Paper, Scissors, Glue
After 2 issues of Talking Bull produced at relative expense and at a relative decent quality a number of us involved had a discussion about whether to continue. It couldn't carry on losing money, we had better things to spend our hard earned pennies on.
As Elaine and I lived (and still do) in the comparative metropolitan sophistication of Cardiff rather than Hereford, we found somewhere (in the university) where they would photocopy TB for a relative pittance.
That meant getting someone to type all the articles, no email back then, a friend's wife did this for us for a few quid, and then laying all the articles on the floor and cutting and glueing them into a suitable running order.
We would then take these 'templates' to be photocopied. I can't remember the rates, but it was extremely competitive and it only took a few issues to recoup the money lost on the opening 2 issues.
The finished copies would then be laid out on a table ... or back on the living room floor ... and put together, folded and stapled. On one or two occasions this was done in the Social Club on the morning of a match by a small group of pressed volunteers. If your copy had staples halfway across one of the pages rather than on the spine it was probably because one of those volunteers wanted to spend his or her pre-match having a pint or two (didn't we all!) and was not concentrating on what they were doing.
That first season, 89-90, was an exciting one and 10 issues were produced. 8 'normal' ones and 2 cup specials; firstly, the Man Utd FA Cup tie when we could, and perhaps should, have changed history, dumped them out of the cup and cost Fergie his job and, secondly, for our Welsh Cup Final win at the Arms Park. These early issues were pretty low quality, photos in particular were barely legible, though some of the articles were decent (plenty were utter drivel) and Talking Bull started to get a reputation as a good read .... if you could decipher the actual text!
We weren't quite so productive in terms of number of issues in future years and the production quality slowly improved, as we moved from photocopiers to using a printer again, but it never seemed an important factor. What was important was the quality of the writing, and while that varied immensely, each issue normally contained enough to make a decent read. There was also a gradual increase in the size of issues, we had a number of issues with 64 pages ..... a far cry from the first flimsy editions back in 1989.
The improvement was due to the immense amount of material we were receiving. We had a hard core of reliable, literate writers who provided a steady stream of all sorts of material, from serious comment on what was happening (or not) at Edgar Street, to amusing cartoons, to essays on one fan's regular trips to visit all the Scottish League grounds (this one used to really divide people, some loved it, some hated it). Often though, despite the good humour in many articles, putting an issue together was depressing work as one article after another reflected the difficult times at Edgar Street. Other than that first season, under the eccentric leadership of Ian Bowyer (pictured) - we still only finished 17th in Division 4 - being a Hereford United supporter was one long depressing grind - with a brief respite in 1996 during our charge to the play offs .... we even brought out an extra issue as, for once, we were inundated with happy articles (the legendary Kiddie Whites excepted) and editing a fanzine became (albeit, all too fleeting) a pleasurable experience.
The following year, of course, brought relegation, which while good news for Talking Bull in terms of copy, meant more doom and gloom. The early Conference years were challenging, some of it was good fun, but many supporters only kept going out of a sense of duty (if we didn't there might not be a club) and continuing Talking Bull felt like part of that sense of duty. There were arguments between supporters, on a couple of occasions it got nasty with court action being threatened .... the last of which was at least partly the editors fault for not closely checking submitted articles, perhaps a sign of our lack of enjoyment. Once the dust settled on those issues Elaine and I felt it was time to finish our commitment to producing several issues of Talking Bull every season. We announced this two issues before the end of our second Conference season hoping that someone would come forward and indulged ourselves a little with our final issue, number 64, containing some of our favourite articles from the previous 10 seasons.
Thankfully, Peter Povall and Keith Hall picked up the baton and the next issue of Talking Bull appeared the following summer ..... with far higher production quality than we ever aspired to. Congratulations to them on completing the century, despite what appeared to be an attack of the nervous nineties.
It's great that TB is able to continue on the web. There are already several outlets for supporters on the internet, but this should become another popular one.
The fanzine culture gave supporters a voice and web sites have continued this tradition. Football club chairman aren't always keen and, frankly, that's no bad thing.
As our Chairman / Manager said on the steps of the town hall recently this is 'our club' so good luck, and long may our supporters have a voice.