The next extract followed the reprinted material from Look Out For Lefty:
Though it was evidently a close-run thing, Look Out For Lefty was not one of the stories they simply chopped, when Action was withdrawn. And to the uninitiated and unsuspicious, it might have seemed that there was no break in the story-line. True, there are small and subtly indicative changes between the October 23 and December 4 issues. Though no one could at that time see the uncut version, a Perceptive reader could sense something had gone wrong – but how much’? The main changes were to the five references in the original version to Lefty’s long-standing conflict with the Rotherfield mob. They were all excised. (For example, one balloon changed from “I thought you ought ter know that two of them Rotherfield rippers got away from the cops, an’ pinched a couple of motorbikes! I ‘eard ‘em sayin’ they was headin’ for yer Gran’dad’s shop!”, to “I thought I’d better come and warn you, Lefty … I heard some blokes talking about robbin’ a junk shop! The only junk shop I can think of is the one that your Grandad runs!” Another simply disappeared: (“Without their thugs to howl ‘em on, Rotherfield have gone to pieces!’)
The main change came after December 4. In the archive there are a few pages of unpublished material, which continue the notorious story of Lefty’s battle with the Rotherfield mob. Remember, they had tarred and feathered his Grandad, rifled the till, and wrecked the shop. Lefty was not the kind of character just to let that pass, or quietly inform the police. For good or ill, he would take action into his own hands.
None of this was ever to appear. After December 4, Lefty became an almost traditional football story, with loads of amazing deeds on the field! And off it the changes were dreadful. Angie grew her hair, stopped being a demon of a skinhead – even put on a dress… Lefty’s homelife still interfered with his play. But in a totally different way. Grandad put a bet on Wigford Rovers winning a major cup match, and Lefty knew it would be all up with their business if the team loses. So he has to play exceedingly well, to make sure they win. It was all back to the pure parks pantomime.
None of this would have been conceivable in the kind of story it was, up until October. In some ways, the changes seem too small to matter. But they add up to a whole shift of meaning. This can be illustrated by the change to a cover planned for the November 13 issue. It would have showed a picture of Lefty sweeping mightily with that left boot of his, right into the keeper’s midriff. The slogan written boldly across him read: “Have you the GUTS to stand up to Lampton’s left”". In the whole shift of style demanded by the new regime, the word ‘guts’ was … strong meat. The cover was eventually used on the December 18 issue, but the wording was changed to the much lamer “Can you stand up to Lampton’s left’?”
Though incomplete, the following lost pages give a sense of where Lefty’s heart really lay. My suspicion is that they were one of the few effects we can definitely attribute directly to John Smith. Smith became editor of Action too late to have really altered the famous “bottle” incident. The script for that had been written. OKed and sent to the artist before he arrived. (The most that can be said is that, perhaps. he should have recognised that the finished artwork was likely to provoke trouble.) But one of Smith’s actions on entering the job was to summon Tom Tully and urge him to pep up the story. which was in danger of going dull. It was reverting to traditional Tullyisms, with bold doings on the turf. Smith, in tune with the true style of the comic, wanted the story moved off the park again. Sadly the surviving pages are very fragmentary. Still, for a last glimpse of that tough cookie Angie before she grew her hair and went “feminine”, they are worth seeing anyway!