How The End began

In 1981, Peter Hooton founded a groundbreaking fanzine in Liverpool called The End. Here he explains how he helped start a revolution in football media

The idea for The End came well before the explosion of football fanzines in the mid-1980s and was an attempt to combine football, music and culture. I didn’t have a blueprint in mind but I thought if we can produce a magazine which reflected everyday conversations you had with your mates and the laughs you could have in the pub people might like it.

The End has been described as the grandfather of football fanzines, but it was never really a football fanzine as such and certainly wasn’t club-specific. Although football and terrace fashion was featured, our main aim was to observe and be satirical.

The End certainly inspired many people to write – the 1990s London clubbers' bible Boys' Own was probably the most successful – but we had many correspondents from around the UK who cited The End as an inspiration for them putting pen to paper.

An early correspondent to The End was Mike Ticher, who started the excellent When Saturday Comes in 1986 – five years after The End was born. The first few issues of When Saturday Comes were stencilled in the outdated tradition of the punk fanzine.

Having requested and received a copy of The End, he replied to say he was under the impression we were a football fanzine but was unimpressed by our lack of analysis and our obsession with terrace fashion and trouble at matches. We were unimpressed by his reply as he'd obviously missed the point of our magazine completely: we were just reflecting what young other match going football fans were interested in.

We weren’t obsessed with football hooliganism – we were actually ridiculing it – but we were going to lots of matches home and away, so we simply couldn’t ignore what was a feature of going to football in the 1980s. He must’ve been impressed with our layout though: their next edition looked like a replica of The End, which we took as a compliment, but our correspondence ended.

One thing many people have said to me over the years is that The End encouraged them to write down their ideas, whether it was via poems, stories or letters. This hardly sounds revolutionary now we have Facebook and Twitter, but in those days it was very much harder to get your opinions heard.

Now everyone's at it, expressing opinions on all sorts of topics whether on football forums, radio phone-ins or social networking sites. It has never been easy to get your views known – but you now have to wade through the dross to get to the good stuff.

At The End we prided ourselves in printing articles about boasters and exaggerators, phonies and characters we came across in everyday life. Maybe one of the main reasons for the phenomenal success of the recently-published The End compilation is that these people are still legion, especially in this vacuous celebrity-obsessed culture – or maybe people just want to laugh and reminisce.

In the 1980s and 90s some excellent football fanzines emerged – like When Skies Are Grey (Everton), What’s The Score (Merseyside), and United We Stand (Man United) – which clearly had the spirit of The End in mind. It's great that new magazines like Boss Mag and Halcyon in Liverpool have been recently put that style and attitude back into print.

Even though the people who produce these magazines were too young to have read The End first time around, they cite that they want to recreate its ethos – and now the The End compilation is out they can actually read it and hopefully see what all the fuss was about.

The End compilation is out now. Peter Hooton went on to be lead singer in The Farm and tells the story of their hit single All Together Now in the new issue of FourFourTwo, also out now

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