Nottingham football fanzines get new lease of life through Left Lion project

Brian was a Nottingham Forest fanzine first launched in 1988 by Julie Pritchard -Credit:Jared Wilson
Brian was a Nottingham Forest fanzine first launched in 1988 by Julie Pritchard -Credit:Jared Wilson

Two of Nottingham’s best-loved football fanzines have been given a new lease of life thanks to a project by the city’s cultural magazine, LeftLion. Every edition of Notts County’s ‘The Pie’ and Nottingham Forest’s ‘Brian’ have been digitally archived after a team went through the entire back issues of each publication.

With help from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and support from both the University of Nottingham and the British Library they are now available to read online for the very first time.

Older fans of both clubs will remember buying copies of both titles from fanzine sellers outside Meadow Lane and the City Ground in the pre-internet era when fans’ independent views of players, managers and their team’s performances were not as widely available or accessible as they are now, thanks to social media and podcasts.

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Written by the fans, for the fans and fiercely different to matchday programmes, fanzines often included humorous jibes at rival teams and even more barbed criticism at their own clubs, especially during, sadly all too frequently, spells without success for both clubs.

The Pie was a Notts County fanzine launched in 1987 and was run by a team which included then Selectadisc record shop manager Jim Cooke and current CAMRA Nottingham chairman Steve Westby. It ran over 87 copies until 2009 and was known to be one of the first football fanzines of its time.

Brian was a Nottingham Forest fanzine first launched in 1988 by Julie Pritchard. It ran over 50 issues until 1995 and its lifespan covered many notable moments for the Reds including two League Cup wins and the Hillsborough disaster. Brian Clough himself was even photographed with a copy.

Jim said: “In the 1980s when we first started The Pie, the majority of the media were giving football fans a negative image and portraying us all as hooligans. We just wanted to communicate with each other and show that we were ordinary decent people who loved our football club.

“Also most football matchday programmes were pretty bland and we thought we could liven things up a bit. It’s great to see our stuff to be out there to show people what the spirit of the time was and as it all pre-dates social media and the internet.

“It might also show what a physical effort it was to put an issue out as we all had full-time jobs and used whatever money we accumulated by selling The Pie to put back into the club.”

Julie said: “Fanzines became a key factor in clubs and media finally seeing football fans as human rather than yobs to be kettled and truncheoned. I started the Brian because no one else had done one.

Photo shows a collage of covers from the two football fanzines
Photo shows a collage of covers from the two football fanzines

“I'd been waiting ever since I first picked up some copies of 'When Saturday Comes' and 'Off The Ball' on a train back from Goodison in 1986, hoping that someone would want to write about the glorious enigma of Brian Rice and the correct pronunciation of Kjetil Osvald, but no one did. Then came the epic Cup run of 1988 and, inspired by the romance of Halifax, the bricks of Birmingham and that goal at Highbury, the Brian was born.

“After all this time it will be great to be leaving some sort of legacy other than in boxes in people's attics dying of rusty staple blight. We have a rich and diverse football fan culture in Nottingham and, with 'The Pie' involved too, the archive will allow folk to take a deep dive into the last great period of Nottingham football history.”

To celebrate, LeftLion is hosting an event this Thursday, May 23, at Metronome where three short documentary films will be shown. Two of these have been specially commissioned as part of the project and focus on The Pie and Brian.

You can view the archives online now at and