A Mansfield Town fanzine is to be revived as a one-off this weekend to mark the first anniversary of the death of legendary Stags fan Chris Taylor.
Deja Vu will be published by its former editor, Michael Norwood, in tribute to Chris, who spent many years organising away travel for the supporters’ club before he passed away last year.
Deja Vu ran for 17 editions over six years from 1998 to the play-off final defeat by Huddersfield.
At that time football fanzines were all the rage, giving supporters a voice of their own, and every ground had mustard-keen fans stood outside in all weathers until near kick-off selling their latest photo-copied masterpieces.
The football fanzines were a natural progression of the fanzines that sprang up during the punk rock explosion in the late 70s and early 80s when the DIY ethic encouraged fans of the music to express their own views.
However, with the arrival of the age of social media and fans’ forums on the web, fanzines, like many printed products, quickly declined.
But Stags fans heading to Hartlepool United on Saturday on the specially-arranged Deja Vu coach will be treated to a limited edition copy of the fanzine with everyone else able to read it the ‘new-fangled way’, via a copy uploaded to the web afterwards.
Michael Norwood, 42, explained: “I was founder and editor of DejaVu for six years from 1998 to just after the play-off final defeat to Huddersfield in 2004, and looked after 16 issues.
“We did an issue just after the play-off defeat but took on a guest editor for one edition only.
“I have always kept some old copies of the fanzine, but never really thought about bringing it back at any point until now.
“Hearing about Chris’ sad passing last year really got me thinking how we could celebrate his hard work in running the away travel from Field Mill, and the one thing we had going during that time was the fanzine.
“So one morning I simply woke and thought that a one-off edition would be a perfect way of me saying thank you to him.
“He was such a big part of my Stags life from the moment I first stepped onto those away coaches.
“Chris inspired me in the first place to start up the fanzine, and helped along the way through various avenues. It was a clear choice to do a special edition in his memory.”
Michael has followed football for many years, kicking an early Nottingham Forest habit to support his local heroes.
“For my sins I followed Nottingham Forest in my early stages of life, until I was 16,” he said.
“My dad had dragged me kicking and screaming to the big smoke down the A60 for a time, until I saw the light and started to go to Field Mill, on my own at first.
“But there were plenty of like minded people travelling with Chris on the away coaches and we soon had our own ‘football family’.
“I am currently a pick controller for a logistics company and my job doesn’t always allow enough time to go to the Stags as much as I used to.
“I was travelling quite regular when Chris was running the travel, not missing many games for almost 14 years, but then started to pick and choose as I got older in life.”
Michael has fond memories of travelling up and down the country on Chris Taylor’s buses.
“I first met Chris back in November 1992 when I decided to travel alone to the Stags FA Cup tie at Shrewsbury,” he said.
“Little did I know that my first away game at a football match would end up on the evening news for all the wrong reasons with hooligans from both sides running amok in the town centre and a couple ended up in hospital.
“One of my great memories of Chris is him driving us to Plymouth on a Tuesday night and playing Def Leppard’s Greatest Hits on repeat all the way there and back.
“We let him off as he took it upon himself to drive a seven-seater as there wasn’t enough of us to fill a mini-bus, never mind a coach.”
With warm memories of those halycon days in his mind, Michael has fashioned a brand new Deja Vu laced with memories and newer stuff.
He smiled: “We have tried to create much of the childish humour which spoilt all the 17 issues we did previously, and of course it will be full of spelling mistakes, as is tradition with most fanzines, as we couldn’t find anyone to give up their evening to bother checking for mistakes.
“There is a look back on our recent trip to South Africa for the cricket, and of course there are quite a few references to Chris in the early part of the edition.
“It won’t be on sale, unfortunately,as the days of standing in the cold on Quarry Lane are long gone.
”This is a tribute to Chris and the fanzine is free to those going on our memorial day to Hartlepool, but we will make it available for free download in early April.”
Just seeing a new Stags fanzine will evoke many great memories of the satire and raw enthusiasm of an era gone by.
“Mansfield had three fanzines for part of our time in production, now we don’t have any - social media and forums have seen to that,” said Michael. “Even one of the long running zines for Manchester United have given up the ghost.
“It is good to see some popping back up in the form of a phone APP, but people now want views and blogs in an instant. The days people waited for fans’ views in print look to be well behind us.”
However, with inexperience in the law and what you could or couldn’t say in public, some fanzines found themselves the subject of legal action by clubs.
Michael said: “We were very nearly sued by Keith Haslam back in the day, and I was once on the end of a phone call from Keith Curle, asking me to nip to the ground to discuss an article I had written. Needless to say I declined.
“Also, once we were accused by the old board at the club of affecting programme sales so were asked to not sell anywhere near the ground, so trust was not easily earned.”
Michael is certainly enjoying his football right now under the management of Adam Murray.
“This season has been a lot more enjoyable of those of late with much more football on offer,” he said.
“Things had become quite stale under Paul Cox, but we should be eternally grateful of him getting us out of the conference, so shouldn’t be too critical.
“It’s a shame the play-off push looks like fizzling out but it bodes well for the next couple of seasons.”
The Deja Vu coach trip will return to the ground after the Hartlepool trip to all on board can raise a glass to Chris Taylor in the bar and finish reading their fanzine.
It is likely to be the last one ever made – but you never know.
“You can never say never, but the plan is for a truly a one off edition,” said Michael.
“I have no further plans to bring back a printed edition. A few people might get upset anyway with the content in this edition but I wanted a no holds barred feel.
“We have become too politically correct these days anyway, so I am not sure how long our humour would last in the present climate.
“We may do something else longer term, but we’ll see what reaction this edition gets before making any rash calls.”