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Beginning of The End

Angie Sammons on the 1980s fanzine that's a sold-out book after just one week

Written by . Published on November 16th 2011.

Beginning of The End

IF we define nostalgia as a yearning to travel back, then anyone who was in Liverpool, at the time, will not be too surprised if the rocket ship zapping into its past does not linger at Planet 1980s.

It is the oversized dying star that is the 1960s - the Cavern and the Iron Door - which continues to envelop the Mersey mists of time – at least if you look through the viewfinder of our tourism mandarins and our local radio and newspapers.

Its authors didn't dress like the cast
of Brideshead Revisited. Instead, they
tied their Adidas laces, looked at you
hard and gleefully took the piss

Apart from the Eric's blip, it has always been thus. And so that star will faintly pulse until all who remember it, like the last fighting Tommy, are no more.

3Click to enlarge
But back to the 1980s. If you had just left school, Liverpool was no wondrous place. The city had stuck two fingers up at Thatcher and had been left to repent with leisure.

And yet for the utterly clued up who didn't have two pennies to rub together, there was no other town to be.

There are plenty of people still living to tell the tale. But among those who chronicled it are Phil Jones and Peter Hooton who brought us The End: the first fanzine to combine football and music, paving the way for Viz, championed by John Peel and inspiring Brown and his lad-mag culture a few short years later.

Now every edition of The End has been bound together and published as one loaded volume.

8Click to enlargeIn fact, ex-Loaded editor James Brown's Sabotage Times has taken the gamble, which is already paying off. The £20 compendium thumped onto the shelves only a week ago and is already as rare as hens' teeth. At an initial print run of 1,000 it could well become a collectors' item and provide a tidy little profit for its founders who ran it from a corpy house in Steerscroft, Cantril Farm.

The End was what you went and spent 25p on after you had cashed your Giro. If you were a girl or boy in the know, you also picked up Merseysound and Breakout at the same time, from Probe or 69A.

All these music publications had their devotees, but then they had rich pickings as subject matter. The first was blessed with great writers, like our own John D Hodgkinson, and it acted as a showcase for the work of young photographers like Gary Lornie, Francesco Mellina and John Stoddart.

No, The End was different. Its band of authors weren't in the trendy Armadillo/Pickwicks/Cafe Berlin loop. Nor were they after the WH Smith shilling, like the out-of-town ex-students who ran Next 14.

They most certainly didn't dress like the cast of Brideshead Revisited. Instead, they tied their Adidas laces, looked at you hard and gleefully took the piss.

Peter Hooton, frontman with The Farm, claims he got the idea after travelling around Europe with his beloved Reds and also becoming part of The Clash's entourage in Paris. He came back with the idea for a fanzine that combined his two passions and talked Jones into it after “plying him with drink ”.

Flicking through the book, it's interesting to observe how The End's confidence grew over time. They weren't in it for the money, that's for sure (a quarter page ad was a tenner), and yet its following was huge.

The End reflected everything in a city that was, as ever, living on its wit and its wits.

Click to enlargeTopical times in 1983The In's (sic) and Out's (sic) column was the first page you turned to, designed to confuse the style conscious. For example, In: “Pierced Eyelids” and “Mad cats that attack mad poodles that attack mad staffs”. Out: “The Armadillo staff” and “The Echo Leisure Guide”. 

Then there was the championing of those bands that generally didn't get a look in (Come In Tokio, Cook The Books, Afraid of Mice), who remained outside the foppish fold of “beauts”. It was the other side of the Pool and anyone who dared come from beyond the M57 was jeered as a "wool".

As time went on it got kudos. Massively, massively long transcriptions of interviews filled the pages with the likes of the "millionaire" pop star Pete Wylie. When it was Alan Bleasdale's turn, 11 of them turned up. “Bloody hell, have you brought a football team?” he said. 

“Yeah, and you're getting the ale in,” they replied, which he did.

Click to enlargeKenny the Warehouse bouncerThen there were the irreverent, hugely politically incorrect reviews. One, about the old Macmillans club, in Concert Square, which was frequented by a mixed gay-straight clientèle, has Phil Jones holding his hands over his eyes when I quote bits from the original, unexpurgated facsimile.

Oh God, they would never do it now, he says, older and wiser.

“We admit we were - certainly I was - young foolish and immature. I haven't even re-read it at all due to my fears of seeing that exact type of thing. I cringe just thinking about it. But we decided to release it, warts and all," he says.

"I would hope that people would still be irreverent, and slightly offensive - but, as we said, times have changed and certain terminology is, rightly so, not accepted now."

It's one of those books where you "had to be there", and reading The End again after 25 years, as many a hitting-50 dad is going to be this Christmas, reminds me of every nuance of my teen life away from town. It's a time capsule that it's been interesting revisiting, but I don't want to hang about too long.

The Grants get in on the acrThe Grants get in on the actNevertheless, Billy Bull's column and curious one-off features such as a double page spread on Bootle dogs still raise a smile. They weren't remotely slick pieces. They were littered with typos and spelling mistakes. But that wasn't the point.

I bought my volume,  it was seemingly impossible to extract a review copy from the publishers.

That's not how journalism works but, in the spirit of the subject, that's not how The End worked either.

Follow Angie Sammons @twangeee on Twitter 

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11 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousNovember 16th 2011.

May I say this is a quality piece of writing.

The End was a messy fanzine and a lot of it was unreadable but I still have every one turning yellow - a bit like me!

It was good that the Armadillo/Paleys/Wild Swans crowd had a foil and it was good that there was something to address the rest of the music and footy loving people in the city back in the day. I suspect the folk who frequent Leaf and the Shipping Forecast would be terrorized by such a publication today. Nice work.


AnonymousNovember 16th 2011.

Hear, hear, excellent piece. As usual puts other local media in the shade.

AnonymousNovember 16th 2011.

Pity the publishers couldn't cough up a copy for the author of far and away the best piece written on the subject.

Star dudeNovember 21st 2011.

The bands that they championed have disappeared without trace. Was it all a waste of time I wonder

Death AboveNovember 29th 2011.

You'd have to be as facile as the authors to buy this pathetic book. Why? Because unlike the 'Beauts', the very Liverpool punks and post-punk individuals The End fanzine ridiculed, so called scally 'culture' is non-creative and entirely based on fear, the fear of appearing different or having opinons different from the gang (and in The End's case different from Hooten and Jones). OK, all wear deerstalkers made by this brand, now all wear Henri Lloyd and Burberry. Oh my God! You Knob! You are not wearing Henri Lloyd and Burberry! Now, all go buy pit-bull terriers, now all put one hand down the front of your track suit pants and rummage around. There were plenty of 16 year olds attending Erics back in 1976 so crowing about following The Clash in Paris a full five years after the war was fought simply illustrates who missed the bus. The Clash thrived DESPITE scallies not because of them. Stop re-writing history you ******* Beauts!

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 15th 2014.


AnonymousJanuary 27th 2012.

Agreed. All this 'Had to be Forest Hills' trabs bollocks... Why? Be true to yourself, don't glorify the herd mentality juvenile nonsense. Even sadder when it's 40somethings banging on about insignicant labels from their youth, like it's the most meaningful thing in the world. Narrow minded rubbish you should've grown out of years ago, or better still not wasted your time with in the first place. Terrible writing in The End, too.

John DaleyApril 30th 2013.

Does anyone know where or how to get hold if come in tokios famous peel sessions. Please help.

Star dudeMay 1st 2013.

I wouldn't mind finding ours either

John DaleyMay 1st 2013.

Who is yours star ?

AnonymousJanuary 15th 2014.

John Daley.. The Come In Tokio Peel session is available on their Facebook page and Soundcloud

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