The start of Oldham Athletic’s 2019/20 season will be a landmark for two Latics supporters now in their 60’s. Thirty years ago, Pete Mason and Harry Crompton launched the club’s fanzine ‘Beyond the Boundary’ at a pre-season friendly against Banik Ostrava at Boundary Park.
Football fanzines were a 1980’s phenomenon which saw most clubs have one or even more publications, written by fans.
The fanzine provided Latics fans with a chance to air their views on the club, swap good-humoured banter about rival teams and reminisce about games and players from Latics’ glory days in the 1970s.
For Pete and Harry who were to be joined by Brian Green the following season, producing a magazine on a regular basis was something that neither of them had much experience in. “We purchased a typewriter which had seen better days for £5” said Pete “Then we pretty much guessed at how to prepare the pages for printing. We were lucky in getting help from Oldham Resource and Information Centre who gave us a brief introduction to printing and after that, we were on our own.
Printing the fanzine proved to be just the start of what was to become a time consuming, but ultimately worthwhile experience. “The week before we launched the fanzine, we had to collate it, fold it and staple each copy. There were some very late nights” said Harry.
Without the advantage of any official launch, both Pete and Harry struggled on that first day of selling outside the ground. “I guess most people didn’t know what a fanzine was” Pete said “but word got around during the game and before long we were planning issue two with only a handful of the first issue remaining”
The appearance of Beyond the Boundary coincided with the most successful period in Oldham’s history which saw them reach the Littlewood’s Cup Final and face Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final. “We can’t take credit for that” said Harry “but the increase in supporters certainly helped spread the word”.
Pete, whose flat in Werneth served as the fanzine’s HQ soon realised how popular BTB had become by the amount of mail he received weekly. “I’d expected a decent response” he said “but at times we were knocked out by the amount and quality of the articles we received. It wasn’t all serious, in fact some of it was downright bizarre but Latics fans lapped it up”.
The club kept the fanzine at arm’s length but one or two players regularly bought a copy just to see if they’d been mentioned!
The increased workload eventually resulted in the purchase of a word processor and the services of a professional printer and at the height of Oldham’s success in the newly formed Premier League, each issue of ‘BTB’ was eagerly awaited.
There was a cartoon strip, ‘Dufflecoat Dan the Latics fan’, regular and guest writers, match reports and detailed stories of past games played in some of football’s furthest outposts. Latics exiles abroad became subscribers and the fanzine was posted to Mali, Hong Kong, Australia and Canada.
All good things come to an end however and with the arrival of the Internet and instant opinions via smartphones, the era of the fanzine slowly disappeared. The last issue of Beyond the Boundary hit the streets in April 2005 with just Pete remaining as the main contributor. “I decided that issue 100 was going to be the last one and, in the end, it wasn’t a difficult decision. There are still a few issues available on eBay if anybody wants to find one”. Pete, Harry and Brian remain keen Latics fans with Pete still writing about the club for ‘The Football Manc Cave’