Big Bryan’s Bopping, Boogie Column

The 50th issue of Dial M For Merthyr, now that’s an achievement.

I turn 50 in August, now that’s a worry. Let me introduce myself I’m Bryan James. I was one of the original contributors to the fanzine, writing “Big Bryan’s Bopping Boogie Column” in which I reviewed music, gigs etc as well as writing some other stuff.

Sneaking into offices, using the photocopying machines and hand stapling the early issues was all great fun. It was the dawn of the fanzine. The age of ordinary people putting their opinions into print. It was exciting, liberating and sometimes it got us into hot water but it was never dull.

I became part of the Dial M For Merthyr football team that started off playing matches against other fanzines and then progressed onto playing in the Rhymney Valley Sunday Football League. I was NEVER a footballer. I was a rugby player who had an injury that stopped me playing at a young age. My primary role was to growl a lot at our opponents (and sometimes my team mates), to get in the way of the ball and, by my own admission, be as aggressive on the pitch as I was laid-back off it.
I must have been a nightmare to play with, I had no positional sense, the turning circle of an oil tanker and I was the only bloke in the team whose kit was made by Jacamo. To add to the lack of ability I also had as I mentioned before this slightly aggressive streak which had a habit of popping up, so much so at times that I was as likely to lose it with my team mates as I was with the opposition. But the lads to their eternal credit just shrugged their shoulders and accepted it.

But we were more than just a football team, we were mates. We lived in each other’s pockets, we supported each other as well as the football club. We drank together, we travelled together and we stuck together. We were never going to be the best side in the league but what we lacked in skill we made up for in togetherness and team spirit.

We toured and I got to meet some of the nicest people you could wish to meet from Glasgow, Peterborough, Leytonstone and a whole host of places. I would never have had the chance of meeting these great people if I wasn’t part of the Dial M set up.

The stories I could tell would fill a book not a fanzine. I had, looking back as an old codger, some fantastic times with some fantastic people. Sadly you lose touch as you grow older but I still think of those times with a great deal of happiness and warmth.

Dial M was more than a fanzine for me. It was an experience. It was a way of life.
Long may it continue. And to everyone I met through it and all the friends I made with it good health and good luck to you all.

It was a pleasure to be part of the set up.



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