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THE INSIDE TRACK | THE HOT CORNER

June 09, 1997|MIKE PENNER

A consumer's guide to the best and worst of sports media and merchandise. Ground rules: If it can be read, played, heard, observed, worn, viewed, dialed or downloaded, it's in play here.

What: "Barry Switzer Ate My Hamster Too!" Dallas Cowboy Fanzine.

Price: $4

Long before obsessive American hackers developed the My Favorite Sports Team web page, the Brits had their fanzines. Written and produced by the fans for the fans, the fanzine has become as much a part of English soccer culture as meat pies and tea in the terraces--making up for what it might lack in writing finesse with unabashed passion.

Taking that concept and twisting it around a different sort of footballing club--the Dallas Cowboys--must have taken some doing, especially with the editorial staff based in Middlesex, England.

How does America's Team translate across the pond? Well, the title is an hilarious giveaway.

Yes, Cowboy fans from all points on the map apparently share a common, founding belief: Everything wrong with the Cowboys can be traced to the same culprit--the man who had the brass to replace Jimmy Johnson as coach.

The fanzine's editorial philosophy, in a nutshell:

"Riddle--When is a weapon not a weapon? When Barry Switzer controls the trigger."

Need elaboration?

"We have seen poor substitution followed by total confusion managed by last-ditch gambles. The Cowboys are in much worse trouble on the field than off it. We have the greatest combined talent in the NFL, yet we don't have a plan. Watch the sideline during any game and see the lack of attention during the play substitutions. There is not the intensity nor the dedication."

There is one glaring difference between Cowboy fans here and abroad.

English Cowboy fans have a sense of humor.

Articles here bear such headings as "Not All Cowboys Are Junkies!", "Sanders Shows Rare Talent For Contradicting Himself," "A Signing At Last!" and "Cheerleader Mum," a heartwarming tale of a 37-year-old Cowboy cheerleader.

Graphics are not a consideration here--the March issue, for example, had a black and white photo on the cover, followed by 45 pages of gray text. But for anyone interested in a take on the Cowboys with a different accent, the editor, Paul Smith, can be contacted via mail (13 Heatherwood Drive, Hayes, Middlesex, UB4 8TN) or telephone (44 181 841 2063) or e-mail (pwsmonarch.almac.co.uk).

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