When the folk from When Saturday Comes had youngsters of their own they were “quite disappointed” by the magazines on offer for young football fans. “It was just a parade of international megastars looking moody with a lurid orange ‘WICKED’ thrown in every few centimetres. There was hardly anything to actually read and if your club wasn’t playing in Europe you might as well not exist,” said WSC publisher Richard Guy.
The obvious solution in the digital age, where print magazines are dying left,right and centre, was not to launch a magazine of their own. But that’s what WSC has just gone and done.
Kickaround is a monthly aimed at young fans aged 7-12 in the spirit of the original “half-decent football magazine” When Saturday Comes. Editor of Kickaround Tom Hocking says: “It’s an extremely exciting move not least because it’s the first spin-off magazine we’ve done in over 30 years of publishing.” WSC began life as a black-and-white photocopied fanzine in March 1986, pretty close to English football’s lowest ever point, and is now the second-longest standing, continuously published, UK football title. The magazine has long pushed for greater supporter involvement in the game.
“It feels like a natural progression to apply the values that have served WSC so well over the years to a younger audience, taking a more considered approach to the game and focusing on its place in the wider world,” Hocking continued. To stand apart from the competition and to broaden the outlook of younger fans Kickaround focuses on getting involved, whether it be attending live matches or playing, and the content ranges from how Victorian footballs were actually made to when footballers should have a poo before matches! The women’s game is well featured, which hasn’t been the case in other titles, and the cartoon heritage of WSC is maintained with a comic strip on the tribulations of Faintly Athletic FC. One young fan takes on a skills challenge against Luton’s James Justin, another sends a match report from St Mary’s, while there’s a history of Sheffield United and the content and meaning of Hibernians’ badge is dissected. Plus, to add a touch of familiarity, the prospects of the Champions League quarter-finalists are analysed.
Kickaround is a very deliberate attempt to counteract the over-weaning portrayal of football to youngsters as being all about money, victory, consumption and, at its worst,heartless boasting. Instead it offers a breadth of vision, a willingness to educate in an entertaining and humorous fashion and genuinely well-crafted content. “The response from kids at the development stage has been fantastic”, says Hocking. The challenge of getting it into enough little hands and minds will be just as daunting.
Words from Roger Titford
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