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    Is it really 25 years (nearly)?  

      by Dave Wiggins

October 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.


So 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. 


If 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. 


Between 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.


Whilst 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. 


If 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. 

Editors note: copies of The End can be found at www.terraceretro.com







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