This evening I’d like to talk a little bit about the Imps fanzine, The Deranged Ferret. For younger people who don’t know the fanzine was usually sold outside the ground before kick off and it contained much Imps related criticism, wit and what would now pass as banter. I suppose it’s a bit like Lincoln City Banter, but only the funny people got to write articles. It was always balanced and had the club at heart, and throughout the nineties it circulated the terraces of Sincil Bank.
I first came across it sometime in 1993 as a 15 year old slowly emerging from that naïve world of a teenager and become world aware. The Ferret felt like it had an edge, it offered an alternative a often irreverent view of the club. I was into satirists like Jack Dee and Rob Newman and it’s tone as well as its insights had me hooked. It was pretty funny too. I’d usually hunt out a seller around the ground to pick up one of the three or four issues released during a season. This wasn’t where you got your transfer news or rumours, it was a place to take a light hearted look at the club on one page, and then lash out at the chairman the next.
I became involved around 2002 when Shane Clarke was editing it. I was only writing occasionally but it was great fun to cotribute. Writing for DF made you try and look at things in a different way, and it taught you to really appreciate the fun at Sincil Bank. I remember I wrote an article about Scott Willis in one copy which he read. It alluded to him being a thug from a family of thugs and deliberately committing a kung fu kick style foul against Cambridge. I’m told he enjoyed it although luckily I never actually spoke to him to find out.
I gave myself the title of Features Executive for the final editions as Shane suggested I had a title. I liked the ring it had, and I’d finally achieved a small dream to have my name in the credits of what I thought would be a Lincoln City institution for years to come. Then it just stopped.
I’m not sure the exact time Shane called it a day and it went to the wall, I’d say sometime in 2005. I’d contributed quite a bit of copy, but Shane hadn’t received anything from anyone else. Time passed and the internet began to take over, there was no more need for a printed publication when a thousand web pages could offer the same thing. Why pay £1 for a fanzine when you could get just as much opinion and people trying to be funny for free on your computer? I discussed editing a copy with a couple of mates but printing costs weren’t cheap and I had no disposable income to play with. DF disappeared.
The 12th Man group tried to re-launch it back in 2010 and we did a decent job. I edited two editions available as PDF only and sent out to 12th Man subscribers. I promised four but after delivering two with only a handful of contributions it became too much. I’m not going in to why I stopped writing about the club, but in mid 2010 things changed dramatically and I stopped editing the fanzine. Nobody wanted to take it over and to my knowledge only one copy was ever printed, by me as a keepsake.
Recently I was talking to my friend Rob (whom I’ve never met in person but in 2016 who needs to?) about an article he contributed to one of the digital copies. I promised to look it out and put it on here for him, which I did. I also read both PDF files from front to back and realised how much I enjoyed putting those together. Had it not been for me keeping them Rob might not have seen that article again. I read a few other bits too and it really took me back to that awful time around us losing our league status. There were a lot of angry people and one or two of them were happy to speak out.
Without the files I wouldn’t have been able to get that sense of the clubs culture and fans thoughts. Sure the internet would have been awash with it at the time, but now five years on those pages are long gone. I began to wonder if maybe the fanzine does still have a place in the football world?
I read a couple of my old copies of the Ferret from 1992 and my belief that a printed copy is invaluable for future generations of Imps fan was affirmed. Reading about Bressington, Hobson and Puttnam not being used enough at the end of Murphys reign was the sort of insight you don’t get from owning a programme from the era. Reading discussion about Alan Clarke and the future was fascinating too, because this was a journalist writing but proper rank and file Imps fans. This was how they felt in 1992, and without DF future generations simply may not have known.
I posted on Banter to see if a re-launch of DF would be popular and the response was mainly positive. A couple of people offered to have an advert in it as well, and now with a bit of disposable income myself perhaps it wouldn’t be so hard to get it off he ground.
So I have decided to launch the Ferret again and try and ensure we capture our feelings and analysis for future generations to come. The internet is full of great stuff but it is also bunged up with some absolute crap, and often to find the nuggets of wisdom and the truly amusing analysis you have to wade through hundreds of thoughts from moronic kids and ill informed armchair pundits that often make no sense. If I can get DF printed and out there perhaps I can filter some of that dross and leave you with something in your hand that is different to the internets offering, and something you can keep and read for generations, you know just so you can relive these glorious National League memories in a decades time.
Of course I won’t be doing this alone and that is where I’m turning to you. I’m appealing for anyone who may be interested in helping to get in touch. I’d like to form a loose collection of people who can not only contribute written stuff but maybe a few drawings, cartoons or even practical help like attracting a couple of advertisers? Maybe you’re willing to help sell it on a match day, or you can get it stocked in a couple of places in the city?
The email address to contact me on is firstname.lastname@example.org. Let me know if you agree it’s a good idea and if you want to be part of finally getting The Deranged Ferret, an integral part of terrace culture back into print after almost a decade.