Echoes

The Echoes started its life in season 1973/74. To be precise, the first issue was printed in September 1973. Prior to that, the Club committee used to communicate with its members all its news, apart from the normal circulars, which are still sent today, via a stencilled newsletter which basically gave news on recent matches, player news and United news in general. One must bear in mind that in those days there was hardly any way the Maltese United supporter could get news about his favourite club except through the local and British newspapers, the BBC World Service sports programmes, and the very rare occasion when TVM (Xandir Malta in those days) used to screen a match involving the Reds. The only UK football transmitted back in the ‘70’s was a programme called ‘Star Soccer’ which effectively showed only Midlands teams (Derby, West Brom, Birmingham, Villa, Leicester etc) and if their opponents happened to be United (which wasn’t often) then we felt we were really lucky to see a glimpse of the Red Devils in action. So the Committee at the time felt it was important that the Club produces a better, more striking magazine than the above mentioned stencilled newsletter that was being sent out, and as a consequence the ‘Echoes from Old Trafford’ was born. At first it took the form of a four-page newspaper, with, I recall, the first article being an interview with Jack Crompton who was holidaying in Malta at the time. After some time it increased to eight pages, with most articles being dedicated to United players, the team’s current fortunes, Reserves and Juniors news (mostly gleaned from cuttings from the ‘Manchester Football Pink’ kindly sent to us by our correspondent Mrs Booth in Chorlton). I well remember the bulky envelopes full of these cuttings being received and sorted out by our then Club Secretary Alex Casha for publication in those early issues of the Echoes.

 

Over the years, the Echoes continued to be published without fail, and the number of pages continued to increase. Obviously more local Club news used to be included, especially if some player or official visited the Island, but the accent was naturally more on United games, and reproduced cuttings as stated above. It was later decided to revamp the Club’s official organ and it was issued in a new format, as a magazine rather than as a newspaper, with a colour front cover and more articles, a great improvement on the previous editions. The problem of costing was always at the forefront with advertising being hard to come by, and the Club always spent a great deal of its funds to continue to make sure that the Magazine was always produced, but successive General Meetings always stressed the importance of the fact that the Echoes must continue to be issued no matter what. And despite all difficulties, it always was.

 

In recent years, it was felt that there was still room for improvement. I recall ex-President John Buttigieg remarking that Members were not really that enthusiastic about reading reports on games that United had played 3 or 4 months previously, and that more emphasis should be put on local club matters and articles by local supporters. This opinion was shared by the succeeding President Franco Mizzi, who approached me to take over the editorship and try and introduce new articles about United and the local club written by local Members and opinionists which would prove more interesting than some of the reports that were appearing previously. Another great turning point was the taking over of the printing and layout by Charles and Simon Poulton, without whose immense contribution we would certainly not have the fantastic Magazine which appears today. The problem of advertising was also approached more professionally. Of course, we still keep a record of United team news and a practically day-to-day diary of all that goes on at Old Tafford, but this is restricted to one lengthy article which covers all team and club news. The rest is practically all opinions, comments and articles by local members which I feel are more appreciated and enjoyed by the average reader. All this, coupled with the fact that now, in its 35th season, the whole  42 pages of the ‘Echoes’ are in full colour, surely render this the best produced Supporters’ Club magazine in Malta. This is not to say that there is no more room for improvement or that we should rest on our laurels, but the feedback we get, both from Malta and from abroad, is that we are producing a great Magazine which is definitely a credit to the oldest United Supporters Club in the world. Many thanks to all previous Editors and all those who have helped in some way over the years to ensure that the Echoes always reaches our Fans.