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Fanzine Interview - City 'Til I Cry.

As promised, here is the second installment of the fanzine interviews, and up today is Tom Ritchie from 'City Til I Cry'. Take it away...

Bitter and Blue: How long has City Til I Cry been up and running?

City Til I Cry: We started on the first day of the season in 1999 when we played Blackpool at home in the old third division days. Ah, how I miss those times!

B&B: Why did you decide to set a fanzine up in the first place?

CTIC: A reaction to the relegation from the old second division, almost an act of defiance, and also me and a few mates had previously written for King of theKippax and Electric Blue/Blueprint (as well as quite a few others!) and we'd always fancied doing one of our own. We thought we'd do a couple of issues, and here we are 64 issues later!

B&B: How much work is involved in producing each issue?

CTIC: Blimmin' loads! As the editor I have to put it all together and in the early days I did a fair bit of the writing as well. Nowadays I do less writing, as we've built up a fair few quality contributors over the years, and I think it's better to have a wider view than just mine - even though my view is always right!

B&B: Do you see yourself in competition with other City fanzines, or more running alongside one another?

CTIC: I always felt we were complementary to one another, that we should be supportive of each other and see the fanzines as a common bond between various fans. In reality we are all sensitive and protective of our own fanzines so while we aren't in a fanzine war, like previous times, we all go our own way. The good thing is that all City fanzines are different and so cover most fans interests. Each of them has their own character and thatshould always be encouraged.

B&B: What is the best, and worst aspect of producing a fanzine?

CTIC: The best thing is actually selling a copy. You feel that all the work hasbeen worth it when someone forks out £1.50 to buy something you have lovingly put together. That's the only real recognition that matters. It's not a profit-thing, it's that people enjoy what you do enough to actually spend money on it. I also love that I've gathered up a fair few excellent contributors over the years, who have blended magnificently into the culture of the fanzine and what we are trying to do. The worst? Cold, rain, being left with a box of fanzines unsold. Sportspages welching on the payments. "Is that the programme" comments and some fans seemingly blaming you for the performance on the pitch!

B&B: Do fanzines have the power to be able to influence goings on at a footballclub?

CTIC: I naively believed that at one time, but I realised a long time back that we are the equivalent of tomorrow's chip paper. At best we can create a climate for change, but the power resides with the club, via the board, the manager and the players. We are irrelevant to the workings of them. No matter how much we kid ourselves that we have a "say". We can start as many campaigns as we like, but if the board don't listen then there is little we can do. It's the same as Fans Committee meetings; me and other fanzine editors have been banging our heads for years hoping the club would listen to us, but instead they use selective memory as to what they hear! Maybe 'influence' is a good word, as we can nibble at the edges and make things uncomfortable for them at times. But we have little real power in all honesty.

B&B: Where do you see the City Til I Cry heading in the future?

CTIC: Adapt or Die? Then I think we'll die. We'll do this so long as Blues buy it, or until we get so fed up we can't be bothered anymore. Whichever comes first. I'd like to get to 100 issues and see then. But I still believe that there is an undercurrent of support at City that likes fanzines and wants them to stay traditional. I think fanzines have to become less about football and more about the culture of football supporting. And this is a policy we will continue to pursue.

B&B: With the increase in websites, forums and blogs etc, do you think the fanzine still has a role to play in the culture of football?

CTIC: Yes. But fanzines have to change to compete. We can't do match reports anymore as that is done to death on the web-pages, maybe fanzines have to become more like 'scandal sheets' and dish the dirt to a greater extent!

B&B: Onto footballing matters, what are your thoughts on how City have done so far this season?

CTIC: As well as could be expected. I feared the worst at the stat of the season, as the sale of SWP and the lack of investment had me thinking thoughts of another relegation battle. Fortunately that hasn't happened... yet! I don't think we'll go down and I don't think we'll qualify for Europe. Mid-table mediocrity beckons for the next couple of years I think. The manager has done well, as has the youth and reserve set-up, but yet again it's the board that have failed us. And that's been the case for about as long as I've been a City fan!

B&B: What would you see as a success for City this season?

CTIC: Top half, a good cup run (semi's?) and the Intertoto at the end of it! Also clear out the wasters and develop the kids. Bring in quality rather than quantity and be prepared for a long-term development of the club over th next three years or so.

B&B: How do you evaluate how Pearce has done so far during his time in charge?

CTIC: Superb. Still learning. Makes mistakes. But, for me he's as safe as houses for at least the next two seasons as we couldn't afford to replace him. Maybe he has to improve his coaching team, though.

B&B: What areas do you see as needing strengthening during the transfer window, and who would you like to see brought in?

CTIC: A big, daft centre forward should be the priority. Ashton is too pricey, so maybe Heskey or Rasziak. Also a decent footballing midfielder - Murphy or Dunn perhaps? Maybe even Jarosik or Sidwell. Malbranque would be brilliant, but I doubt if that's a runner. We also need a left back, but it's not a priority until next summer. And if I could be completely cynical, could I suggest that I'll be very surprised if we spend any decent money at all this transfer window.

There is also now a link under 'MCFC links' on the right-hand side to contact or subscribe to City Till I Cry directly.