number of pages. The design is cleaner and easier to read. Using a standard font size throughout means that he can no longer cram in offerings from his wordier writers (like me) by making the font size on their pieces smaller. This is useful encouragement and discipline for all writers to say more in less words.
It also means that Martin has to edit what goes in, rather than print everything just as he receives it. So we writers can at least blame him for any errors. And, as someone has already pointed out on Vital, there were a few. The only ones that bothered me though involved not being entirely sure who had written which pieces. Richard Timbrell included a typically thoughtful piece about the squad called 'Room for Improvement?` and, as with squads so with fanzines… when you change things around, it takes a while to get it perfect.
I have no doubt that Martin will make further small improvements to add to the big ones he put in place over the close season. And none of the small blips in this issue detracted from the following highlights, amongst many others: learning that Dave Thomas has been banned from his local newsagents from reading papers without buying them, as Burnley Football Club are in all of them now; shedding tears of joy with a fellow Claret as he described taking a school party round Wembley just a few weeks after we won there; and reeling at the news that Burnley finances got more than a wee bit edgy round about the time Southampton`s went pear-shaped.
Buy WTBM 75 and you will find stuff from well-established writers, and some from new ones, including one who lives in Seattle, who I assume is the guy from Seattle who was sitting on his own at Wembley when just about everyone but him and me had gone.
It`s all good stuff, and well worth the £1.50 asking price. So buy it! Dave Alton`s salute to our heroes in poetry is worth the price alone. As is Secret Diary of a Young Claret
. I used to think this was written by Barnsey, but the writer really is young… and talented.
Something else I approve of is Dave Thomas`s paragraph of support for the ticket and lottery office staff who worked as hard as Grezza to get us all to Wembley. I had submitted a piece called 'Just the Ticket - A Farce in 5 Acts` which tried to present all views - including sympathy for the hard-working staff - soon after many of us were fretting and fuming over when we would each get our own tickets. I told Barnsey he could leave the piece out if space was tight. But if anyone is still interested, and Turfman is willing, I will post it in the column he has set up for me on Vital called 'View from the Couch`.
'Just the Ticket` features, amongst other things, a dream sequence in which Barnsey and Fletch share a few glasses before going off to burn some rubber in the team coach. And Gabor Kiraly singing Que Sera after I throw an empty beer can, and inadvertently hit him with it. As it says in the title, it`s a farce… but with some serious things to think about, like saying thank you to the ticket and lottery office staff.
I can also ask Turfman to post my blues song about Elliott that was promised in my tribute to him in WTBM, but then not included. Some of my Close Season Diary got cut too.
Probably just as well, though I personally liked my cut quip about large men`s shirts selling out rapidly when the new season`s kit went on sale… who ever said big men can`t move quickly?
All of which teaches me that I must write less words in future. So I will shut up now, other than saying, once again, brilliant Barnsey! Take a bow.'Written by Couch Potato