When Skies are Grey was the first Everton fanzine. Inauspiciously, the then Editor Chris Collins, chose the Simod Cup game against Millwall in December 1988 to unleash the fanzine on the unsuspecting Evertonian public. A game which has gone down in history as Everton’s lowest ever attendance. Despite that, the issue quickly sold out on the night and that first  issue has become something of a collector’s item.

Back in the late 1980’s football fanzines were a national force. In the pre-internet days when supporter’s views were largely ignored by the mainstream media, independent magazines produced by fans quickly became very popular.

In truth, Evertonians were a little slow to catch the ‘fanzine bug’ and it took Collins, based in Porthmadog, to be the first. A second, Blue Wail, based in Crosby if I remember correctly, appeared a few weeks later but that was short-lived.

WSAG quickly became established. Within half a dozen issues it was selling a few thousand of copies outside the ground. I’m sure if you visited to Goodison Park during this time you will have been well aware of the bellowed shouts of WSAG sellers outside St Luke’s Church and elsewhere.

I’m sure you’ve bought the odd copy or two. At least you must have wondered what the hell those soakin’ wet lads were selling.

The early issues were produced on borrowed typewriters and stuck together with glue. Len Capeling of the Daily Post described it as looking like they had been put together by a “vicar on speed”. I think that was a compliment.

As time progressed the typing got better, the pages got glossier but the fanzine always reminded a

magazine written by and for Evertonians. It talks about, it cares about the things you do. It is the authentic voice of a diehard Blue. With loads of swearing too.

WSAG is an Everton thing. No one else quite understands.

Chris Collins handed the editorial duties to Graham Ennis in 1990 and he, alongside Phil Redmond (no, not that Phil Redmond) has produced the magazine ever since.

WSAG produced 175 paper copies of the magazine, many of them selling out their print-runs, between 1988 and 2013. During this time it was a match-day staple for many people. It continued to feature the views of supporters and was always happy to let them say what they wanted to say in language they wanted to use without the fear of censorship or editorialising. No one has ever counted how many different people have contributed articles to WSAG but it must be almost a thousand. It is loved by Evertonians and genuinely one of the most popular and well respected fanzines in the country.

There was much upset when at the end of 2012/13 season the magazine decided to cease paper production and move to a digital only magazine. But it has proved a success. Readers can now view WSAG on a tablet, a mobile or a PC. It’s still a magazine, it is still recognisably WSAG. It’s bigger, brighter and better. There are more pages, more colour and more contributors.

It is also more up-to-date. If you previously subscribed to WSAG you will know that the wait for the postie to bring your copy could stretch for days – or weeks in respect of our readers in Australia, Canada and USA.

This was a major frustration. The new digital issues are delivered electronically throughout the world at the same time.

While the fanzine thrives in the present, it is important to acknowledge the past. The demand for old issues has been a constant and from there the idea of producing a ‘Best Of’ was born.

And that’s where we are now.

‘IS THAT THE PROGRAMME: THE BEST OF WSAG VOLUME ONE (1988-2002) is coming soon. The book will feature original articles from the first 99 issues of WSAG. That means Ray Kirwan’s Laugh Along With The Loveable Reds, the late Frank McConville and many, many more you’ll remember. We’ve already mapped out loads of great pieces from loads of different writers all who contributed so there’s a fair chance that if you sent something in to WSAG in the early days, it will be featured.

The books will be approximately 300 pages and will cost £20.

We really want to make this happen so please help us by supporting this project. Therefore we’ve chosen to set up a campaign similar to that employed by kickstarter or Pledge to help us raise the significant sums of money to publish the books. It’s a very expensive business but we want to have total control of the books so that means to us we have to do it ourselves.

This is perfect time for us as the end of the season and the summer approaches. Freed from producing monthly magazines we will have a bit of time on our hands so are going to make significant progress in bringing both these projects to life. The expected publication date is Christmas.

But none of this can happen without your support. As stated, our intention is to run this by offering pre-sales of the book and adding various options which people can include if they so wish. This is very similar to kick-starter or pledge music.

The options are:

BOOK ONLY – £20.00

PACKAGE A  – SUPPORTER – £25.00

You will receive a numbered edition with your name listed as one of the supporters of the project. We will even sign it for you if that’s what you want.

PACKAGE B  – POSTER £30.00

In addition to the book you will receive a specially commissioned ToffeeArt poster. With the ‘Best Of’ book it will be a poster featuring some of the best WSAG covers from the first hundred issues (yes, it will include the Emlyn Hughes one).

PACKAGE C  – SUPPORTER PLUS £35.00

Includes the numbered edition book as detailed in Package A and the poster detailed in Package B.

PACKAGE D – PARTY £30.00

In addition to the book you will receive an invite to the launch party for the book.  We haven’t got any firm ideas yet but it will be definitely more than a few drinks and a bag of crisps. We may have a WSAG night out, or we might put a few bands on. We’re not sure. But whatever it is and whatever it ends up being it will only cost those who pre-order a tenner.

PACKAGE E – SUPPORTER PARTY £35.00

Includes the numbered edition as detailed in Package A and the invitation detailed in Package D.

PACKAGE F – SUPPORTER MAX £45.00

This is everything. The numbered edition book as detailed in Package A, the poster and the invitation to the launch.

Alongside the first book we are developing a second one The second book called ‘EVERTON, MY DAD & ME’. We are very excited about this one. The book will be a collection of stories and personal memories about the relationship between a parent and a child going to watch our beloved club.

There are thousands of us who support this great club of ours because of our Dads and there’s always been so much to treasure as a result of the connection between family and Everton.  We are aiming to capture that within the pages of this book which promises to be both heart-warming and emotional.

We have already some great stories written by both WSAG contributors and people from other Evertonian sites and magazines. We are also hoping to confirm others who have noteworthy tales to tell. But we are looking for more. So, if you’ve got a tale which you believe fits the book please get in touch. Email whenskiesaregrey@btinternet.com with a brief outline of your  story.

All the pieces in the book will be new. We’ve already got stories about grandads, mums and uncles so we’re not sticking rigidly to the concept of ‘Dad’!

Again we would hope to raise funds for the book via a similar campaign detailed above.

 The options are:

BOOK ONLY – £20.00

PACKAGE A  – SUPPORTER – £25.00

You will receive a numbered edition with your name listed as one of the supporters of the project. We will even sign it for you if that’s what you want.

PACKAGE B  – POSTER £30.00

In addition to the book you will receive a specially commissioned ToffeeArt poster. The poster for the ‘Dad’ book will be along the lines of the ‘My First Match’ posters seen here http://www.toffeeart.co.uk/product/my-first-match-personalised-souvenir-unframed-print-only/

PACKAGE C  – SUPPORTER PLUS £35.00

Includes the numbered edition book as detailed in Package A and the poster detailed in Package B.

PACKAGE D – PARTY £30.00

In addition to the book you will receive an invite to the launch party for the book.  We haven’t got any firm ideas yet but it will be definitely more than a few drinks and a bag of crisps. We may have a WSAG night out, or we might put a few bands on. We’re not sure. But whatever it is and whatever it ends up being it will only cost those who pre-order a tenner.

PACKAGE E – SUPPORTER PARTY £35.00

Includes the numbered edition as detailed in Package A and the invitation detailed in Package D.

PACKAGE F – SUPPORTER MAX £45.00

This is everything. The numbered edition book as detailed in Package A, the poster and the invitation to the launch.

The packages are available immediately from

http://wsagfanzine.bigcartel.com

Buyers and supporters will be kept informed of the progress of the project via regular newsletters.

We are also aware that, in addition to the above, some people have expressed the wish to donate to the project to help it reach its goals that bit quicker. This is very generous and we would ask that anyone who feels they can add a little extra to contact us first at whenskiesaregrey@btinternet.com

If further information is required please contact Graham Ennis at whenskiesaregrey@btinternet.com

Thanks

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