"Buy The End, Lad" - How A Fanzine Changed My Life

In the early 1980's the thought of a fanzine about football, beer and music, written by scallies seemed like a peculiar vision, The End changed all that. Here's how discovering it changed Kevin Sampson's life...
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How many people can say that a fanzine changed their life? I can. Without a shadow of a doubt, if it hadn’t been for The End I wouldn’t have done half the things I ended up doing. That doesn’t just go for work, although the punk/commie/streetwise nous exhibited by Peter Hooton, Phil Jones, Tony Mac and Mick Potter in getting The End out there was definitely an inspiration when it came to starting and persevering with the writing. More than that though, The End had a philosophy that anyone can do anything - whether it’s getting into an F.A Cup Final without a ticket or talking your way into an interview with the guitarist/songwriter of the greatest band in the world - and that’s an attitude I drank down by the pintful, for better or for…well, just for better to be truthful.

For a fanzine with no marketing, no PR, not even a regular publication date, The End’s influence was uncanny. The letters page only hinted at the magazine’s reach, with devotees writing in from Doncaster to Derby, Perth Australia to Perth in Scotland, Boston USA to Boston Lincolnshire - not to mention Her Majesty’s Pleasure, Durham, temporary residence of one of The End’s finest correspondents. The mag got everywhere and its winning mix of humour, social comment, cartoons, street life, music, and football culture gave The End admirers and imitators far and wide.

For a fanzine with no marketing, no PR, not even a regular publication date, The End’s influence was uncanny.

I’d been familiar with a bearded ruffian called Mick Potter for some time before he started shaking us down for End sales. Myself and a few pals – Chris Lyttle, Kevin McHugh, Lee and John Byrne and the sadly departed Paul Sundve used to drink in The Star & Garter in town before heading off to places like The Harrington Bar, Brady’s, Lincoln’s Inn and The Warehouse, and it was a nap you’d witness the Potter roadshow somewhere along the way. Stumbling into the alehouse with an armful of fanzines he’d thrust out his telescopic chin, fix his eyes on whichever part of your face he could focus on and utter the timeless offer/threat of:

“Buy The End, lad.”

The first time we bought one, Lyttle asked him what it was about and Potter went into his BBC Anthropologist mode:

“What’s it about? What’s it about? It’s about you. D’you want one or what?”

It was an offer we couldn’t refuse. That was Issue Number 3 and I immediately set about tracking down the first two. It was brilliant, just the sort of thing you wanted to read if you were 20 and into the sort of things that 20 year-olds are into. Which other magazine would give you an exclusive interview with The Clash and a psycho-social study on people who avoid getting the ale in, in the same exuberant tome? The following week we were in The Sandon and in came Potter again. He loomed over us, held up the mag and before he could go into his fearsome sales patter I said:

“I bought it last week…”

“I know that”, he said. “I just thought you might want another.”

It was one of them where you had to laugh. I began to go cold-turkey if a new edition of The End didn’t appear within 6 weeks. When, mercy of mercies, a new issue hit the streets I’d devour every word, poem and drawing, laughing at the characters and anecdotes. Some of these have passed into folklore – Billy Bull, No Mates and Teds of various hues originate from the pages of The End. Many a Svengali has borrowed from this august publication, most without acknowledging their inspiration, so it’s good that the magazine is belatedly getting the recognition it so richly deserves. 30 years on, The End still stands out for its originality, wit and wisdom. I doff my (tweed, Greenwoods, £9.99) cap and thank you all.

The End is now stocked in these shops...

Waterstones: Liverpool Bold St, Liverpool 1, Ormskirk, Chester, Birkenhead, Southport.

HMV: Liverpool South Street, London Oxford Circus

News From Nowhere, Liverpool

Pritchards, Crosby

Hat, Scarf or Badge, Liverpool

Ran, Bold St Liverpool

Hairy Records, Liverpool

Jumbo Records, Leeds

Oi Polloi, Manchester

Garbstore, London

Superdenim, York

Shed, Ashton Under Lyne

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The End: Every Front Cover Of The Legendary Fanzine

Remembering Liverpool Fan John Peel

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