Sad as it might sound, I was genuinely excited when ‘Hannibal’ from the House of Fun message board asked if I wanted a load of old Millwall fanzines that he was clearing out of his garage.
Yes I do, I replied. Especially when he told they were a mixture of original NOLUs and TLRs from the very earliest days of the fanzine scene at The Den. Unfortunately I am no collector of stuff like this myself. Indeed I have an annoying tendency to chuck things away, so old programmes and magazines tend to only exist in my ever-failing memory. Picture my little face then when, in amongst the familiar covers of TLR and (less so) No-One Likes us, I found two copied of a magazine that I never seen nor heard of – ‘Someone Likes Us’. Priced at just a quid too…
OK, I know that this doesn’t exactly compare with the famous Egyptologist Howard Carter opening up the tomb of Tutankhamen in 1922, but believe me when I say that finding ‘Someone Likes Us’ actually sent a little shiver down my neck [Ed – yes that is sad…].
Two magazines are all I have, but both contained well-written articles, some dodgy cartoons and some pretty-damn good photography. The April / May 1991 edition pictured has a truly fantastic and camp image of club physio of the day Peter Melville – looking like Cold Blow Lane’s answer to Alan Partridge – and a player stretched out on the massage table. No comment required. Inside we find a nicely worded article on centre-half David Thompson and an in-depth piece on the police security liaison Chief Inspector Dave Jordan. Both teamed with the afore-mentioned professional looking photography – something which I admire.
Within the second magazine, produced for the return home leg of the 1991 play-off semi-final against Brighton, there is a piece on the Millwall Lionesses, an interview with club secretary Graham Hortop over the proposed move to ‘Senegal Fields’ (and if you’re too young to know what that is, look around yourself today…) and a follow up article to an interview the magazine had held with chairman Reg Burr. Highly readable it all is too. A bit like stepping into a time machine and lurching back through 20 years of your life.
Where it does get intriguing though is in the editorial of the play-off edition. Entitled ‘Thanks’ the copy runs through the story so far of the 1990-91 season. Thanking the readers for their support, the club for its co-operation and the writers for producing such ‘brilliant articles’. The tone then takes something of a darker tone though – and it is worth quoting verbatim:
“There are of course two other magazines at The Den. It is not our intention to compete with them and we have a sensible arrangement with The Lion Roars lads. This worked very well last season [1989-90 I presume – the dating in the magazine is not always clear] when many of us were involved in starting ‘No One Likes Us’. Having three magazines on sale at once is an expensive pain in the arse, but unfortunately things have become a bit silly. The Scottish businessman who now runs No One Likes Us doesn’t believe that you should have a choice. When we should all be on the same side, he has turned a little friendly competition into a personal vendetta, resorting to smears and downright lies to discredit this magazine …’ (‘Someone Likes Us – play-off special 1991)
Wow. Strong stuff. Immediately of course I had to consult with the old NOLUs that I had been given to get the other side of the story. Well wouldn’t you want to read these smears and lies too? Come on, who wouldn’t? Now odd as it might sound given that I edited NOLU from 2009-12, I was always a bit more of a TLR man back in those days. Truth is, I never really liked the look, style nor if i am honest the tone of the old NOLU. And reading through the earliest editions I could see why. Even after nearly 22 years, I still found it awkward and harsh to no purpose. In edition 7 of NOLU, I found my answer in a piece entitled ‘Someone Likes Us’:
“When our last issue came out, you may remember that we had to sell against a new magazine, ‘Someone Likes Us’. As you can see from the poster they put around The Den, they pretended to be ‘No-One Likes Us’ and said that we had changed our name. We can promise you that the new magazine had nothing to do with us and we resent their lying to our readers to get money out of them under false pretences. No-One Likes Us disagrees with their policy of encouraging hooliganism; their pictures of tatooed muscular men and use of swear words made the magazine look like a Nazi propaganda leaflet and an incitement to violence; they threatened one of our sellers. We understand that it was originally to be called ‘The Treatment’ and such a warped idea brings embarrassment to Millwall FC and its supporters. The Southwark & Bermondsey News (October 11th) says it is published by a Norwich supporter, but perhaps National Front is nearer the mark. According to the News, you may have bought it thinking it was No-One Likes Us, so if you are annoyed about being lied to, we suggest you ask the publisher for your money back; you can phone or write to them. We don’t believe in ripping off Millwall fans off, so if you feel cheated but don’t expect to see your quid again, send us the copy of this rubbish you bought by mistake and we will mail you No-One Likes Us issue 6 with our compliments. We can have a nice bonfire with the ones you return.”
Blimey. Over the top or what. Discovering this long forgotten but obviously vehement in its time fanzine war felt a bit like listening in to someone else’s domestic argument. Compelling, yet ever-so-slightly shameful. Rather like a soap opera on TV, it offers the comforting opportunity to cheer your heroes and boo your villains at 20 years’ remove. All that I can say is that judging by the two 1991 copies of Someone Likes Us that I have seen, the magazine looked like exactly the kind of thing that I would have wanted to have read. Quite how I missed it probably bothers me more than the rights and wrongs of who did what all those years ago.
Both NOLU and TLR went on to take their places in Millwall and arguably national fanzine history. The emerging fan culture they developed has nowadays largely transferred itself over to the internet – and only a few eccentrics like yours truly continue to publish paper fanzines in the old style. Something that I believe though that should still have a place in the ever more corporate game. A matchday magazine for the fans and by the fans were what NOLU was and TLR still is. Long may we all continue. But having read the now-forgotten Someone Likes Us, I felt that this name and production deserves its moment in the sun too.
So if you are reading Stanley Knife, John McDermott, Caroline Hughes, Adrian Bhargava, ‘Phil’, Mark Yuill and Lucy McArry – well done. You produced a great looking and very readable Millwall magazine. One that deserves not to be forgotten. If it’s any consolation now, some 20 years too late perhaps, in the end ‘someone’ liked you. The Archbishop