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Zoë Ball: an ideal football fan?

A selection of retro football magazines.

Because I’m a bit sad, I’ve been reading old football magazines today.

I particularly enjoyed an interview with former Children’s BBC presenter Zoë Ball, where 90 Minutes journalist Nick Fiaca asked why she supported Manchester United. This was her response:

“Not because I fancy Ryan Giggs. It’s a mixture of things. My dad, Johnny Ball, is a big Liverpool fan, so I always adopted them as my team. I actually lived in Manchester for three years and used to go to Anfield quite a lot. I never actually went to Old Trafford, and most of my friends in Manchester supported City.

Then the last time I went to see Liverpool, I remember cheering for Oldham. It was the fans. Basically I went off watching Liverpool because the fans were abusive and I didn’t enjoy it. It was also the time of Graeme Souness and the atmosphere was a bit dodgy. Then I moved back to London and saw Man Utd play a Russian team in a friendly and the atmosphere was great. I used to go to QPR quite a lot because they’re next to the BBC, but my boyfriend supported Man Utd. I used to give him a really hard time about it, then I started watching them and really got into the team.”

I like this quote, because it’s a thoughtful response that you don’t always get from football supporters.

Unlike Tim Lovejoy – whom started supporting Chelsea, rather than Watford, for no apparent reason – I can understand why Zoë wanted to change teams.

For some fans, it’s probably difficult to support a team when they are uncomfortable with their fellow supporters or a change of direction at the club.

And, on occasions, they are unable to discover their “true” team instantly; it’s not as clear-cut as some fans make out and, for certain supporters, they may want to experiment.

However, Zoë’s views are misguided at times. For instance, she states:

“Basically, if United want to do well in Europe we need a sweeper at the back, and I couldn’t think of anybody who’d be a good one. The only person I could think of was Paul Ince.”

But, judging from the interview, it’s clear that she enjoys football, and she sees it as a fun hobby that shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

In an odd way, she has probably got the right idea.

And it’s a pretty good mindset to end the year with. Happy New Year, everybody.

Non-web sources

Fiaca, N. (1996) Zoë Ball’s Man Utd Dream Team. 90 Minutes, Saturday July 13 1996, p.25.

Lovejoy, T. (2007) Lovejoy on Football. London: Century, Random House.

Happy birthday, UK Singles Chart

Mark Goodier presented ‘The Radio 1 Chart Show’ during the 1990s and early 2000s. Image courtesy of The Radio Academy via Flickr.

You may have noticed that I use the phrase “UK Singles Chart” on occasions.

And I am going to mention it again because the UK Singles Chart is celebrating its 60th anniversary today.

On 14 November 1952, the New Musical Express published a Top 12 Singles Chart, making it the first ever chart of its kind in the UK.

The UK Singles Chart means a lot to me – even now, I re-read old editions of The Guinness Book of Hit Singles.

And, as a child and teenager, I regularly used to tape snippets from Bruno Brookes and Mark Goodier’s ‘The Radio 1 Chart Show’. It is something that has helped to shape my love of music.

But – despite Rihanna only selling 9,578 CDs and downloads to achieve a Number 1 album for ‘Talk That Talk’ in August – there is still life in the old dog.

For instance, Robbie Williams’ new single, ‘Candy’, reached Number 1 at the beginning of the month.

‘Candy’ achieved sales of 137,000 during its first week – making it the fastest selling single by a male artist so far in 2012.

And this was despite Radio 1 omitting the single from its playlist.

Not only this, but Williams’ sales were in stark contrast to Iron Maiden’s first-week sales of 42,000 for ‘Bring Your Daughter… To The Slaughter’ in December 1990 (furthermore, its second-week sales at Number 1 fell to 29,000) and Eric Prydz’s sales of 21,749 for ‘Call On Me’ in October 2004.

Also, between 1990 and 1992, single sales totalled 168 million. Meanwhile, between 2010 and 2012, single sales have already reached the 500 million mark.

Although the UK Singles Chart is less important in today’s digital age, the right single can still strike a chord amongst record buyers.

And, because of that, it’s rather fitting that ‘Candy’ is the Number 1 single on this anniversary.

Let’s hope that the charts continue for another 60 years.

Non-web sources

Gambaccini, Paul et al (eds) (1995) The Guinness Book of British Hit Singles. 10th edition. London: GRR Publications.

Roberts, D. (ed) (2005) The Guinness Book of British Hit Singles & Albums. 18th edition. London: Guinness World Records.

Kakko: big in Japan

Early 1990s pop flop Kakko came from Japan. Image courtesy of Héctor de Pereda via Flickr.

I have just spent the best part of 30 minutes thinking about PWL’s megaflop Kakko.

In what was seen as Stock Aitken Waterman’s biggest mistake, the Japanese singer released two singles in 1990.

Although these songs were fluffy and predictable pop, I still think that the oriental pentatonic hook on ‘We Should Be Dancing’, and the singer’s general obscurity, is oddly appealing.

Her first single, ‘We Should Be Dancing’, peaked at Number 101 in the UK Singles Chart – despite appearances on ‘Wac 90’, ‘Motormouth’ and ‘The Hit Man and Her’ – and her follow-up, ‘What Kind of Fool’, didn’t even chart.

She returned to Japan in the early 1990s and has since acted in several television dramas such as ‘Asunaro Hakusho’.

However, I want to focus on her television adverts.

In 2006, for instance, she promoted nori, the Japanese name for edible seaweed. She starred in another advert for nori in 2007.

Also, in 1995, she advertised Kirin beer – as well as Hygia during the 2000s.

I’m pleased for her – she seems like a good woman who was hard done by in the UK.

Roy Race: a master journalist

The Roy of the Rovers comic was relaunched on 19 May 1990.

Recently, I have been rummaging through various issues of the Roy Of The Rovers magazine-cum-comic.

Inevitably, it was a thoroughly enjoyable task and I also discovered this interesting blurb in the first edition of its 1990 relaunch.


ROY RACE has always represented the good in football… fair play, sportsmanship and team work! As a forward-thinking player-manager, I believe that football has to move ahead with the times. This has always been my policy at Melchester Rovers. So, at this thrilling time in the soccer calendar, it is now time for ROY OF THE ROVERS to move proudly into the 90’s [sic] with a bright, brand new ALL COLOUR magazine presented for the first time this week. With my friends, England striker Gary Lineker and Editor David Hunt to assist me, it will be our enjoyable task each week to present the top stars, top photographs and top stories and features from the world of soccer – ALL IN COLOUR! The one important extra has to be YOU! Make sure you enter the many weekly features we have included for you to take part in. Also, write in and let me know your opinion of the new-look ROY OF THE ROVERS.


From this, “Mr Race” knew that journalism involved audience interactivity and making copy as readable as possible (hence, a brand new all colour magazine).

Not only was he a master fictional player-manager, but he was also a master fictional journalist. WHAT A HERO.

Non-web sources

Race, R. (1990) A Roy Race Welcome To All Football Fans! Roy of the Rovers, Monday May 19 1990, p.1.

IBWM: The First Two Years

‘IBWM: The First Two Years’ features 26 chapters, as well as a selection of photography and artwork, about world football.

I have contributed to a new book, which was published at the back end of last month.

IBWM: The First Two Years’, edited by David Hartrick, marks the second anniversary of the breakout world football website In Bed With Maradona.

I have written a chapter about the relationship between music and football terraces – and there are 25 other chapters from accomplished writers such as Andrew Thomas, Ben Shave, Dan Brennan, Juliet Jacques and Mark Gilbey.

In addition, there’s a selection of superb photography and artwork from the likes of Danny Last and Steve Welsh.

Steve Rowe’s book design is outstanding and it should be an enjoyable read for any football fan.

You can buy the book online from Ockley Books, the publishers of ‘IBWM: The First Two Years’, for £14.99 and it is also available from selected branches of Waterstones.