Phill Moss interview – 3MIAB.
The new edition of Tranmere Rovers fanzine 3MIAB has recently been published, to mark Tranmere’s achievements of getting to the Papa John’s Trophy Final. The last edition was published in 1991, thus I spoke to author Phill Moss to understand why he thought now was the right time to put pen to paper again before speaking to him about a range of other Rovers related topics.
To start the conversation off, can you tell me a little bit about yourself and the other writers of the fanzine. You’re obviously a Tranmere fan but what were your first experiences with the club and when did you first want to start to write about them?
I started off, religiously, following Rovers when I joined the glory bandwagon in 1989/90 and that was the first proper full season I went to Prenton Park.
We obviously had some fantastic players, who got us to the Leyland DAF Final but unfortunately we lost to Notts County in the Play Off final. That was the start of a magical journey, looking back as we had to do considering it was thirty years since we played in the Trophy final. Looking back, we were spoiled rotten in the terms of our squad quality and the style of football that we played.
I don’t want to see that we’ll never see that again as I hope we do but they were the glory days.
At the time, there was a fanzine called Friday Night Fever which was written by Nigel Adderly. When that disappeared, myself and a group of friends decided that we should try and fill the gap and that’s how it started really.
3MIAB came out in the March of 1991, we debuted against Shrewsbury away .. a game that we won 1-0!
Why did you want to go into the process of writing another one, thirty years on from the previous and was it an enjoyable process?
I guess that being in Lockdown helped.
It was the morning after we had beaten Oxford United and I had this crazy idea to write another edition.
I still have all of the copies and everything. I fished them out and had a little look at what I had been writing about last time.
The writing process took up some time and gave the writers a chance to talk about what they had been up to in the past 20/30 years. I’ve met some fantastic people through Tranmere, especially when you go to away games.
So, I guess we wanted to write another edition to see what the reaction was like whilst jogging the memory .. who knows in terms of the future!
What was it like to actually put pen to paper, to publish your work and distribute the pieces? How long did it all take?
When we used to write them we used to do it between 2 weeks – 6 months, that was our schedule and we’d identify the home games from the fixture list that we’d want to launch each edition at.
In those days, printing was completely different to it is now! It was basically just photocopied at the print shop, it certainly wasn’t in full colour throughout those days but this one, yeah, it germinated very quickly.
It had to be digital. I wanted to get it out before the final so there wasn’t a lot of time available and I had a little debate of whether it was worth writing it or not.
I had some ideas and people that I could contact, it was looking like an 80 page fanzine! However, I had plenty of time on my hands and although there were some nights where I’d be staying up to 2am etc to try and get stuff done.
Not only was I writing it, I was typesetting it. I was having to put it into the right format, whilst proofreading it at the same time. It took a lot of effort but I found it really enjoyable.
I’d get the same buzz as thirty years ago when there was a knock on the door, I’d open it and it was the printers. You’d feel proud and think .. hey, I’ve actually created this!
I just wanted to see what reaction it was going to get. The feedback has been quite interesting, some people have praised plenty of different articles. The one that I particularly like the most, no one has mentioned it yet!
Do you think that you are going to publish another edition?
I don’t know.
The difficulty is that I moved away from the Wirral 20 odd years ago, when I first moved down to the South East I kept my Season Ticket for the Town Paddock and I’d travel back quite often. However, work became too demanding and then the cost of travel etc increased. The other people that have contributed to this issue, whom I know, don’t live on the Wirral so it’s quite a weird disconnect.
Also, I suppose because of the lockdown it was quite easy to do this one as I’ve been able to watch more Tranmere games on iFollow this season than I have probably watched in the last 5-10 years.
From that point of view, I got to know the squad of players better than others but not to the extent that I knew them in the 1990s.
I used to go to the reserve games at PP on the Wednesday afternoons then go into the Clipper for a couple of pints with them afterwards, that was what we used to do. Obviously, that doesn’t happen anymore. So whether we write another or not, I don’t know, it’s a lot of work to put in.
In terms of distribution, I thought that more people would have opted for the digital copy than the printed version but that hasn’t been the case which is nice to see.
The guy in my local post office, we’re now good friends and we’ve said we will go for a beer when possible as we see each other that much!
If next season, when everyone goes back to the game and the tent’s open, I’ll reevaluate whether it is worthwhile and I’ll come up and sell the fanzines in the tent. I’ll have to wait and see.
However, I am thinking of an end of season issue.
I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed the latest edition of 3MIAB. However, if people are finding out about the fanzine through our conversation how can they get themselves a copy?
I’m still taking orders, there’s a few copies of the printed version left but when they’ve gone they’ve gone. However, the digital version will remain available. If people go to my very oddly named website, ‘…’ they’ll be able to fill in the order form before getting a confirmation email and we’ll sort out the payment on the next section. Paypal, bank transfer etc and then I’ll stick it in the post.
Talking about Tranmere now. What’s your current take on Keith Hill and our chance of promotion?
I wrote, previously, on Twitter that if we played every game like we did against Sunderland in the Final that we’d win the league.
Everyone knows that we’re missing Vaughan, but I don’t think that Hill has recruited and put the right people on the pitch to cover his loss. Nugent isn’t the answer, unfortunately. He’s had chances to score, like the header which he should have had on the weekend but he hasn’t taken them and then they were up the other end unmarked and got the equaliser.
You look at the momentum that Bolton has, they have the sort of form that you need this time of year. We don’t have it at the moment and there are certain players who I’m not sure why they aren’t playing. Danny Lloyd .. Corey Blackett-Taylor, we can’t score at the moment so where are there chances? They don’t seem to get them and I’m not too sure what Lloyd has done wrong. He comes on late on and is expected to get the winner.
We’re solid at the back, although Davies’ injury isn’t helpful. It’s just up top that we’ve got to get it right now with some massive games coming up across the Easter weekend.
If we keep on getting 4points out of an available 6 then we should get automatic. Our current form isn’t doing us any favours.
On Friday we need to give chances to players who haven’t been granted them and we need to do something which we normally don’t, turn up on television and win.
Thinking of the periods between the final edition, 1991 and the latest one. Who do you think is the best manager that we had? In my eyes, I’d go for Mellon due to the sense of unity and the promotions.
You’ve got to give kudos to John Aldridge, it can’t have been easy for him to take over from Johnny King. To go from player to player/manager is tough and he got us to our one and only major cup final, we were unlucky that day to not beat Leicester City. The following seasons, we had them ridiculous games against Everton and Southampton in the FA Cup but he walked just before the Easter weekend and that was probably so he didn’t have relegation on his CV.
Yeah, I’d go for Mellon. He came into a club that had been run to the ground and what he did to get us to three play off finals and for the way he galvanised the team and helped the fans fall back in love with what they were seeing. The whole atmosphere of the club changed so I’d go for him.
The final question, I’m talking to Phil Denton later about his recently published book ‘100 days’. As an author yourself, is his work something that you will be looking forward to reading?
I’ll definitely get hold of it.
Phil has very graciously got my fanzine and said some very nice things about it. I love the parallels of ‘100 days’ between politics and football management as I believe that’s really interesting, the first few months can make a change into what you’re doing in a position of power.
So, it’s an interesting topic and context to explore and I’ll look forward to reading it.
Thank you very much for your time Phil,
No worries Ethan, my pleasure!