There have been some writers that have helped us document life as a West Ham fan in every issue over the past 10 years.
There are others who joined the team, left as life got in the way and now have returned, and there are others who have brought bundles of energy in recent years to our pages.
And then there’s you – our fabulous readers – whose support over the years has meant so much to me, especially in the early days when I often asked myself: ‘Why am I doing this? Is it really worth it?’
We’ve all had different journeys with the magazine over the years. Blowing Bubbles means something different to each of us and we enjoy reading every issue for different reasons.
Lucy Farrell has written for every issue of Blowing Bubbles and admits it’s been a rollercoaster covering the highs and lows over the past decade.
‘I’m immensely proud to have been part of the Blowing Bubbles team for 10 years,’ she said. ‘The call for writers came at a time when I was looking for writing gigs and being a West Ham fan made this the perfect project.
‘Writing about one of my favourite subjects can be a rollercoaster though. There have been plenty of positives recently, my trip to Seville being the most engaging.
‘But it’s tough going too. I remember writing about the plans for the last game at Upton Park, that was an emotional one.
‘I’m lucky to have contributed to every issue of Blowing Bubbles in some way, so to celebrate it turning 10 years old is heartwarming.’
Geoff Hillyer is another who has been writing for Blowing Bubbles for 10 years and admits to the time ‘whizzing by’.
‘I remember when I was approached to write for the magazine all those years ago,’ he continued. ‘I genuinely felt it was an honour – such a great opportunity to write about my passion, and to share the highs and the lows.
‘Ten years later, I’m still here, and the quality of the magazine has never been higher. The recent Mark Noble tribute issue was absolutely fabulous. Here’s to the next ten years – maybe we’ll even win something in that time, who knows?!’
It’s the camaraderie between the writers that is one thing that Emily Pulham has enjoyed over the years.
‘My Blowing Bubbles journey began in January 2015, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,’ Emily explained. ‘Being assigned head-scratchers of articles to write, delighting in my fellow writers’ pub talk responses, and the challenge of doing the end of season A-Z when X is for X-ray needs to be used year after year, are all fantastic parts of being a writer.
‘But in the past couple of years, being part of the team has been more meaningful to me than ever.
‘Football to me has always been about community. During lockdown, watching games on TV, alone, without crowds was torture – but the Blowing Bubbles WhatsApp group chat kept the sense of community alive for me.
‘My fellow writers kept me connected, and kept me going – and this continued when a significant health issue kept me stuck at home and stuck in bed when the fans were allowed back.
‘I’ll be forever blowing bubbles, and I’ll also be forever grateful for the friends I’ve made while doing so.’
Meanwhile Claret & Hugh’s Hugh Southon believes the success of the magazine is down to the standards it sets.
‘It was a genuine compliment to be asked to join the fine team of writers on Blowing Bubbles – a journey I have so enjoyed over the last few years,’ he said. ‘Blowing Bubbles maintains the highest standards of the printed Hammers words in a world of pixels.
‘The recent edition focusing on the retirement of Mark Noble may well have been my favourite, concentrating on the positives of a player who can be included in any list of West Ham legends.
‘The great thing for our writers is that editor David Blackmore, unlike many editors, puts no restrictions on his team, allowing them to reflect the good, bad and ugly of life at West Ham which is precisely as it should be. Well done to him and his team as Blowing Bubbles reaches this landmark edition.’
Joining the team of writers at the start of 2018 was a ‘massive breakthrough’ for Brian Penn, and he’s not looked back since.
‘I was itching to write about the club that has teased and tormented me all my life,’ he explained. ‘It was an opportunity to vent in a series of well controlled rants; and find a receptive audience that understood where I was coming from.
‘We represent a broad church but it’s something that binds us together as we celebrate and commiserate in equal measure.
‘Only now do I truly appreciate the kinship we derive from being Irons fans. I’m proud to be part of a brilliant team of writers and look forward to the next 10 years’
And the Blowing Bubbles team also benefits from input from fans across the globe, like Bradley Holland who was an avid reader from the start of 2019 before making the leap to writer the year after.
‘Blowing Bubbles initially came into my life as a gift from my folks, to honour and appreciate the new love I had for a sport and a specific club, West Ham United.
‘To the ambivalent observer, the fanzine title might seem something a child would order, but to any true fan of West Ham, such a title, like the song, is a timeless classic comprising many hopes, dreams, and visceral narratives we follow each week.
‘After writing for online publications, I hoped my name would be on the written page amongst the writers, and images, and West Ham aficionado that came each month to my doorstep from across the Pond.
‘I am always hopeful that I might give someone else a few minutes of nostalgic thought or grimacing commiseration. I’m proud to be part of this writing team.’
Just like Bradley, Meirion Williams was a reader before he started contributing his thoughts each month.
‘It’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 years since the first issue of Blowing Bubbles,’ Meirion said. ‘My own journey began with that very first issue, not as a contribution in those days but as a reader.
‘I still have those first 10 issues, all still in pristine condition. I had no thoughts in those days of being a writer.
‘Well that’s not entirely true, I was a long term contributor for another fanzine, Over Land and Sea.
‘I had started writing for OLAS way back in 1999 and contributed to every issue to its demise in May 2016 with the final game at the Boleyn.
‘Despite writing for OLAS, I still bought Blowing Bubbles on occasions as I needed my Hammers fix.
‘With that last issue of OLAS I thought my writing days were over, and I thought I would retire gracefully.
‘With the move to the London Stadium, Blowing Bubbles became the only independent magazine. I’m at an age where I still like print, so I turned to ‘Bubbles’ for that simple reason plus the fact that it was well written and was like a smaller, better, more independent version of the also defunct Hammers News.
‘It was then when I started purchasing every issue, that I realised I was missing my fix of contributing to a magazine.
‘I’ve now been a constant for over 30 issues and love it. I’ve had grief and praise over the years, don’t you just love social media, but it has never put me off contributing.
‘It’s nothing to do with ego, having your name in print, it’s more to do with wanting to share an opinion.
‘When I look back, I’m proud to be a contributor and when I look back on those copies of Blowing Bubbles I own, it has to be issue 61 that is my favourite.
‘That first issue after the move showed that despite the move, a Hammers independent magazine was still here and here to stay.’
Meanwhile, Greg Richardson is celebrating his own milestone – five years writing for Blowing Bubbles.
‘I still get as excited now as I did for my first article to contribute and do something I’ve always dreamed about – writing about West Ham for West Ham fans,’ Greg said.
‘I’ve loved being challenged with expressing views I hadn’t considered, none more so than having to try to argue that Snodgrass was the man to fill the Payet void.
‘But my most enjoyable pieces have all been Mark Noble related, getting to wax lyrical about the man who fulfilled my other dream – becoming a West Ham legend.’
Olivia Elliott is spearheading the new generation of writers that have brought a renewed passion to the pages of Blowing Bubbles.
‘Blowing Bubbles means so much to me,’ she explained. ‘I lost my Grandad in 2018, and he had been a subscriber to Blowing Bubbles since it first started out 10 years ago.
‘Two years after losing him I got the opportunity to write for the fanzine, and everything I write in here I always dedicate to him and I absolutely love expressing my opinions and interviewing different teams fans every season.’
And for our Big Interview writer, Julian Shea, he’s thrived with the opportunity to talk to many of his favourite players, and share their stories of their time at the club.
‘Players come and go, but fans stay, and the fact so many ex-players are so generous with their time and so happy to talk shows that the club means just as much to them as it does to us fans’ Julian explained.
‘Each story is as distinct and individual as the person telling it, so it’s great to be able to add so many chapters to the West Ham story. ‘