As the world moves with technology, the great dynasty of the football magazine looks to be evolving with innovation. Whilst we once relied on Four Four Two, for footballing opinion and news; now anyone without any graphic design experience through online tools such as Vista Create can make a booklet online.
For almost a century however, kids and adults a-like would depend on the same weekly publications for their extra football fix. To find the first publication to put football at its core, we have to go back to 1873, with The Goal: The Chronicle of Football, a short lived magazine that would only last 22 weekly editions.
The first football focussed newspaper boasts a much greater legacy however. La Gazzetta Dello Sport would not only pave the way for many more football publications, but would amass a huge following, that generations of Italians have relied on for over a hundred years. Still at the forefront of footballing news, La Gazetta Dello Sport can claim a profound influence on the growth of the Italian game since its inception in 1896.
In England it would be some time before a football centered publication would capture public attention, with Britain’s first weekly football-based Newspaper releasing in 1952. Raich Carter’s Soccer Stars was named after Former footballer/Cricketer Horatio Carter, most notable for his 13 England caps and 8 years at Sunderland which featured an F.A Cup win.
The paper was published year round 52 weeks a year, which made it particularly popular during football’s downtime in the Summer months. It would deliver whatever stories from the world of football it could get its hands on. In a time where footballers were not the tabloid stars they are today, running stories through the Summer was quite a challenge. In 1970, the magazine was assimilated into Britain’s longest and still running magazine World Soccer.
World Soccer still runs today, and is Britain’s oldest, still running football magazine/publication, the magazine focussed on… World…Soccer… Who’d have thought? Since 1982 the magazine has organised Player and Manager of the year awards and has been the go-to source for news of non-domestic football for 63 years.
Also in the 50’s came a new target demographic, with more and more kids infatuated by the beautiful game following its restart after the Second World War. Comic strips such as Roy of the Rovers would make waves, inspiring kids for decades to don whatever football boots they could get their hands(feet?) on and take to the first pitch that’ll have them. Initially starting as a comic strip in the serial comic publication Tiger.
After it’s quick popularity, it would become its own weekly comic, that would run until 1993, in one of the few British weekly comics to reach a legitimate conclusion, with the titular character Roy, losing his foot in a Helicopter crash and bringing an end to his career. Heavy stuff. The original strip would follow Roy through 40 seasons, though this longevity was never addressed or eluded too. Despite numerous cancellations, the Roy of the Rovers “universe” still continues on, with women’s game spin offs and the strip focussing on a “new” 16 year old Roy.
Back to the real world, the 90’s brought forth a slew of football magazines that served to provide weekly football based entertainment and news to the now massive demographic of football mad kids. Match of the Day and rival publication Match would explode in popularity, but despite being synonymous with the 2000’s, Match holds a long lasting lineage, first published in 1979.
As a child who grew up in the heyday of Match and Match of the Day, you need only walk into a year 7 class room and see copies strewn over every 12 year old’s desk. To not be up to date with the latest transfer and footballing gossip, could bring ridicule equivalent to using a Walkman after MP3 players had been invented.