The second in our H2H fanzine series from Rob Dand, features Tony Jordan discussing the #TUFC ‘Mission Impossible’ Fanzine:
TJ – I don’t seem, to have any copies of “Mission Impossible”. I’m rather unsentimental and gave the last copies away some time ago. I gather that James Mitchell boasts a complete set of 10, which I dimly recall spanned two years from 1988 to 1990.
MI rode the coat-tails of a wave of football fanzine mania in this period. Prior to the late 1980s there had been a few fanzines, but within a few years every club had one or more fanzines. In my view, the beauty of these publications is that they came and went very quickly. The explosion of fanzines reflected a “fight back” against the actions of the government and football authorities into the poor treatment of fans.
In the 1980s there was a very ineffective parliamentary opposition to a harsh and authoritarian government and this vacuum was filled in part by taking a cheeky swipe at authority. That said, fans did find their voice through this movement and through advocates like Rogan Taylor. Within a few years conditions improved. Prior to MI, I’d written satirical articles for the Student Union newspaper at University and was heavily influenced by Private Eye.
When I started MI I had enough material and ideas for about 10 issues and then I called it a day. This was partly because of growing work commitments but also the fact that after Mike Bateson took over Torquay United, the club became beyond satire.
I can recall typing articles on a typewriter, cutting them to shape, mounting them on card and running them through the copier at work, stapling and folding them. All very low-tech.
I can also remember falling out with my Dad over an admittedly puerile swipe at manager Dave Smith. My Dad withdrew his fanzine selling services in protest. Oh, the irony.
I was also quite surprised at how much interest is generated from supporters of other teams and I mailed out many fanzines to strange places including Dundee Daft Dave who was in prison in Scotland.
In hindsight I was perhaps a bit exclusive and didn’t always run content provided by would-be contributors because I wanted to place the emphasis on quality. This meant hard work for me and this is one reason why I knew it couldn’t be sustained. I’m not an exclusive sort of person at all, so this was out of character but this was perhaps my vanity project?
I look back on MI with a mixture of pride for being the first and sadness for not being able to sustain it for longer. But as I recall Bamber’s Right Foot soon appeared as its slicker replacement.
At that time Fanzines were still supposed to be a little “underground”, so that for example you could only buy fanzines about particular bands if you attended their gigs. It was similar with football fanzines to begin with and not very many had sophisticated subscriber lists or mail order facilities. So myself and a group of friends sold Mission Impossible outside the turnstiles and I think we sold around 250 in its heyday, which was actually pretty good at a time when attendances were around 2500. A bit of a novelty effect at work, I suspect, I recall that Ellacombe News stocked a few copies for me through a work colleague connection.
I didn’t get into trouble with the club. I included articles that challenged the club’s stance on certain matters, but I do not recall it asking for anyone to be sacked or anyone to sell up. The style was more to lampoon and mock, than to pour vitriol. Can there be anything worse if you are in charge of anything than to be laughed at? Or maybe the mood may have just reflected the on-pitch fortunes that were good at the time – we had reached the play offs and also a Wembley final in the then Freight Rover Trophy. Both glorious failures of course.
I can understand why fanzines get into trouble with their club and some fanzines have done great work to lift the lid on some awful mis-management in the face of oppression. MI was never confronted with a big issue like a takeover or a move of stadium where it must be hard not to be sucked into campaigning mode.