For West Ham fans, the last few years have had their ups and downs, to put it mildly. And through all the striker hissy-fits, fan protests and managerial comings and goings, Blowing Bubbles has watched, reflected and written about all that has gone on at Upton Park and more recently the London Stadium.
The monthly publication, in print and digitally, celebrates its 100th issue this month, and editor David Blackmore, whose idea it was more than seven years ago, says the magazine’s longevity has proved a point that even in the modern era, fans still liked something in-depth to read and get their teeth into.
“We offer something different that people do thoroughly enjoy reading from cover to cover each month. Being monthly, we are able to think about more outside of the box with our features,” he said.
“When you are a website, things are very much here and now. You become somewhat of a daily newspaper. I would argue that our pieces rarely date within two weeks of publication because our writers are very clever about how they word them. We are able to look back at the month we’ve had and reflect accurately on the mood of the supporters. We are able to look at the month coming up at what challenges lay ahead.”
Initially, Blowing Bubbles was planned as being a digital-only publication, around matches, but over the last seven and a bit years it has evolved into a monthly print and digital offering with hundreds of dedicated readers, across both formats, where fans can come for content written by a dedicated team of West Ham fans, for West Ham fans.
“We’d just won promotion to the Premier League and I was on the train home when I decided to fully commit to actioning the idea I’d had for a while,” said Blackmore.
“I then started to find writers who could help provide the content for our magazine. Twitter was my saviour. Searches on there helped me to recruit the likes of Lucy Woolford, Brian Williams and Geoff Hillyer who have written for us ever since, and along the way we’ve picked up more great writers.”
Former Irons greats George Parris and Phil Parkes write monthly columns for Blowing Bubbles, and not only was it shortlisted for Fanzine of the Year by the Football Supporters’ Federation, but it is held in high enough regard by the club for co-owner David Gold to grant Blackmore regular one-on-one exclusive interviews, something for which Blackmore says he is deeply appreciative.
“I understand the feelings of the supporters towards our co-chairmen but I will always be grateful for the time Mr Gold gives to me each season and for answering the questions that I know the fans want me to ask,” he said. “Do I always get the answers I think supporters would like? No but he is always brutally honest with me – much to the dismay of the press team at West Ham!”
As for his birthday wish list? “I would love to add another ex Hammer to our team. We’ve got Phil and George, who are brilliant and their columns each month are very popular but I’d love to get in someone like Jack Collison or Joe Cole,” he said.
“And despite having spoken to so many of the biggest names in the club’s history, the one we’ve somehow managed to miss out on all this time is Mr West Ham himself. No, not Mark Noble, in fact I have a photo of him holding a copy of the magazine with him on the cover, but Billy Bonds. He’s always hiding, I’ve looked everywhere. So if you’re reading this Billy, please get in touch so we can arrange something. You’d make someone’s 100th birthday wish come true.”