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The Greatest Game (TGG) Magazine/Fanzine


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#1 Padge

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Posted 22 August 2013 - 07:39 PM

Any info welcome.

 

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#2 John Drake

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Posted 22 August 2013 - 08:16 PM

I was the editor of TGG for the first 5 years of its life! :)


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#3 Padge

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Posted 22 August 2013 - 09:03 PM

I was the editor of TGG for the first 5 years of its life! :)

Right then, how did it start etc. as much background as poss (PM if necessary), nothing salacious going on, no need to hide anything.



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#4 shaun mc

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Posted 22 August 2013 - 09:20 PM

I have all of the early ones somewhere.
Remember it being a bit of a campaign-led publication IIRC.

#5 deluded pom?

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Posted 22 August 2013 - 09:38 PM

When, if it actually has, did it cease to be published? I used to love fanzines. Real supporters views rather than a club issued press release by numbers.

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#6 Nomad XIII

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Posted 22 August 2013 - 10:39 PM

I bought one issue about 10 years ago. It seemed to consist mainly of Michael O'Hare prattling on about why he doesn't like rugby union.



#7 deluded pom?

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Posted 23 August 2013 - 06:23 AM

I bought one issue about 10 years ago. It seemed to consist mainly of Michael O'Hare prattling on about why he doesn't like rugby union.

The Irish horse racing commentator?

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#8 Cliff Spracklen

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Posted 23 August 2013 - 10:54 AM

Any info welcome.

 

Ta Folks

 TGG Magazine was produced by the Rugby League Supporters Association, of which I was Chair for some years,  which also gave rise to the Virtual Terrace and RL Fans.com Websites years before the change to Super League. As John reminds us he was the first editor, moving on from the Bradford Northern fanzine, The Steam Pig. The RLSA was non-club affiliated and in its hey day was involved in various campaigns from Shirts to Soweto to Ray Gent's  "the petition". It was about friendship between fans of different clubs, arguing for a voice to given to and the involvement of fans. The magazine itself reflected the views of the contributors, but balanced views were sought, and often on major issues there would be articles reflecting opposing views to reflect that. It played a role in the X111 Actif campaign in France over the Vichy banning. Contributors ranged from far and wide, but in the later years the regular contributors were Michael O'Hare, Geoff Lee, Jean-Pierre Gerin , Karl and Lee Spracklen and Paul Cunliffe. Whilst it campaigned for giving fans a structured voice within the game it was also very much in favour of expansion in all its' forms. The magazine was paid for by members annual subscriptions, but sadly this proved uneconomic. With rising printing costs some members were ending up subsidising it out of their own pocket. The RLSA similarly organised many open Fans Forums at one time but again the internet and difficulties of securing reasonable attendances at meetings meant that it was difficult to sustain. The RLSA did support the movement for Supporters Trusts and it was hoped that progress in this area would provide a new stimulus with the support of the Supporters Direct organisation. There is an RL group as part of the Supporters Direct meetings structure, chaired by Martyn Cheney, but this comprises just those clubs that have supporters trusts. Sadly the funding at SD provided by the RFL ceased which perhaps reflects a general club view on supporters trusts. Many are not in favour so RL lags way behind football in this area. For anybody wanting samples I suggest you contact Geoff Lee at one of his RL book presentations. Geoff was RLSA Secretary and in his younger days would sell TGG magazine outside of RL grounds. I bet he has copies left.  



#9 John Drake

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Posted 23 August 2013 - 11:14 AM

(I was in the middle of writing this when Cliff posted his response above. It colours in a few more details so I've posted it anyway, unchanged).

Blimey, it's all a long time ago, my memory is hazy and my collection of TGGs is up in the loft somewhere, but here's what I can recall off the top of my head.

It was all originally the idea of Michael Fielding, founder of Bradford Northern's 'The Steam Pig' fanzine. It was in 1989, I think, and Michael wanted to try and unite all the various RL fanzine producers around at that time in common cause to set up a Rugby League equivalent of the Football Supporters Association, which had been making headlines following the publication of the Taylor Report after the Valley Parade and Hillsborough disasters.

Several meetings were held in pubs around the north of England, with representatives from (off the top of my head) 'The Steam Pig' (including me), 'Flag Edge Touch' (Hull KR, including Tony Collins before his elevation to Professorship), 'The Loiner' (Leeds), 'Tangerine Dream' (Blackpool), a Cas fanzine I can't remember the name of right now, and 'Wally Lewis Is Coming' (Wakefield). I'm sure there were others too, apologies to anyone reading this who was there and I've forgotten.

Michael's idea got the general thumbs up, so a public meeting was called to rally fans to the cause, which took place at The Cardigan Arms in Leeds in February 1990, before an international match at Headingley (don't ask me which one, can't remember, GB v France possibly).

The meeting which had been publicised in Open Rugby, Rugby Leaguer and local radio stations was very well attended, and a team of willing volunteers was assembled to set up the Rugby League Supporters Association (RLSA) which would also publish a quarterly fanzine, The Greatest Game (TGG), four issues free per year for members who paid the annual £5 RLSA membership fee, and also on sale to the general public for a pound.

The RLSA officially launched itself with a public meeting at - inevitably - The George Hotel in Huddersfield in August 1990. The first committee to be elected to run its affairs was:

Chair: Louis Kasatkin (Castleford)
Secretary: Tony Collins (Hull KR)
Treasurer: John Mason (Wigan)
Editorial Co-ordinator: Me!

There were various other roles too, but again, I can't remember them all right now. Apologies to any I've missed out.

The first issue of TGG was published in September 1990. It was quite a month for new RL titles - a certain League Express also made its debut that month alongside a British edition of Australia's Rugby League Week and a glossy official brochure type thing called Rugby League Highlights. Only TGG and League Express had any kind of longevity though.

The first issue had a 'Private Eye' style cover with a picture of ex-All Black John Gallagher who had just signed for Leeds for rather a lot of money and the kind of billing he could never hope to live up to - and didn't.

The RLSA memberships and fanzine copies sold well enough for us to be able to afford to do a second issue on schedule, and on it went like that for many a year. At its pre-internet peak, it was even on sale in WH Smith like a 'proper' magazine but it was always a hand to mouth existence keeping it going. It was no money-spinner.

In its early days the RLSA put out a policy document called 'Blueprint 2000' which was a statement of how we wanted the game to be organised in future. So much of it seemed like complete fantasy at the time. Such radical notions as involving amateur and French teams in the Challenge Cup, a unified governing body and an end to the barriers that existed between the professional and amateur games. The RLSA also campaigned to improve ground standards, end the ban on Rugby League in the Armed Forces, to get the Royal Mail to issue a range of commemorative stamps for the Centenary in 1995 and to encourage fans to send unwanted kit to help developing RL nations like South Africa and Russia.

All without the aid of email or the internet!

The first few issues were genuine 'cut', 'copy' and 'paste' efforts using scissors and a Pritt stick. When we did go computerised, I remember putting many issues of TGG together on a steam powered second hand PC running Windows 3.1 with a massive 4Mb of RAM. You could only have one program running at a time. Eeh, them were t'days.

When the internet finally made it to my house, I set up an RLSA website and if you visit The Wayback Machine at http://archive.org/web/web.php and type in http://greatestgame.simplenet.com you can see various examples of that website starting from 15 Jan 1998. Have a look at the message board on that date (the very first incarnation of The Virtual Terrace, no registration required but very few trolls too, they hadn't worked out how to use a computer yet) and chuckle as I just did to see the first post is titled "League is dying".

The more things change, etc... at least I've stopped using frames in website design. ;0)

The Virtual Terrace survives to this day over at rlfans.com

My own 'official' involvement with TGG and the RLSA ended in 1995 after 5 years as editor, but I helped out with various things including the website long after that. A fellow Bradfordian Peter Hardy replaced me as editor, and he stuck around for almost 5 years too and he was followed by Cas fan Stuart Lake who had worked on the 'Aye of the Tiger' fanzine previously. After Stuart, I couldn't tell you. Karl Spracklen did it for a while, not sure of actual dates, and some other lightweights only lasted one issue because it's hard work and no glamour!

Ultimately, the internet in general and message boards like this one usurped the role of the printed fanzine. It's so much simpler and quicker - but not necessarily better - to spout off online.

I'm not sure exactly when TGG published its last issue. Others on here may know more about its latter years than me.


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#10 deluded pom?

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Posted 23 August 2013 - 12:44 PM

The first issue of TGG was published in September 1990. It was quite a month for new RL titles - a certain League Express also made its debut that month alongside a British edition of Australia's Rugby League Week and a glossy official brochure type thing called Rugby League Highlights. Only TGG and League Express had any kind of longevity though.

I can't remember the British version of RLW John but I do remember an Australian version of Open Rugby which only ran for about half a dozen issues. I also remember Rugby League Highlights whose star didn't shine for very long.

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#11 Cliff Spracklen

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Posted 23 August 2013 - 01:52 PM

(I was in the middle of writing this when Cliff posted his response above. It colours in a few more details so I've posted it anyway, unchanged).

Blimey, it's all a long time ago, my memory is hazy and my collection of TGGs is up in the loft somewhere, but here's what I can recall off the top of my head.

It was all originally the idea of Michael Fielding, founder of Bradford Northern's 'The Steam Pig' fanzine. It was in 1989, I think, and Michael wanted to try and unite all the various RL fanzine producers around at that time in common cause to set up a Rugby League equivalent of the Football Supporters Association, which had been making headlines following the publication of the Taylor Report after the Valley Parade and Hillsborough disasters.

Several meetings were held in pubs around the north of England, with representatives from (off the top of my head) 'The Steam Pig' (including me), 'Flag Edge Touch' (Hull KR, including Tony Collins before his elevation to Professorship), 'The Loiner' (Leeds), 'Tangerine Dream' (Blackpool), a Cas fanzine I can't remember the name of right now, and 'Wally Lewis Is Coming' (Wakefield). I'm sure there were others too, apologies to anyone reading this who was there and I've forgotten.

Michael's idea got the general thumbs up, so a public meeting was called to rally fans to the cause, which took place at The Cardigan Arms in Leeds in February 1990, before an international match at Headingley (don't ask me which one, can't remember, GB v France possibly).

The meeting which had been publicised in Open Rugby, Rugby Leaguer and local radio stations was very well attended, and a team of willing volunteers was assembled to set up the Rugby League Supporters Association (RLSA) which would also publish a quarterly fanzine, The Greatest Game (TGG), four issues free per year for members who paid the annual £5 RLSA membership fee, and also on sale to the general public for a pound.

The RLSA officially launched itself with a public meeting at - inevitably - The George Hotel in Huddersfield in August 1990. The first committee to be elected to run its affairs was:

Chair: Louis Kasatkin (Castleford)
Secretary: Tony Collins (Hull KR)
Treasurer: John Mason (Wigan)
Editorial Co-ordinator: Me!

There were various other roles too, but again, I can't remember them all right now. Apologies to any I've missed out.

The first issue of TGG was published in September 1990. It was quite a month for new RL titles - a certain League Express also made its debut that month alongside a British edition of Australia's Rugby League Week and a glossy official brochure type thing called Rugby League Highlights. Only TGG and League Express had any kind of longevity though.

The first issue had a 'Private Eye' style cover with a picture of ex-All Black John Gallagher who had just signed for Leeds for rather a lot of money and the kind of billing he could never hope to live up to - and didn't.

The RLSA memberships and fanzine copies sold well enough for us to be able to afford to do a second issue on schedule, and on it went like that for many a year. At its pre-internet peak, it was even on sale in WH Smith like a 'proper' magazine but it was always a hand to mouth existence keeping it going. It was no money-spinner.

In its early days the RLSA put out a policy document called 'Blueprint 2000' which was a statement of how we wanted the game to be organised in future. So much of it seemed like complete fantasy at the time. Such radical notions as involving amateur and French teams in the Challenge Cup, a unified governing body and an end to the barriers that existed between the professional and amateur games. The RLSA also campaigned to improve ground standards, end the ban on Rugby League in the Armed Forces, to get the Royal Mail to issue a range of commemorative stamps for the Centenary in 1995 and to encourage fans to send unwanted kit to help developing RL nations like South Africa and Russia.

All without the aid of email or the internet!

The first few issues were genuine 'cut', 'copy' and 'paste' efforts using scissors and a Pritt stick. When we did go computerised, I remember putting many issues of TGG together on a steam powered second hand PC running Windows 3.1 with a massive 4Mb of RAM. You could only have one program running at a time. Eeh, them were t'days.

When the internet finally made it to my house, I set up an RLSA website and if you visit The Wayback Machine at http://archive.org/web/web.php and type in http://greatestgame.simplenet.com you can see various examples of that website starting from 15 Jan 1998. Have a look at the message board on that date (the very first incarnation of The Virtual Terrace, no registration required but very few trolls too, they hadn't worked out how to use a computer yet) and chuckle as I just did to see the first post is titled "League is dying".

The more things change, etc... at least I've stopped using frames in website design. ;0)

The Virtual Terrace survives to this day over at rlfans.com

My own 'official' involvement with TGG and the RLSA ended in 1995 after 5 years as editor, but I helped out with various things including the website long after that. A fellow Bradfordian Peter Hardy replaced me as editor, and he stuck around for almost 5 years too and he was followed by Cas fan Stuart Lake who had worked on the 'Aye of the Tiger' fanzine previously. After Stuart, I couldn't tell you. Karl Spracklen did it for a while, not sure of actual dates, and some other lightweights only lasted one issue because it's hard work and no glamour!

Ultimately, the internet in general and message boards like this one usurped the role of the printed fanzine. It's so much simpler and quicker - but not necessarily better - to spout off online.

I'm not sure exactly when TGG published its last issue. Others on here may know more about its latter years than me.

 

 

 

 

My apologies for not mentioning Tony Collins and Peter Hardy, but I dashed off the reply quickly. I was not involved in the earlier days but Peter Hardy continued as a contributor for quite a long time. Peter was a very gifted and indeed a very funny writer, creating one or two pseudonym characters. Before my involvement there was somebody who was artistic adding sketches/cartoons. One I recall vividly is of Highfield fans doing a "Mexican wave", the handful scattered around the ground that is! :tongue:  Humour as well as sharply pointed polemic was a strong feature. It did demonstrate what talent there was for writing outside of the journalist cadres, with Peter Hardy, Tony Collins, John Drake, Geoff Lee, Karl Spracklen and Michael O'Hare going on to write books, papers and contribute regularly for magazines etc. In the later years it did become very difficult to retain editors for long because although totally voluntary it was very demanding, trying to source topical , interesting yet challenging contributions.

 

 



#12 Geoff Lee

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Posted 23 August 2013 - 02:03 PM

I was the TGG Distribution Manager from issue number 18 in 1994 to the last one which was number 56 and appeared in the winter of 2008/2009. That issue included articles titled Rebranding Super League, Expansion Is A Good Thing, Rochdale Festival and What's Toulouse And Everything To Gain.

It was nearly always a bit late but always worth waiting for by those who read. It also provided an opportunity for some supporters to go into print, maybe for the only time in their lives.

It served a very useful role then and its ideas live on in the web site that it played a part in giving birth to  rlfans.com.

Back in the nineties only a minority of fans had access to the internet, now probably well over 90 % do, which is maybe the main reason why it finally came to an end. But it was certainly good while it lasted, but it was also hard work for the small number who ran it..


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#13 THE RED ROOSTER

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Posted 23 August 2013 - 07:07 PM

I can't remember the British version of RLW John but I do remember an Australian version of Open Rugby which only ran for about half a dozen issues. I also remember Rugby League Highlights whose star didn't shine for very long.

 

Are you thinking of RLW (Australia) which did not last too long which was an LPL production. There was also an Australian general RL fanzine called Loosehead which ran for about 8 issues arounf the turn of the century produced by an English immigrant who had adopted Newtown Jets. The fanzine ceased publication upon his return to the UK I was told. But was available in the UK through London League Publications IIRC.


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Being an outsider, it is easiest to see what is wrong with the sport. It's a fantastic sport that has been undersold and under-marketed  because people who run it probably want to keep it the way it is

 

 

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#14 deluded pom?

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Posted 23 August 2013 - 07:22 PM

No, I can't remember a British version of RLW.

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#15 Chronicler of Chiswick

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 09:11 AM

My word, this thread brings back memories - I actually contributed a fiver to the 'Steam Pig' fighting fund when the Bradford board effectively had it shut. I imagine that the experience has stood JD in good stead managing the infant's class that's us load of reprobates :tease:



#16 Saint Billinge

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 05:46 PM

When, if it actually has, did it cease to be published? I used to love fanzines. Real supporters views rather than a club issued press release by numbers.

 

 Perhaps when the internet became popular.



#17 deluded pom?

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 08:19 AM

Perhaps when the internet became popular.

Certainly looks that way.

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#18 Padge

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 09:09 AM

Many thanks, especially to Cliff and John for providing such a large amount of detail.



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This country's wealth was created by men in overalls, it was destroyed by men in suits.


#19 Bostik Bailey

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 04:00 PM

I was the editor of TGG for the first 5 years of its life! :)


Amid I though you were just a jobbing journo willing to sell his opinion to whoever paid the dollar :)




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