The following article first appeared in Issue Zero, released in March 2011.
The Blizzard was born in a pub, Fitzgeralds on Green Terrace to be precise, the night last season that Sunderland beat Bolton 4-0.
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?
As I floated thoughts and theories to anyone who would listen, 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 only problem, I explained to those around the table in Fitzys, was finding a publisher equally willing to take the gamble.
I suppose you don’t really think of your old school-friends, people you only really see these days in the context of the pub and the match, as having jobs. Sitting next to me that night, though, as he’d sat next to me in sixth-form English, was my mate Peter, who happens to run a design and publishing company. Flushed on White Amarillus and a Darren Bent hattrick, we knocked around ideas for the rest of the night; remarkably, in the cold light of morning, it still seemed a viable plan.
The result, about a year later, is The Blizzard, named after the short-lived and eccentric, but rather brilliant, Sunderland newspaper launched as “the organ of Mr Sidney Duncan” in 1893. It only ran to 12 issues, during which time Duncan, who pretty much wrote the whole thing himself, doubled the cover price in an attempt to cut circulation because he found the effort of handling all the money he was making so tiresome, a policy I’m pretty sure we won’t be following should we experience similar success.
Nor is The Blizzard the organ of any one individual. Rather it aims to provide a platform for writers, British and foreign, to write about football-related subjects important to them, be that at the highest level or the lowest, at home or abroad. Eclecticism is the key. 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.