The first ever Football magazine in the world was......
If by first ever Football magazine we mean how as we define them today; exclusive to football, colour printed photographs, glossy paper, national not regional, articles not a comic or a newspaper, then the worlds first ever monthly Football magazine was Charles Buchan's Football Monthly in September 1951.
In Charles Buchan's autobiography, which he worked on in the late 1940's, he commented that there was still no "weekly bible of the game". Other sports related colour magazines were around such as Sporting World but they were not football specific and the ones that were did not have the colour that the mass selling women's magazines featured.
So he launched Charles Buchan's Football Monthly in September 1951, OK so the first issue had one small article on boxing and the colour photographs were hand tinted but the world had its first modern style football magazine.
Amazingly with so many major publishing houses around he launched independently as Charles Buchan's Publications Ltd based at 408 The Strand, London WC2.
According to Mike Hayes who seems to be one of the few living people who worked with Charles Buchan in the early days was that it all went wrong in 1957.Charles Buchan's Publications published a book called "BUS STOP" featuring Marilyn Monroe.
Mike continues, " They thought it would sell millions, but it turned out to be a complete flop, because there were NO pictures of sexy Marilyn in the book, and it only sold a little more then 200 copies, which made us broke. So in desperation the distributors of Football Monthly bought us out, so in January 1958, us six, moved into a new building No. 161/166 Fleet Street EC4."
The distributors of Football Monthly since January 1955 were Hultons a publisher famous for the Picture Post and the Eagle comic. In 1959 Odhams Press Ltd took over Hultons and rebranded Hultons as Longacre Press. (A subsidiary of Odhams)
Odhams you will remember was one of the fore runners of colour printing so it was a good business deal for them.
The United Kingdom's largest newspaper publisher, the Mirror Group, acquired Odhams Press Ltd, Amalgamated Press and George Newnes during the period from 1958 to 1961.
In 1963, the International Publishing Corporation Ltd. was formed as a holding company for the Mirror Group. In addition to owning and operating 29 printing companies, IPC Ltd. produced three London daily newspapers, several journals and hundreds of magazines including Charles Buchan's Football Monthly. Knowing this, it becomes very clear why Charles Buchan's Football Monthly suddenly started publishing adverts for a large range of other magazines such as the NME, Disc and Go magazine.
Longacre Press had retained their name as a subsidiary of IPC and it was under this name that in August 1968 they started Goal magazine. By issue 31 IPC Business Press Ltd were on the masthead of both Goal and Charles Buchan's Football Monthly.
The Goal launch was edited by Alan Hughes working from 161-166 Fleet Street, London.
Charles Buchan's Football Monthly was being edited from this same address and the two magazines were each other's main competition and were both owned by the same company, the International Publishing Corporation Ltd.
Goal magazine was launched at the Savoy in August 1968 with a "bevy of dolly birds" and IPC presumably wanted it to be a more savvy version of its older brother. With weekly deadlines Goal also appeared more current and by 1970 Goal was outselling Charles Buchan's Football Monthly.
Bizarrely IPC had also launched Shoot magazine, a football comic on exactly the same day as Goal (16 August 1969) and by 1971 both Shoot and Goal had 220,000 weekly sales each and Charles Buchan's Football Monthly was in decline with 164,000.
Both Charles Buchan's Football Monthly and Goal continued until June 1974 when IPC decided to close both magazines in the same month. (Goal was officially incorporated into Shoot on June 15th)
Goal had run for 296 weekly issues and Charles Buchan's Football Monthly had run for 274 monthly issues. In the last issue it stated:
"There are many factors, which have forced this unhappy decision, not least of which has been the tremendous increase in the last few months of paper, printing and distribution costs. They have leapt to such a degree that it is not now possible to continue publication without increasing the price substantially. This, we feel, we cannot do."
A sad end for the world's first weekly and monthly football magazines.
Shoot magazine published it's last issue on the 17th June 2008.