You’d think that there would already be a website which deals solely with these magazines, wouldn’t you? Yes, I did too, but I was wrong – there isn’t (other than a Facebook site, but I don’t “do” Facebook). Or, at least, there wasn’t, because now you’re looking at the only one to specialise in “FOOTBALL LEAGUE REVIEW” magazine in all its various incarnations. 🙂
But what, precisely, are we talking about here? Well, for those of us of a certain age, this little magazine was a splash of colour in amongst the usually plain and dull football programmes of the mid-1960s to the late 1970s. It was usually given away free in the home programmes of clubs, generally on a Saturday unless your game fell midweek when you’d find it on a Tuesday or Wednesday – this being the BS days (Before SKY) there were no games on stupid days like Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays or Sundays unless it was a festive fixture. It was usually – but not always – stapled into the centre of your programme and although it always declared a value of 4d, 1 shilling, or 5p, it never actually cost you that because it was free in the programme and you couldn’t buy them separately. And even then, not every club carried them, so you could have been unlucky and not received them at all! 😮
Starting out in 1965 under the name “SOCCER REVIEW” it was a 16-page publication with no colour other than the cover header and perhaps the odd block of – the same! – colour on a few of the pages. In all honesty it was a poor quality production, but nevertheless it was of great interest to fans as it was not parochial and cast its net far wider than just the home club. Interest in the magazine blossomed meaning that more and more clubs began to include it, and by the second season it had already changed its name to “FOOTBALL LEAGUE REVIEW”. It continued to be produced on cheap quality paper although by Volume 2 (1967/68) we had started to see glossy covers and glossy centre pages featuring team groups and star players, many of which still command a decent price on eBay these days. The real problem for collectors began in Volume 3 when the back page could be had with two different advertising designs throughout the season, a precursor to later issues which substituted individual player photos within issues of the same number. Then Volume 4 threw up the strange system of numbering starting with an “A” through to “D” before then moving to “1”, “2”, etc., and even then all of this was only visible if you looked very carefully at the back cover!
But all good things must come to an end, and by season’s end 1974/75 “LEAGUE FOOTBALL” – as it was then called – had run its course and was consigned to history and nostalgic collectors.
There was a brief renaissance through “NATIONWIDE REVIEW” during the seasons 1996/97 and 1997/98 but this was very short-lived. There were only nine glossy issues in Volume 1; the magazine started late (8th March 1997) and there is a surprising lack of player and team photos although you’ll no doubt be thrilled to learn that there are fan photographs galore. Gone also were the magnificent full page colour picture spreads of players and team groups too. The old cynic in me might go so far as to suggest that the publishers didn’t have to pay any rights or fees for fan photos…
Whilst it did at least start at the beginning of the season, 1997/98’s Volume 2 comprised magazines of only eight glossy pages deep (bar one – issue 2 contained sixteen), much of which was advertising material; it was barely worth the effort to print them.
This website, then, presents for you all the necessary details as to the contents of these little magazines. I aim to show you the covers, the teams, the star players, and to highlight all the contents of each and every one. I’ll give you whatever I can so that you will have a really good idea as to what is in each issue. Ultimately it should be a searchable resource where you can look for pictures and articles featuring players of YOUR club simply by using the ‘Search’ facility in the sidebar. And at this point I should acknowledge the work done by Ian Hine on his Seagulls Programmes website, which is not only a veritable cornucopia of Brighton & Hove Albion memorabilia, but also offers a comprehensive look at these magazines, and it is there where I will be sourcing 99% of my pictures simply because I can’t see any point in my scanning the magazines when they’ve already been done! The only occasions when I will produce my own is when I come across poor quality images but, to be fair, it doesn’t look as though Ian has many of those at all.
So without further ado, I’ll let you crack on and enjoy the fruits of my labours. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments or corrections to make – I have provided a contact page for precisely that purpose. 😉