The beginning of Extra Point
by publisher and contributor Neil Watson
So how did it all start?
I recall it all being Scareford's fault! We called him that because his email address was firstname.lastname@example.org He had a letter printed in First Down, proposing a Skinner/Baddiel/Statto-style partnership for American Football fans. I had converted to the game in late '92, so this idea - in late '93 or '94? - really appealed.
Initially, I only had one contribution to make, and I can't even remember if it was to First Down or Extra Point: "Have any of your readers thought about writing a song about Vinny Testaverde, to the tune of "Ferry Cross the Mersey? No? Do I win £5?"..
What were some of the best moments?
For me, the best moments were four-fold:
1) The running jokes, such as the anti-Cowboys drive and my latest T-shirt or book release,
2) When we scooped First Down to a story, knowing exactly when and what they could publish. We'd get Extra Point out, say, on a Wednesday evening, with some late-breaking news. Both would - ideally - hit the doormats on a Thursday morning, and we'd have won!
3) Reading a contribution you really wish you'd written yourself, whether it was Art Modell ripping the heart out of the Browns, The Kyle Brady Bunch, some of the gags in The Bill Cowher Comedy Corner ... and
4) Those moments when you weren't quite sure if you were in the worst trouble of your life, or on the verge of something huge and brilliant: the Nick Halling Dream, Stormin' Norman White, being named Fanzine of the Year (a blessing and a curse), having had my address read out on Channel 5, the quality and quantity of Extra Pints, getting AFWAB-ers p!ssed in my casino, Reggie White-gate, Keith Webster's Tuesday lunchtime phone-calls ("Do you even know where Seattle is, Watson?!"), getting in a locker-room and realising you didn't know who all the players were once they'd taken their jerseys off ...
One of your most famous articles was the Pro Celebrity Football report when the cast of Riverdance took on the Pittsburgh Steelers - err, how? why?
Pro Celebrity Football - Riverdance was on round the corner from where I was living, at what will always be the Hammersmith Odeon to me, and I'd been spending too much time looking at the very, very detailed NFL weekly injury reports, to field the best Gridstats Fantasy Gridiron team possible. I simply put the two together to make something greater than the sum of its two parts, which is often the way I write best (a tune about Semtex high explosive to the tune of the Rawhide theme, for a Fringe comedy show, for example).
And when you wrote for First Down, you made the infamous "Reggie White his church is alight" comment which we all fell about at and you ended up in hot water.
The whole ChurchGate thing was mad, but a great life lesson for me. Keith Webster rang me up, completely level, and said: "Nutjob letter, Reggie White's church. Threating to go to the Players' Association. How do you want to play this?"
I knew he would back me up regardless, fight or flight. In the words of the great poet and philosopher, William "Billy" Joel: "We didn't start the fire," but I settled instead for a grovelling apology and the loss of a week's wages in a Wisconsin-bound gesture.
I wish I'd had more professional editors or managers like Keith in my career. He asked the questions no-one else wanted to ask ("This Berlin team ... will it be the seventh in the World League, or ..?" at a World Bowl press conference) and the sheer faith he had in letting me write opinion columns, previews and other feature material for First Down, despite me having - unexamined - journalism training.
But I wouldn't have got there, or the Monarchs, without Scary. In being the catalyst for EP, he was also the catalyst for other great opportunities, and I'm thankful. Gahd bless the Scareford!
How would you sum up the people involved in EP?
The people were a remarkable bunch. You couldn't sum up any one personality in three words, to risk insulting them ... so that's exactly what I'll do!
Webster: insightful, dour, inspirational
Stewart (Paul, not Kordell): optimistic, tenacious, funny
Careford: passionate, dogmatic, proud
Smith, Paul: I'll come back to that one ...
Mr No-Show: committed, hospitable, amiable
Conway (Darren, not Brett): a raucous, sociable exhibitionist
Iscariot, Judas: measured, creative, diabetic
McConnell, Danny: calculated, evangelical, fair
Smith, Paul: flappable, defensive and ... and ... (Paul, could you insert a more positive one in here before you go to press with this, please?)*