25 years of Dial M For Merthyr Fanzine
I was actually there when he came up with the name. It was Walsall v's Sunderland in '88 and we were talking with the Editor of the new Sunderland Fanzine, Wise Men Say..
'So, what's your called then?' Asked the Mackem...
'Dial M for Merthyr' replied Wolvesy.
The guy laughed. I laughed.
He turned to me and said, 'I just made that up'.
'It's good mate. Not sure how many people on the Wank Bank will be aware of Hitchcock's brilliant suspense masterpiece but it's better than my idea for the name'.
(I was all for 'You sexy Merthyr F*ckers' as Prince was big with the song at the time).
And so that was it, 'Dial M for Merthyr' was born. The rest, as they say, is a mystery...
The one thing about
Mark Evans is that he's
a born leader. It's true. He may get 'all shucks' about it but his legacy is
astonishing. I'd never be doing what I'm doing now if it wasn't for Mark (or
Wolvesy as he's universally known). Always an encourager. Always positive.
Never jealous, he's one of those handful of people you meet in life that makes
you instantly think you can do or achieve anything. Without him I honestly
believe there'd be no football team in Merthyr and hundreds of people's lives
simply wouldn't be as rich or interesting as they are now. The fanzine, you
see, wasn't just a fanzine, it was a way of life. There were trips, football
teams, nights out, political groups, ant-racist meetings, inter fanzine cup
competitions and of course, above everything, Dial M for Merthyr.
I loved writing for that magazine. You have to remember how young we all were too. I was 16 when it was starting and obsessed with music, fashion and football. We'd spent the whole decade cooped up in our grey comprehensives being told we'd be lucky if we'd even get on a YTS. Our horizons were very small. In fact lots of the other fans’ were too. We'd eat conservatively (I didn't have a Chinese meal until I was 18, that was Wolvesy and Hulbert!), maybe go on holiday once a year (if you were lucky it would be abroad). Go to
Christmas, but other than that it was a pretty mundane existence. Going to the
football changed all that. Suddenly after a lifetime of getting by, keeping my
head down, listening to music in my bedroom, there were other lads out there
just like you. Now, there is a romanticising of it all. Thousands of Scousers
and Mancs flicking their wedges to Joy Division whilst reading Salinger. It's a
lot of nonsense. What actually happened was a handful of lads gravitated
towards one another and started to tentatively do their own thing. One of which
was to write a fanzine. Cardiff
Football was still 90% full of the average fan. Lots of so called 'casuals' were just there for the fighting. The same boring bullies who we'd spent a lifetime avoiding in school. Everything was about how 'hard' someone was. Who fuckin cares? I used to think, what about The Stone Roses? How good are they? You've only got read a few of the 'hooligan' books to get an idea of the life style of many...'Me, Big Lez,
always one called Lager isn't there?)
and Kebab Bob faced down 45,000 of them and ran them, me knocking out 15,895
personally'...incredibly boring beyond belief. And most of it nonsense. Believe
you me, when there a load of lads, unless you're Mike Tyson and Bruce Lee's
bastard love child you are going to get a hiding. No, what Wolvesy talked to us
about was writing, reading, listening to music, travelling...bettering
yourself. Indeed, after a life time of being told you were shite by a
succession of teachers here was someone a bit older, that we all looked up to
telling us (sometimes screaming at us) that we could do this! And he was
A few years ago I read about James Connolly turning on a Working Class lad who boasted he couldn't read. Connolly humiliated the man. Saying that's exactly the ignorant attitude those in charge want. But he also said, that he would meet the man every night and teach him how to write. And it made me think of Wolvesy. Him badgering us for articles and money for trips. Saying, he wanted it now. So we could go see
Telling us the articles were brilliant and people loved them. Then giving me a
copy of a book by an Irish writer called 'Roddy Doyle' he'd discovered or a
writing fanzine called 'Rebel Inc' with a guy called Irvine Welsh. And that
he'd wanna talk to me about it next time we met. So I'd read it. Devour it to
be honest and then I'd be back talking to him. And he'd say there was a play
about it called Trainspotting and that him and Jonny Guard were off to see it.
A play mind. This was a guy from Trefechan. And I asked nervously if I could go
to one. And he barked at me (in that way he does) 'Of course you fuckin can.
I'm off to see a Behan one next month'. And now, nearing 40 years of age I
loved him for it. Because he made this magazine with the sheer force of his big
personality. Even now, 20 years later, he emails and asks for an article and I
think..'Where's my computer?'. And when you see the reaction from lads like
Nick who started WTBF and Chris Collins who did the Everton fanzine 'When Skies
are Grey' you can see the respect he's got. And all that started in his house
in Trefechan 20 years ago. That little office cum front room he had, with
everything divided up neatly and all those hours he spent photo coping and getting
photo's. The Herculean effort from his Father Dave and close friends like Rob
Parker, Brian, Hulby, Guardy and Mick. Ireland
They were our heroes. Still are to me. Really now, I can't speak highly enough of these lads. We were pain in the arse kids really. Full of snot and attitude and they put up with us. Encouraged us and showed us the world. I mean they even had a car for God's sake!! Before I knew it I'd be in Middlesbrough to watch a match and make it back in time for school! My old man shouting in my ears that it's ridiculous to walk in at seven in the morning and go straight to school. The weird thing was I only looked about 12, so I'd be constantly lurking at the back of pubs with them, thrown out as soon as seen by the barmen. Hanging outside waiting till they finished their drink, and boy could they all drink.
Dial M was born out of all this. The desire to do something. To make a statement. To say 'We are here, this is us!' And it was because of Wolvesy this happened. We all know he's gone on to be brilliantly successful in the Welsh FA, but when it all started he was on the dole. A classic example of the kind of talent that was just pushed aside during that awful decade. Well unlike others he refused to lie down. Refused to take the easy way out and disappear. That isn't Wolvesy's style. He was the one in front of us all going...this way boys, and fuckin hurry up. Then a little clip to the back of the head if you messed about. Dial M was always voted one of the best fanzine's. It was honest, brave but most of all funny. It captured the spirit of the times perfectly. I love the old issues. They are like the early days of Punk. Full of attitude but with a big heart. A bit like the guy who began it all really.........
THE TAFFY FOX