7pm December 2nd 2016

Ditto, 4 Benyon Rd, London, N1 5TY

RSVP to whosegameisit@gmail.com

Ditto presents a documentary screening of ‘Whose Game Is It Anyway?’

An exhibition of football fanzines will accompany the film, displaying zines from the late 1980s that explore the politicisation of football fans and the impact that the publications have had on the way football fans are viewed.

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‘Whose Game Is It Anyway?’ charts the genesis of the football fanzine movement and follows two fanzine editors coming to terms with today’s corporate football reality. Both of their fanzines emerged in the wake of one of British football’s darkest years. In the space of a few months that saw 56 killed in a fire at Bradford City, mass brawls between Millwall and Luton fans, and finally the Heysel disaster – it seemed that everything that could go wrong with the game that year did.

The Thatcher government’s response was to treat football fans in much the same way as the Miners -considering them as part of ‘the enemy within’, with an unprecedented and controversial style of aggressive policing implemented to combat this ‘disease’. Over the following four years the media, police and government alike increasingly vilified fans, equating football fandom with hooliganism and violence.

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The fan’s response to this demonisation came in early 1986, in the form of fanzines – DIY documents full of grassroots content, often printed at home or after hours on a work photocopier. Publications like ‘Off the Ball’ & ‘When Saturday Comes’ led the way, with disgruntled fans – tired of being portrayed as hooligans and enduring dangerous spectating conditions – rallying others to organise and unite,setting aside tribal differences and sharing experiences.

Emerging from the DIY punk culture of the late 70s these fanzines covered the issues that affected fans – serving as an ad-hoc defence of the average football supporter, with articles discussing not only the beautiful game but also – perhaps more importantly – all the difficulties the fans experienced outside of those 90 minutes. At a time when the media and government considered fans as simple thugs, the zines championed progressive and anti-racist values.

From only a handful existing in 1986, the phenomenon spread rapidly, with over 300 fanzines in existence by 1989 – almost every club in the country having one. This was fans uniting for the first time – not firms staging pitched battles, not the National Front taking over terraces, but ordinary football supporters speaking up against the way the game was going. An underground movement was born.

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As football clubs become less and less attached to their area and supporters, the fanzine shows the frustrations and passion that come with dedicating yourself to your club, serving as a unique and indelible supporter’s history. The fanzine is the love for your club & the game down on paper. They reflect the togetherness, the obsession, the minor detail, the passion that gives the game all it’s value.

If we are to galvanise any mass movement against today’s sterilised corporate football climate, where the fan is still so often an after-thought then the values that the fanzine movement created should be at its core.

Get yourself along to see the film at

7pm December 2nd 2016

Ditto, 4 Benyon Rd, London, N1 5TY

RSVP to whosegameisit@gmail.com

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