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Hmmm. If you're one of the people to whom I've said 'Have you got Issue 5', or alternatively, if you're one of the people who has actually looked at TheEcho Archive, you may have noticed that, until now, Issue 5 has been noticeable by it's, er, absence.

However, I've recently followed up a few leads, and manaaged to find a secret cache of Echo back issues, and contained within was the much sought after missing issue. I realise to many of you this won't be news as it was featured in both The Guardian and on Radio 5 Live, but suffice to say, that issue has now safely been returned to The Archive where it will be preserved for future generations.

Shame then that it's crap.

Fair enough. The cover has the photo that many remember as the highpoint of that first 8 issues. In the aftermath of the football bungs scandal, news that I was seen handing an envelope to Jock, with the word 'CASH' scrawled over it was bound to have an impact. The fact that this became sonehow linked with the controversial transfer of Shearer from Jock's team to my team managed to turn it into our own little bung scandal.

We really had to make an effort when we wrote CASH on that envelope, cos as mentioned previously, the videoconferencing PC was not too hot at picking out detail.

That said, this, and the layout, and the jokes are the best things about this issue.

It's back to A5 after the A4 madness of the previous two issues, but even so, it's a whopping 16 pages.

Page 2 contains the, by now, traditional editorial and contents, and page 3 has the review of the Cup competitions so far.

The next two pages have a review of the league from February, covering the loss of Jon Allen, the resurgent Fillongley Clots (sorry, colts) and, er, the Shearer thing. Simon by now led the league by 77 points.

There's a two page look at the Debutants, followed by Titty's classy interview.

Simon Says, on the next two pages, goes on about the rules, tells me to stop moaning about the reserve prices, and then mentions the Shearer kerfuffle. And then I refute it. This Shearer transfer was providing me with plenty of material !

There's then two pages of pure filler. There's two cartoons about Jurgen Klinsmann that I nicked from a Sheffield Wednesday fanzine. There's a Top 10 rundown of the dodgiest Passjams League haircuts, which was really just a dig at Simes, and there's a stop press on the latest week of league 'action'.

Then, before we get to the back page gossip and stuff, we've got two pages of letters, from, among others, Helena Bonham Carter, Rick Parry (of the Premier League), Eric Cantona, and Allan Taylor. Even more bizarre than this is the fact that I didn't have to make any of these up ! People were really starting to send letters to The Echo ! Very confusing.

Oh, and on the back page, as well, as the gossip, there's an advert for the new Juliana Hatfield single, which had the net effect of making nobody rush out and buy it. Not the most successful advertising campaign ever then. No wonder her record label dropped her.

In a fit of creativity, this issue is dated 4th March, and Issue 6 came out on March 26th. Although I may just have been trying to get back on schedule after the A4 issue 4 was a bit late.


'In the other game, Andy was livid with rage at the game's postponement. His team had the furthest to travel, and the game was called off one minute before kick off. 'It's bloody appalling' he stormed. 'When I was a lad, they used to play football in four inches of snow. Now they get a little bit of rain and they call the game off. The game's run by soft bastards and I think it's worse off for it.' Simon remained, as always, his isual dignified calm self, refusing to comment on the issues. he preferred to let his players do the talking, and two weeks later , they surprised nobody be giving Goshbite something of a beating.'

More made up guotes, but a class pay off.

'It's hard for me to be objective about this deal, seeing as I'm involved, but, for what it's worth, I really don't see what all the fuss is about. Every other manager would have signed him if they could have done, so why they should call me names down the phone is beyond me.'

My reasoned view on the Shearer controversy. Conveniently forgetting that we prepared a press release announcing the deal, and we saved it as SCAM.DOC

'The article SIMON SAYS from your new columnist Simon Webb was a trifle hard to swallow. Is it just me or do I sense a tinge of unreality and dare one say it, jealousy, in his rather hastily put together work.'

Actually Allan, it is just you, and in proof, we offer.....

What's the hardest part of your job?

Being in on a power down.

What would your advice be to a trainee?

Never sign a 6 month contract. Always go for 1 year.

How would you describe working for Royal?

Different.

Do you have a motto that you live your life by?

When Andy's on shift, keep the tea flowing.