RADIOHEAD, a Sunderland newspaper from 1893, and a drunken post-match celebration have sparked a revolution in football writing.
They may be an odd bunch to link together, but have all played a part in the launch of The Blizzard, a new magazine featuring a host of journalists and authors.
Word-of-mouth saw an online pilot – labelled Issue Zero – downloaded in 145 countries, prompting those behind the Ashbrooke-based publication to commission a print run and more issues.
The Blizzard is named after a short-lived Victorian Wearside newspaper, and features in-depth pieces from some of the world’s most acclaimed football journalists, including Gabrielle Marcotti and Uli Hesse.
Articles in the 188-page first issue include Roy of the Rovers blamed “for poisoning the wells of English football,” abolishing the away goals rule, and St Pauli’s efforts to preserve their counter-culture credentials in the Bundesliga, while the next compares Don Revie and Richard Nixon.
Sunderland AFC fans Jonathan Wilson and Peter Daykin came up with the idea while drinking in Fitzgeralds pub in Green Terrace, buoyed by the Black Cats’ 4-0 win over Bolton a year ago.
Jonathan, 34, grew up in South Bents and is an award-winning author and freelance football correspondent for national newspapers. He says The Blizzard is trying to fill a gap in the market.
The magazine is being run as a profit share for the writers, and has a novel pricing structure, as the digital download pilot is available on a pay-what-you-like basis.
The RRP is £3, but readers can pay as little as 1p.
“Pay-what-you-like isn’t our idea,” said Peter, from Ashbrooke, who runs graphic and website design firm Azure.
“Radiohead famously released In Rainbows this way, and there are a handful of restaurants and cafés that operate similar pricing strategies.
“To our knowledge though, it is not an approach that has been tried in journalism.”
Jonathan said football fans have been “realistic” and “responsible” with their payments.
He added: “If we can now persuade the people who have bought and enjoyed the digital version to commit to a print subscription, we have all the makings of a sustainable title for years to come.”
For details visit www.theblizzard.co.uk