Blizzard blows in with new model of football writing

Jonathan Wilson, the sometime “east European football correspondent” of (yes, they have one) is behind the launch of a new football website and magazine, The Blizzard.

Stylish-looking, The Blizzard also features the writing of some stylish writers, including Ian Hawkey (of the Sunday Times), Scott Murray (one-time sports editor of and Gabriele Marcotti (of seemingly everywhere).

Issue 1 is not due out until June, but Issue Zero is available now, to download in pdf form for whatever price you want to pay.

If eclectic did not exist, someone would have to invent it for a title with this sort of contents page: David Winner talks to Dennis Bergkamp; Jonathan Wilson considers the career of Victorio Spinetto, the father of anti-fútbol; Dominic Sandbrook compares Don Revie to Richard Nixon; Scott Anthony interviews the Greek legend Vassilis Hatzipanagis; Dileep Premachandaran looks back at the history of Indian football.

Comparisons with When Saturday Comes, the long-running fanzine that quickly went mainstream, will be inevitable.

Wilson, who also writes regularly for The Independent, FourFourTwo and, his bio says, “anybody else who waves money in his direction”, explains The Blizzard thus: “I’d been frustrated for some time by the constraints of the mainstream media and, in various Press rooms and bars across the world, I’d come to realise I wasn’t the only one who felt journalism as a whole was missing something, that there should be more space for more in-depth pieces, for detailed reportage, history and analysis.

“Was there a way, I wondered, to accommodate articles of several thousand words? Could we do something that was neither magazine nor book, but somewhere in between?”

Of course, this has been WSC‘s schtick for decades, and the recent critical (if not financial) success of the sportingintelligence website, launched by the then Independent sportswriter, Nick Harris, with its long-form history, stats and investigative sports stories, may have also encouraged The Blizzard‘s founders to take the plunge.

Wilson believes that there is certainly a desire among football writers for something different. “I became aware there were other writers so keen to break the shackles of Search Engine Optimisation and the culture of quotes-for-quotes’-sake that they were prepared to write for a share of potential profit, that the joy of writing what they wanted and felt was important outweighed the desire to be paid.”

The Blizzard has been a year in the making. “Eclecticism is the key,” says Wilson, rather boldly, for someone titled as “editor”, promising, “There will be no attempt to impose an editorial line; all opinions expressed are those of the individual author. Equally, within certain basic parameters, writers are encouraged to write in whatever style they see fit.

“The priority is the product rather than profit, so we will not go chasing readers; the aim, rather, is to remain true to our ethos and to provide an alternative to that which already exists.”

The Blizzard can be found online here.

The Blizzard’s Twitter account is @blzzrd.

Jonathan Wilson is on Twitter @jonawils.


Thu Mar 31: Tour of London’s Olympic Park. Click here for details of how to apply

Tue Apr 5: SJA Olympic Question Time. Ticket booking to be launched in March.

Wed Apr 13: SJA 2011 Annual Meeting, at offices of UK Sport, Russell Square. Strictly SJA members only.

All details subject to alteration. Keep checking for updates