Growing up in the 1960s, I cadged Football Monthly whenever I could as it was beyond my pocket money and marvelled at Soccer Star, with its full lists of results and teams, from the newsagent’s shelf. So, I learned my football from a daily newspaper (we had the Express at home, Alan Hoby included) and comics.
I still have the ‘World Cup scorebook’ that came with the Hornet in 1966, complete with the scores entered a little clumsily in my 10-year-old’s excitable handwriting.
The other source of collective collectivism, knowledge, information and bad teeth were bubble gum cards. Cigarette cards had been and gone, but this was the pre-Panini era when a clutch of cards came in a waxed envelope with a piece of pink bubble gum.
My mum wasn’t very keen on the bubble gum and, to be honest, nor was I. But an aching jaw and sticky lips were a small price to pay for entry into another world. Exotic animals, indigenous peoples, flags and capital cities all arrived at 22 Second Avenue courtesy of those cards.
I was reminded of those thrilling times in Tegucigalpa and Tierra del Fuego when Britain’s newest football magazine, Kickaround, dropped through the letterbox last week.
It’s from the team that publish When Saturday Comes and in its promo blurb, says it is aimed at boys and girls aged 7 to 12, and is about “getting involved, going to matches and kicking a ball, and offers a refreshing, fun, alternative look at the game for young fans”.
It runs to 52 pages and has so much high-quality content it is difficult to know where to start. There are 20 headings on the contents page and I was immediately drawn to Kelly Cates (aka Miss Dalglish) on the life of a TV presenter and the most sensible discussion I have yet seen on the use of video technology.
There is also how to control the ball like Harry Kane, the life and times of Sheffield United and three pages on the SheBelieves Cup. Somewhat bizarre, there’s also a biology lesson on why players ‘don’t need a poo during matches’ but, hey, this is WSC.
But what got my bubble-gum flavoured juices going again was the giant ‘World Football Map’ inserted in Issue One. Printed on quality paper this beautifully drawn poster featured every football-playing nation – all 208 of them – complete with national strip and flag. (Uzbekistan? I’ll be testing you later).
I wasn’t over impressed with the titles on offer to younger footy fans when I reviewed the sector for my Spotlight column last September. Match!, I wrote, ‘feels a bit thin, small and expensive’ while Match of the Day has ‘lots to look at, but all very quick reads’.
And without going overboard too much, this is a fantastic grown-up mag for younger people. In an age where the challenge is getting young people to look at a printed page rather than a screen, this is a worthy flag-bearer for what we can only hope is a new era.