it really 25 years (nearly)?
by Dave Wiggins
1981, and a cold Saturday night in town.
The usual weekend. Everton
had lost, I’d been to the ‘Golden Mermaid’ chippy in Kenny,
skulked around the edge of the dance floor in ‘Quinns’ (my Pod
shoes, bad ski jumper and ‘Fruit of the Loom’ jumbo cords
totally failing impress a single girl), decided not to pay £1.50 to
get into ‘Rotters’, and started to walk home to catch ‘Match
of the Day’ (and whatever two crappy games they were planning to
feature). Elsewhere in
the world, somebody had beaten some team or other, thereby allowing
England the possibility of a back-door qualification for ‘Espana
‘82’, and maybe Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin were number one
in the Hit Parade with ‘It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want
to’. Or possibly Queen
and David Bowie. I could
look it up, but prefer to preserve the purity of this article.
I’m walking past ‘Pizzaland’ in Lime Street, and a good
looking young fellow approaches me.
He is wearing a tweed jacket, short collared shirt, jeans,
and suedies. He is
carrying a bundle of magazines. ‘ Buy one of these, mate’?
I look at his wares, like some latter-day scouse Simple Simon
examining pies. It says
on the front, ‘The End’, and is like nothing I’d ever seen
before. I am immediately
intrigued, and hand over my 25p to the vendor.
Said fellow is, of course, Peter Hooton, Liverpool legend,
from Formby, and lead singer in number 1 selling album band (true
fact, often overlooked) ‘The Farm’.
Now, in a parallel universe, Hooton and I struck up a firm
friendship that remains to this day; I joined The Farm on maracas,
before going into rehab following the failure of ‘ Love see no
colour’, and subsequently joined Oasis.
In reality, we said, ‘cheers mate’ – he walked on to
fame and a sort of fortune, and I walked up London Road, with ‘The
End’, freezing my nuts off.
I should die, think only this of me.
There is some corner of the field, wherein I am laid, that is
forever ‘The End’. Like
it did with a vast number of youths across this city of Liverpool,
and beyond, ‘The End’ had a major impact on my life.
Its influence was legion.
Through its essential ‘ins’ (Rik’s undies) and
‘outs’ (Tottenham’s goalie, bad knobend), via its reviews of
new local music (Half Man Half Biscuit!), the pub and club guide
(Daley’s Dandelion, anyone? Genesis Corner at Gatsby’s?), the
legendary letters page (half of which weren’t even made up), to
its staple – the articles – the end was a voice for everybody
who ever hung around the chippy in sub-zero temperatures, who
travelled away on the football ‘special’, who regularly failed
to cop off, who liked a laugh, and who wouldn’t be seen dead in a
shirt with a whopper collar.
1981 and 1986, it averaged about an issue a quarter, each one more
eagerly awaited than the last. Its
driving force was the aforementioned Hooton and his mate from
Cantril Farm, Phil Jones. Augmented
by a small team of contributors (Tony McLelland springs to mind) and
the stunningly brilliant cartoons of John Potter, it also marked the
written debut of author Kevin Sampson, whose seminal ‘Billy
Bull’ piece has, to this writer, never been bettered anywhere,
ever (essentially, it’s the story of Sampson working the summer
season in Llandudno in 1980, and his relationship with a complete
bullshitter of a kitchen porter).
Doubtless you will also recall ‘No-Mates’, and the
exploits of ‘Joe Wagg’. Hell,
I’m filling up just typing this, and I’m not on a dropsy,
despite my fawning. And how could I forget the poetry? ‘We all
love our Dingle, it’s got the fuckin’ lot’, and ‘it’s
alright Ace, I know St Peter’.
Sublime – stroll on Milton, or even Pam Ayres.
I don’t buy into the popular view that it spawned the era of
football fanzines, I’ve no doubt that regular writers to The
End’s letters page such as the Derby Lunatic Fringe, the Aberdeen
Casuals and The Lincoln Transit Elite, all ended up involved, in
someway, in the late 80’s boom in ‘underground’ footy mags.
Certainly, well known Everton fanzine ‘When Skies are
Grey’ has regularly cited the influence which The End brought to
bear within its pages (PO Box L69 7LE there, readers), and the
short-lived, but excellent, ‘What’s the Score’, was clearly
out of The End Stable.
you are too young to recall this halcyon age, and I’ve whetted
your appetite for sampling that legendary mag, then tough.
You’ve got more chance of blagging a first-edition copy of
the Dead Sea Scrolls than issue 2 of The End. Whilst we’ve all got
the odd one knocking around, someone, somewhere, must have a
pristine, archive set of back issues, just waiting to be
consolidated in a handy, nicely bound compendium, to be revealed to
a new generation of – get ready for this – ‘Scals’.
You can stick the Davinci Code up your arse – the search
for The End starts here.
note: copies of The End can be found at www.terraceretro.com