Introducing is a new feature on Box To Box looking at a handpicked selection of magazines, fanzines, websites, blogs, teams and individuals who produce great quality content on football and football culture.
In our latest feature we speak to David Marples of Bandy and Shinty, a high end quarterly football magazine which focuses on the fortunes and history of my club, Nottingham Forest.
Created following the club’s 150 year anniversary the magazine has been a source of great comfort in what has been a pretty bleak time to support Forest, providing us with some much needed some nostalgia for the glory days of Clough and the mid 90s, as well as some good pieces on the club’s recent troubles.
The magazine is available to order here and I would urge anyone with in an interest in Forest to take a look.
Tell us a little about yourself.
David Marples: My name is David Marples and each day I spend a moment contemplating the fact that I am not in my thirties anymore. I reside in the footballing hotbed that is south Lincolnshire – a place called Stamford which has a football team named after an obese chap from history. For a living, I work with young people teaching them to write about, amongst other things, football.
To someone who hasn’t heard of it, how would you describe Bandy and Shinty in one sentence?
DM: A high end quarterly football magazine for anyone with a passing interest in Nottingham Forest and football in general, in which you’ll find the work of some seriously talented writers and artists.
What is the story behind the creation of Bandy and Shinty?
DM: Despite our underwhelming status as a middling Championship side, Nottingham Forest seems to be blessed with a number of good and talented folk who like to write or draw (or sometimes both) about the club. As the 2015/16 season drew to a close, four of us got together and started talking about a potential new writing project. We had all enjoyed writing for our own sites and we really felt that although the football had been pretty dreadful one silver lining had appeared; the quality of writing that’s blossomed from it—from financial stuff, to think-pieces, to interviews. We met up after the final match of the previous season and came up with Bandy and Shinty.
We weren’t interested in creating a news resource. It’s not about transfer whispers, or why three holding midfielders in the last game didn’t work. We wanted to create something more transcendent than that; something you could pick up seven months down the line, for the same impact.
So we started approaching the people whose work, writing and attitudes we admire: people with the style, intelligence and experience to put things down on paper that are worth saying, and worth hearing. It turned out that there was an enormous amount of passion and goodwill for Nottingham Forest out there and we have been fortunate enough to tap into some of that to bring to the table something we believe Forest fans will enjoy and hopefully in time treasure.
We are a year down the line and preparing to inflict Issue Five on the world. It’s gone fantastically well – so well that we feel confident enough to offer a subscription package. Frankly, we’ve been blown away by how well it’s been received by a whole range of people.
One thing we’re good at on Trentside is holding a grudge. For instance, my Dad still dislikes Newcastle for their antics in ’74 and I’m still not over Warnock’s Sheffield United beating us in the playoffs in 2003. Apart from Derby are they any sides you consider proper rivals or just plain dislike for historical reasons?
DM: A good grudge deserves to be cultivated and nurtured – good on him. Hailing from Rotherham, I am well on board with that particular vendetta against that mob from Sheffield.
We’re a weird club when it comes to rivals. I am currently in the process of eliciting opinions from various Notts County fans for a piece in Issue Five on the state of the relationship between Forest and County. County’s fans’ opinions vary from pretty hostile to no hard feelings whatsoever. Having not grown up in Nottingham, I kind of like County and wish them well.
The Leicester thing is increasingly odd too. Sure, we are both East Midlands clubs and certainly aren’t best buddies but they really do hate us more than we care for them and rather amusingly, to calmly and rationally explain this to a Leicester fan only serves to make them angrier.
As for myself, the more I interact with fans of different clubs while working on various things, I find it harder to bring myself to wish ill on other clubs. Having said that, I don’t care for clubs at which we’ve invariably been hammered away from home in exceedingly cold conditions so take a bow, Burnley and Oldham. Also, any club whose ground I have not visited that comes up from the National League to take the place of a club whose ground I have visited. Such clubs play havoc with my ‘grounds visited’ map.
It’s been another busy summer at the City Ground with Evangelos Marinakis finally completing his takeover of the club following Fawaz Al-Hasawi’s disastrous spell at the club. Does his slightly questionable history concern you or are you just pleased to be rid of Fawaz?
DM: Definitely the latter – the damage he has done during his tenure cannot be underestimated and I’m not just referring to events on the pitch here. At this point, I am just mightily relieved that he didn’t manage to totally disillusion everyone from supporting the club. Season tickets have soared since he sold the club, suggesting that the damage to our reputation isn’t irreversible.
Regarding the new owner, it isn’t hard to put out the obligatory statement upon taking over a club and ticking all the bingo boxes entitled big club, great history, investment, loyal fans and so forth. But Marinakis didn’t just tick the boxes, he coloured them in using a beautiful array of colours without going over the lines. Furthermore, he has appointed seemingly very good people into previously unfilled posts, cut season ticket prices and perhaps more significantly, not promised the world, all of which points towards the club being run in a professional and dignified manner.
For the moment, we are grateful for this.
One of the few bright sparks at Forest recently has been the academy set-up with a number of players breaking into the first team. Most notably Ollie Burke (who later moved on for big money) and Ben Brereton (who will likely move for big money soon as well). Are there any other academy players you can see making a big impact next season?
DM: None whatsoever. Move along now. Nothing to see here. They’re all rubbish anyway.
Oh, alright then. Joe Worrall is earning himself a very decent reputation, especially since he captained the England under 20s squad to victory at the Toulon Tournament this summer. One suspects there is still more to come from Matty Cash too. It shouldn’t be forgotten that Ben Osborn is still young (and an academy product) even though it seems like he’s been playing for ages now.
Beyond that, players like Anel Ahmedhodzic, Alex Lacovitti and Tyler Walker will be looking to add to their first team appearances while Toby Edser, Ryan Yates and the marvellously monikered Choz Charlesworth will be looking to make their first appearances.
The work done by the academy staff – Gary Brazil and Jack Lester – has kept out collective chins up in recent years. There were times last season when we fielded six academy players in the first team – this can only be good for both theirs and the club’s development.
What is the unique ‘selling point’ of your project?
DM: Firstly, we’re collectable. People (ok then, specifically men of a certain age and demographic) are completists and like to have nice looking things on the shelf for display.
Secondly, beyond the surface, we are so very fortunate to be able to draw upon a seemingly bottomless pit of talented writers and artists. We seem to have the respect of folks associated with the club – be it in an official capacity or from fans. If submissions don’t excite us or interest us, they don’t make the cut.
Finally, our content doesn’t become obsolete or irrelevant after two weeks or even two years. We don’t claim to be ‘current’ and recent results don’t determine or drive content. You could pick out a piece from any issue in three years’ time and it will still be a bloody good read.
Out of everything you have done through Bandy and Shinty so far, what are you most proud of/what has been your most enjoyable moment?
DM: In general terms, we are very proud that some very good and important people have trusted us enough to speak to us either in interview form or by helping us out with contacts, advice and such like. Sitting down with and speaking to important and respected people associated with the club makes our hearts swell. At the risk of sounding like I’m pitching a sale, we have some huge names included in Issue Five too.
From a personal perspective, when someone approaches me in a pub to buy a copy and they say nice things, this is what really gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.
In terms of most enjoyable, there was a moment in the pub after the emotional torture device that was the final game of the season against Ipswich. Victory meant survival and we shared an impromptu hug when we
reconvened in the sweltering beer garden. It was four-fifths relief that our club had survived and one-fifth joy at having got to the end of the season and produced four issues, which have all been warmly received.
That was nice.
Your excellent Issue 3 focused on some of the cult heroes at Forest who perhaps didn’t get the credit they deserved outside of the club. Is there anybody in particular you think should have got more credit?
DM: Ian Bowyer springs readily to mind. That man was there in the 70s when we were woeful and played in the middle of the park up until the mid-80s, helping and advising the youngsters that would constitute Clough’s second great team – the late 80s team. John McGovern too – you don’t get to play that many times for Clough and not be doing something very right indeed.
From the excellent mid 90s side, players like Ian Woan and Colin Cooper never quite got the recognition they deserved. In more recent years, anyone who’s managed to string more than ten consecutive games without getting injured, rotated or sold deserves dollops of respect since the churn of players has been unrelenting.
What next for Bandy and Shinty?
DM: As stated above, we are now offering a season’s subscription and there are some exciting plans for merchandise in the pipeline – badges, t-shirts and mugs.
With each issue, we get more ambitious in our content and are looking to go beyond well-crafted nostalgia pieces. Alongside that, we have some pretty ambitious targets for interviews too.
But we like to keep our feet on the ground and we’ll take it one issue at a time. We’ll prepare thoroughly for each one and ensure we leave everything out there in the pages. There are no easy issues in this game.
Do you remember what made you first fall in love with football, could you pin point it to a single moment?
DM: To be honest, I don’t think there is a specific moment. I guess I was quite fortunate to see players like Nigel Clough, Neil Webb and Stuart Pearce string passes together from back to front in my youth and took so much pleasure from watching this team play the Brian Clough way. That’s the thing with us Forest fans – it always comes back to Brian and we make no apologies for it. He is a monolith for our club and most Forest fans will tell you that Brian played a role in their formative relationship with football.
Out of all the football websites, magazines and fanzines out there, what are your personal favourites?
DM: It’s a hugely exciting time for print football publications out there. Naturally, I enjoy The Blizzard and its influence on Bandy and Shinty is obvious. It’s a lovely, blind coincidence that Nutmeg started out the same time as us since we both owe a debt to The Blizzard in terms of style – the influence of The Blizzard cannot be underestimated as it showed us that there is indeed a market for long form pieces.
The old school fanzine survives too and some pieces from Viva Rovers and Dial M for Merthyr have definitely raised a smile in the last year or so. The Football Pink offers a staggering amount of good quality pieces and I also enjoy the more hard-hitting and angry Stand. Mundial is particularly exciting for me as it successfully marries humour, insight, interviews, fluff and design.
In terms of websites, The Guardian is my go-to website each morning and evening. The Set Pieces publishes some very thoughtful stuff as does Football365 which provides the humour and knowledge that I try to pass off as my own.
If someone wanted to collaborate with you at Bandy and Shinty, how would you suggest they went about it?
DM: Send us an email outlining your idea for a piece and a sample paragraph or so. Of course, I’d suggest they read an issue before hand so they can get a feel for what we’re about.
To someone wanting to start up a similar project to yours, what would be your words of advice?
DM: 1. Don’t do it on your own – it won’t work and there’s too much to do.
2. Do your sums. It is very easy to end up out of pocket if you’re not careful.
3. Think about what kind of publication you are. The ones I outlined above from Stand to Mundial are very aware of who they are, what they’re about and what kind of person buys their product.
4. Don’t let it come in the way of enjoying your football, otherwise you’ll resent doing it. We don’t sell copies before every game – only on the days of the games closest to our publishing date. We don’t want to be stood on the corner of a street in the pissing rain shouting at passers-by, begging them to buy a copy; we’d rather be in the pub.
5. Think about the above points and then do it.