Sunday 12 February 2012

Interview: Gary Silke and Derek Hammond (Got, Not Got)

Gary Silke (left) and
Derek Hammond (right),
authors of Got, Not Got
Gary Silke and Derek Hammond are the authors of a recently published book called Got, Not Got, a title that has quickly become an epic tome for lovers of football nostalgia everywhere including ourselves. The book sold in great numbers over the Christmas period (rightly so in our opinion), so we decided to have a chat with Gary and Derek to find out more about Got, Not Got and their love for the bygone days of The Beautiful Game.

TFA: First of all, let’s begin by congratulating you both on the huge success of the book. It’s richly deserved... but how did the project begin?

DH: Thanks a lot! I'm not sure the success is exactly 'huge' but we've had a very promising first few months both in terms of growing sales and press and reader feedback.

We first punted a book to publishers about 7 years ago - centered all around 'Supersonic Soccer Stuff They Sold Us in the Seventies' - and we had a couple of very near misses. About three years ago something much more like GNG was again touted around by a different agent, with the same response. The feedback we were getting all suggested it would be impossible to sell football nostalgia to fans of more than one club.

TFA: And prior to the project starting, when did the two of you first meet?

GS: I'm surprised to say I can't really remember. I think Derek contributed something to my Leicester fanzine The FOX and it was quite funny. He was just a crazy kid looking for a break and hey... I took a chance on him.

TFA: Reading through the book, it’s plain to see how much time and effort has gone into compiling and writing all the entries. You must have reached a point where you realised there would be too many subjects to cram into one book... How frustrating was that for you?

DH: No problem! We realised early on that we couldn't possibly fit it all in, and started to think about GNG2... Now readers are sending us great ideas (fog! DIY ticker tape! Brut! proper drop balls!) and pictures on a weekly basis, and once again it's a case of having to decide what to fit in and what to leave out.

TFA: Despite all that, however, was there anything you forgot to write about or wished you’d included after the book went to press?

GS: I can't really think of anything we wish we'd included. Maybe rolled down socks in the manner of Rodney Marsh and the Argentina side of 1978?

I was also desperately trying to get hold of a Striker diving goalkeeper to do a big close-up photo of but I kept getting pipped at the post on eBay. I SHALL get one for GNG2.

We started the book with the intention of doing 120 pages, but at a very early stage the publisher requested we make it 240. It soon became clear, even then, that a GNG2 would be required.

TFA: Which entries in Got, Not Got did you both particularly enjoy writing about?

DH: Swivel boots, Cov Girl of the Match, Shame, Smoke, Punk Rock Football. I'm easily pleased.  

TFA: We’re pleased and grateful to say you’ve also set up a Got, Not Got blog site to accompany the book. What are you hoping to achieve with the blog and what have been your favourite entries on the site since it began?

GS: Our publicity comes from a very grass roots level so it was important to get a blog going to help spread the word. With Facebook and Twitter added we have started to reach a wider audience. It is also a rallying point for like-minded people to come and discuss all our great old stuff. We want to encourage a wider level of participation for the next book. Everyone has a great story to tell and some old tat to illustrate it.

I like the stuff we are getting sent now because it is fresh to us and makes for a great blog entry.

TFA: Looking forward, you must still have lots of ideas buzzing around in your heads for future blog articles and entire projects, even. Is there anything you have in the pipeline you’re thinking about creating that you can tell us about?

DH: We're working on a humour book for publication later this year. Then there's GNG2 to look forward to, as we both accidentally let slip earlier!

TFA: OK, it’s ‘what if’ time now... If you had to create a football nostalgia Hall of Fame, what would be the first three things you’d put in it? (They can be real items or generic concepts, specific or general...)

GS: Subbuteo seems to hold a very special place in the heart of the nation and I see they are now relaunching it so it will no longer be a 'Not Got'.

Mud, sums up how different football was then. So that would be in. When was the last time you caught the smell of mud at a professional football game?

And just that feeling of quivering excitement you got when you were going to the match as a kid. I think only an FA Cup Final for Leicester City could re-ignite that feeling for me now. And even then I'd probably just end up getting annoyed by something modern.

TFA: And of all the items of football ephemera you actually own, what single things would you both nominate as your favourites, and why?

DH: For ironic bad-taste fun it has to be my Justin Fashanu rubber, cover star of GNG. I just got a very cool fake Action Man for GNG2, for 99p, complete with totally unnerving psychotic glare. No joking, he is genuinely scary.

From a more personal perspective it has to be my childhood box of football cards - which is why I was touched when James Brown at Sabotage Times reviewed the book and said it was just like finding his old football stickers.

TFA: Sticking with your own personal possessions, which items did you both once own that you now regret getting rid of?

GS: My Leicester City Admiral shirt was nicked from the PE changing rooms circa 1979. I'm just about over it, though I still intend to hunt down and execute the bastards who did it.

TFA: Is there anything either of you really wanted to own that you finally managed to purchase, and were you ultimately pleased or disappointed when you got it?

DH: I would give anything to see the original advert for swivel boots which so affected me back in around 1970. To see the actual boots, complete with the patent turn-on-a-sixpence rotating turntable of four studs under the ball of your foot... that would be close to a religious experience for me!

TFA: If you don’t mind us asking, have you ever spent a ridiculous amount of money on a single item of football nostalgia?

GS: I spent a ridiculous amount on two items, but probably not in the way you mean. This woman at a car boot sale had two matchworn 'Ind Coope' City shirts from the mid 80s. I asked her how much she wanted and she said: "10p.... each."

I paid and left. Does that make me as bad as the bastards who nicked my Admiral shirt? It does, doesn't it?

TFA: A lot of people are now becoming disenchanted with modern football for various different reasons. Do either of you fall into this category and what do you find so appealing about bygone football over and above the game as we know it today?

DH: We both fall deep into this category - I guess that much is pretty clear from the book - but of course we keep plodding to the football because we're hooked. The modern game lacks characters, atmosphere, a sense of fun and glorious abandonment, it's overpriced and over-defensive, players and coaches are scared to lose, and there aren't any floodlight pylons or greyhound tracks any more. Apart from that, it's great.

TFA: It’s been suggested to both of us that a better title for your book would have been ‘Got, Got, Need’ as an alternative refrain by sticker-collecting schoolchildren everywhere. Are you willing to admit you named your project in haste and apologise for your wrong-doing?!?!!

GS: In our playground it was always 'got, got, got, not got'. I think there are regional variations. The title works on two levels with everything in the book being something we had 'Got' and have now 'Not Got'. That's the only way it could work.

TFA: The FIFA World Cup in 2010 saw a sudden increase in the number of adults collecting Panini stickers, presumably as a way of reliving the joys of their youth. Do you consider it wrong in any way to collect stickers well beyond your childhood years or do you encourage such behaviour?!

DH: I haven't personally collected football cards since I was a kid, but Gary has. I'm a serious student of football culture and pop history, and my interest in vintage ephemera is for research purposes only. He's just an overgrown child. My collection, meanwhile, just happens to be expanding faster than his... but let me assure you it's for all the right reasons.

TFA: Speaking of Panini stickers, what’s the most stickers you ever swapped (or saw swapped) for just one other? (Rich J once witnessed about 300 swapped for a single Jim Smith which was needed to complete a Panini Football '87 collection...)

GS: I can't remember the figures but I had to hand over an absolute stack for Kevin Beattie to complete my 1973-74 FKS Sticker Album. And it was damaged so I had to do a repair job with a blue biro.

I learnt a lesson that day, keep your cards close to your chest and never advertise how much you need something.

TFA: Finally, what would you say is your personal cut off date, where ‘nostalgia’ ends and ‘modern day’ begins?

DH: 1992. Year Zero.

Gary and Derek, many thanks for your time and all the very best of luck with your future ventures. Keep up the good work with Got, Not Got!

Got, Not Got is published by Pitch Publishing and is available via at the new low price of £11.99.


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