Last Ever Issue Of The Mag
Almost 26 years ago The Mag was born, idle chat for once turned into action.
At the time I was working in local government and friend, work colleague and fellow Newcastle United fan, Chris Tait, showed me a magazine called When Saturday Comes (WSC).
It was an independent magazine that was written by fans about football, while WSC took all-comers in terms of articles on any aspect of world football, it also had listings at the back where it featured all of the UK football clubs that had fans producing a club based magazine.
Sunderland had one (Wise Men Say), Newcastle didn’t. How had this happened – surely there must be somebody who was doing it for themselves in the black & white corner…
I said to Mr.Tait ‘why don’t we have a go?’ and he looked at me (not for the first or last time…) like I was stupid, then walked away. A few days later he returned and it was now game on.
A bit like your car hitting black ice and going into a spectacular spin before crashing and rolling over several times before you somehow crawl out the windscreen unscathed…the first issue of The Mag rolled off the presses and was in our grubby hands, with neither Chris or myself being able to work out, or explain, how we’d managed it, starting with a collective experience of zero in terms of publishing magazines.
That first issue didn’t even have a number as that would have been a bit presumptuous in assuming that a No.1 would be followed by a No.2. If you have a copy tucked away then you will see it has August on the cover, rather than issue number.
So 288 more magazines later and you have this one in your hand, the very last issue we are publishing.
Sales of a paper magazine were unlikely to be on an upward trajectory but we were holding our own, only for events beyond our control to mean that publishing the magazine was no longer viable. The chief amongst these was very recent problems with distribution which meant that moving forward, the number of places The Mag would have been on sale at, would have been drastically reduced.
Sometime in the future this (a printed Mag coming to an end) would have happened organically but these outside factors have meant it has happened a lot quicker than we anticipated.
Dawning Of A New Era
However, the good news is that www.themag.co.uk has been an unbelievable success, bringing Newcastle fans up to the minute news, views and reporting. Everything from transfer nonsense right through to magazine size/quality articles, the big advantage of course being that on the website you can have something as topical as you want it to be. You write it and minutes later the whole world potentially can be reading it.
We also had a dilemma because at times people would write quality articles and we’d be left wondering whether to keep it back for the next magazine or publish straight away on the internet. Now of course we won’t have to make those difficult choices, you can see everything and it will cost you nothing.
Plus of course we are no longer constrained by space so the more contributions the better, send your articles to [email protected] and we’ll get you added to our writing team, or just drop an email if your want any guidance or need more info.
Of course while we are all moving on to a new era, there is so much to reflect on.
There have been literally hundreds of contributors over these 26 years, and while putting together this last ever issue, it has been really interesting to hear all the different current contributors’ thoughts on what The Mag has meant to them and what they pick out as highlights over the years. It’s not that we were doing something really useful like doctors saving lives, or brewing beer – but we have our place in the culture of Newcastle United and life on Tyneside in general.
Sadly there will be no doubt some of you who are totally resistant to getting your Newcastle United fix online but I really hope even that hardcore come around to the idea because we anticipate that what we will be offering just gets better and better on www.themag.co.uk and will tick all your boxes.
Those of us writing in The Mag over these years have been really lucky to support a ridiculous club that never fails to give you something to talk about.
We all lament the fact that we don’t win trophies but despite the past, present and no doubt future madness, I would still rather be supporting our team rather than simply choosing a club that wins things and thus never really experiencing those true highs and lows that comes with being involved with something/somebody you really care about.
Will Mike Ashley wake up before it is too late and steer the club away from disaster? Will he sell the club? Will he just let us slowly, or not so slowly, fall apart?
None of us have the answers but it won’t stop us talking about the trials and tribulations and hopefully help push the agenda in the right direction.
The years under Kevin Keegan showed us just what Newcastle United are capable of being. Yes you have the new challenge of mega rich people looking to subvert the level playing field of English football, as well as the advantages of those who have had Champions League riches financing their growth. However, a club like Newcastle United with a massive fanbase as the region’s club and the one city one club advantage, means we can be a club that grows organically into a monster success.
It simply needs the right people to care for and nurture it to help it grow and the supporters will do the rest. No guarantees of winning trophies but simply the club being allowed to be the very best it can be.
That is all we ask and it will happen one day.
All that remains is to say thank you to everybody who has been part of the journey; contributors, players and celebrities we’ve interviewed, journalists who have willingly given their time to be quizzed, those who have stuck stamps on and slipped magazines into brown envelopes, those who have printed the copies, shops who have stocked the magazine, sellers on matchdays braving the elements and of course everybody who has ever bought a single copy, oh yes – and even those of you who have stood and read this from cover to cover before sticking it back on the shelves of WH Smith’s but hopefully gone away and told somebody else about it.
I would like to name names but then you leave yourself open to the fatal mistake of forgetting somebody really obvious, so I’ll leave that particular door shut.
If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]