Memories of Extra Point
by contributor and editor Paul Stewart
When I think of Extra Point, I think back to some very happy days in following American Football and some of the best people and best stories one could possibly imagine coming across. To think that EP only ran for five years from 1995 to 1999 is somewhat amazing as its legacy will live forever.
And this is what this feature is about, a chance for those involved to have a permanent reminder of that era, and for others to wonder what the heck was going on in those times.
To start with the basics, Extra Point was a gridiron fanzine that began under the stewardship of Steve Careford and Neil Watson in early 1995. After some 25-30 issues, Steve took a back seat and after one copy edited by Ceri Dovey and Geoff Reader, I took over in March 1998 and stayed as editor for two years.
EP then combined with a similar publication, Delay of Game, edited by Stephen Rigby in early 2000, but after a handful of future issues, disappeared from the scenes within a year.
My first involvement with the likes of Steve and Neil came in the spring of 1995 having heard about their publication and evening get-togethers at the Lord Moon on the Mall pub in London, and wandering along to see what it was all about. Too many beers later, some life-long friendships had been struck up and I joined the growing ranks of contributors to the magazine.
In those days, there were several NFL fan clubs in existence and most of them were involved with EP and being part of the Extra Pint evenings in London on the first Thursday of each month. Graham Barford (49ers) and Darren Conway (Bears) were the two main protagonists and of course we all shared the experience of editing magazines about our favourite NFL teams. Other characters who were also part of those days were uber-Viking fan Geoff Reader, London Monarchsí ticket manager Martin Dodds, and self-proclaimed draft guru Ceri Dovey.
EP was successful because it contained articles that you could not find anywhere else. The internet revolution was still some time away and First Down mostly relied on re-hashes of articles from the Associated Press. So you could open a copy of EP and see everything from a four-page guide to college prospects, how to watch a game in Minnesota, someone slagging off the World League, and then a collection of pieces that would not be out of place in Viz magazine.
And I guess I was as guilty of the alleged humorous pieces as anyone. Spoof songs were my speciality and the lyrics to Ernie Conwell, the greatest Ram tight end in the West will follow me to my grave.
When the London Monarchs played at White Hart Lane, the EP crew would always be there on press passes and would quickly congregate in one of the two press boxes allocated to the media types. It quickly became apparent that the supposed-real journalists would be in one, and all of us would be in the other arranging sweepstakes on the score, seeing who could drink their own body weight in beer and deciding how much we would annoy Keith Webster of First Down that day. But it also led to quite a few doors opening with Steve writing for the Monarchs, Neil for First Down, and myself presenting a piece on the World League for Channel 4.
All of the main faces in the game at the time contributed in some way to EP. Nick Halling, Mike Carlson and Keith Webster all wrote and turned up at the Moon on the Mall at some time, and friends at the Tampa Tribune loved the irrelevant humour in each issue even if they maybe didnít quite get some of the nuances of what we were getting at.
And when we decided Mark Webster, Channel 5ís NFL presenter, looked like the lead singer of the Shamen, then we made it on TV coverage with Mark and Mike Carlson waxing lyrically about the magazine on air for some time. I bumped into Mark in London a few months ago and he loved the Shamen reference and still had the copy of the magazine.
The internet saw NFL articles appear everywhere and the days of the printed magazine were numbered, especially one that was home-grown like EP and also the Bucs UKís own magazine, Thereís Always Next Year. But if EP was gone, it will definitely not be forgotten. I am proud of what we all produced, how we promoted and encouraged the various NFL fan clubs in existence at the time and that we contributed in our own small way, something towards the gridiron phenomenon in this country.