In my continuing collaborative series with @1888Letter, I will ask the Football (Soccer) magazine reading experiences of Bulgarian Teodor Borisov, PhD in history and sport journalist.
Name: Teodor Borisov
Personal Description: Teodor Borisov – PhD in history and sport journalist in Bulgarian daily newspaper Meridian match. Author of the book “How the football conquered Bulgaria - 50 stories about The Beautiful game”. Football books, programmes and magazines collector.
Soccernostalgia/@1888Letter Question: At what age did you become a Football fan and how long after did you start reading Football Magazines?
Response: I started to read football magazines and watch football at the same time, but as a child I preferred to play and read about football than to watch. In Bulgaria 1990s was golden age for football magazines. In post Communist era fans were hungry for information, our national team was on the pick of its popularity and it was something normal to have a picture of the players like Stoichkov, Kostadinov and Penev on the cover of “Onze Mondial”, “France football” or “Don Balon”. I was 5-6 year-old when my parents bought me my first football magazine – Bulgarian “Tip top futbol press”. It was interesting for me because of the pictures and when I grew up I started to read the texts.
Soccernostalgia/@1888Letter Question: What was the first Soccer (Football) magazine that you read as a new young fan of the game?
Response: My first serious experience with football magazines was in 1999, when I bought “Futbolna planeta” (“Football planet”) - review of 1998/99 season. It was fantastic, because inside was full of statistics of all championships around the world, historical statistics and many pictures. I remember very well almost every page of it and because of this magazine I learnt most of the world capitals, major cities and flags and it was normal to not have any problem with geography in high school.
Soccernostalgia/@1888Letter Question: Were there other local magazines that you also read?
Response: In years before Internet it wasn't easy to find information not only about football, but for every aspect of the life. In 1990s and 2000s in Bulgaria there 5-6 newspapers published plus 4-5 magazines and was impossible to buy everything, so friends of mine helped me and we exchanged our magazines. It was 2-3 magazines for international football and sport and they translated articles from “Four Four Two”, “Don Balon”, “Kicker”, “Onze Mondial” and on this way I had a chance to have a small window for world football.
Soccernostalgia/@1888Letter Question: Describe the general format of these particular magazines? What was your favorite section(s) of these said magazines?
Response: Every magazine had their own format, but in general they tried to copy all best things from international magazines. There were many analyses, interviews (including with Bulgarian players abroad with photos from their home and with headlines of local medias) and of course historical pages. In 1990s CSKA and Levski started with their club newspaper/magazine and there you could find interviews with famous supporters, girlfriend/wives of the players etc. Of course for a young fan the most important was the poster in the middle of the magazine and I'm sure that many of the readers bought magazines mainly for that, not for the texts.
Soccernostalgia/@1888Letter Question: Was the coverage of Football mainly local or was International Football news covered as well in a meaningful way?
Response: International football was covered on the best possible way. For example my colleague Rumen Paytashev, who has more than 30 major tournaments in his CV (World cups, European cups, Copa America, African cup of nations) had interesting articles about football in South America and many Bulgarian fans know more about Boca, River, Flamengo, Fluminense and other great teams from this continent because of him. As I told you, when you have local players in the best leagues, you follow every their step and it's easy to know more about the general picture. Many Bulgarian had satellite TV and watched the best leagues, so football fans here were well informed.
Soccernostalgia/@1888Letter Question: In general on a typical newsstand, how many choices were available for reading Football?
Response: As I said, in one point it was too many newspapers. You had “7 dni sport”, “Futbol” (weekly), “Sport toto” and “Evrofutbol” (about betting), “Gol” (newspaper from Plovdiv), “Planeta sport”, “Topsport” (first weekly, after that daily newspaper). Now it's only “Meridian match” and “Tema sport”. During the years it was many football magazines, some of them was Bulgarian version of international magazine (“Don Balon”, “Four Four Two”, “Champions”), but now you don't have a single one. I think that is normal – when you have 6 million. population, your club and national football is far from their best days and everyone can find everything in Internet it's ‘causa perduta’.
Soccernostalgia/@1888Letter Question: Do you remember foreign Football publications at your newsstands as well? If so did you read any?
Response: Unfortunately the access to foreign football magazines is very difficult in every era. In Communist era the most popular foreign magazines were Mondial, Start and Stadion (the last ones because of the team posters). Today you can't find any foreign magazine in the kiosks on regular basis. I had luck with some issues of Sport Bild or Onze Mondial and once I found Kicker Bundesliga sonderheff in one of the sea resorts. Now everything is easy with Internet and if you want you can have every magazine in the world. In Bulgarian bookshops you can find more and more books about English football, but I found titles like “The ball is round” and “Behind the Curtain” abroad (in Belgrade, Ljubljana etc.)
Soccernostalgia/@1888Letter Question: Growing up in a Communist Nation, was there anything unique in the coverage of the game in the West or was Football a universal language that transcended politics?
Response: I lived only 6 days of the Communist era, but know many football fans and collectors from this time. For them every visit of team like AC Milan, Liverpool, Nottingham, Ajax or Bayern was a chance to see their favorite players on live. In these years it wasn't more than 4-5 international games per year (mainly games of Bulgarian teams or any match in Intervision program). World cups and European championships were the only chance to see international football on regular basis. Of course, if you had a chance to watch Russian or Yugoslavian TV, your chances were better, but for the last one it was illegal.
Soccernostalgia/@1888Letter Question: I will ask this from everyone, one of my best memories as a young football fan was the anticipation of the day when new issues were available on newsstands. It was a weekly ritual that would stay with me for decades. In your own words, can you explain your memories of these days?
Response: When I was in high school, I had a special schedule for football magazines and newspaper. The man from the newsstand knew that and every day before the school and took my magazine/newspaper and if it was a big match previous day we discussed it. My schoolmates and teachers knew about my passion and my geography teacher gave me 2 minutes to comment the last round of Bulgarian championship and during the exam read my newspaper/magazine. May be it's too sentimental, but as you see, in this case the newspaper/magazine not only gave you an information, but you had social contact because of it.
Soccernostalgia/@1888Letter Question: Did you enjoy your magazines for the scores/league tables, etc or did you prefer the writing? Or was there an evolution as when you aged you started to appreciate the deep written analysis more?
Response: As I told, when I was a young I preferred only pictures, after that I started to see tables and results, and finally I started to read the texts. I preferred historical and texts for international football, because they gave you information not only for football, but general knowledge (of course it depended on the author). Now I read hundreds of texts every day (on paper and online), but fortunately I still find texts, that give me extra knowledge.
Soccernostalgia/@1888Letter Question: How has the quality of your favorite magazines changed (for better or worse over the years)?
Response: If we talk about the quality of the paper, now it's much easier to read a magazine or newspaper. Of course the price of every issue depends on that and unfortunately our standard is not too high and for the average football fan, it is too much to give 5 or 7,5 euro for quality magazine with good texts. Unfortunately the magazines of my childhood do not exist anymore, but I'm sure that is for good. Now in global aspect the football is too far from its origin and fast food medias are better option to cover it than serious magazines 10-20 years ago.
Soccernostalgia/@1888Letter Question: Looking back what was the best era for your favorite magazines?
Response: The best era for Bulgarian magazines was between 1994 and 1998. When you have strong national team, who beat Argentina, Mexico, Germany, Russia etc., you can write your texts with passion and people will like it. Every picture and every moment from this era is priceless.
Soccernostalgia/@1888Letter Question: Did daily newspapers play a part in the coverage of the game. Can you compare these daily papers to the Football specific weekly monthly magazines?
Response: Of course. If you want to know more about the game yesterday, you will buy the newspaper. The main advantage of the newspapers is that you have analyses of the game. In websites you have flash interviews, videos, they are dynamic media and it's difficult to find good texts (I talk about Bulgaria). Of course with social medias and all type of blogs, vlogs, you can find many different points of view, but as we say “If you read something in the newspaper, it's true”.
Soccernostalgia/@1888Letter Question: Has your taste in magazines changed over the years or do you still read your favorite magazines?
Response: Every man changes his mind during the years and can find different things in the same magazines. Now I am looking for interesting stories from the past and present, because if you looking for statistics or quotes of the players/coaches after the game, you have a thousand of websites. That's why I like magazines as “The Blizzard”, “Panenka”, “Josimar”, where you can find in depth texts (if you know the local language, of course).
Soccernostalgia/@1888Letter Question: Looking back, do you feel these magazines kept you sufficiently informed about the events of the game as a whole?
Response: In every case they were useful about their time. Fortunately now I can find everything what I want to fill in the gaps. You have many interesting stories outside the top 4 leagues, but you can find local sources to know about them and in this case you need of research.
Soccernostalgia/@1888Letter Question: Did your interest in reading magazines wane with the advent of Internet and 24 Hour Sports Television channels or are you as interested as ever in reading?
Response: Now I read it as a fan, but also as a journalist. I try to find new ideas about my articles in these old or new magazines, because it will be stupid if you think that you invent the bicycle. Fortunately I'm still surprised of many modern magazines (as a Russian version of Total football) plus the traditional World Soccer and Four Four Two.
Soccernostalgia/@1888Letter Question: Are there publications that have since been defunct that you miss?
Response: It's a normal feeling. When you grow up with something (it doesn't matter if we talk about football magazine, TV Show, singer or rock group) you identify yourself with it. I have a chance to know personally and to work with authors of the most of my favorite magazines/newspapers and for me this dialogue continues, this time not as a author and reader, but as colleagues.
Soccernostalgia/@1888Letter Question: Getting back to my earlier question about anticipating the release of magazines. Given that now many receive their magazines on PDF, do you feel that a level of excitement has been lost as a result?
Response: In this case I'm pragmatic. Of course when I travel abroad and come back at home with 3 books and 4 magazines the feeling is wonderful, but when you have a lack of storage it's normal to prefer PDF. For me the most important is the information and when I find interesting and unknown fact the feeling is the same when the source is on paper or online.
Soccernostalgia/@1888Letter Question: Once again thank you for taking the time in participating in this project.