The Blizzard magazine, brainchild of football journalist Jonathan Wilson and Peter Daykin, who runs Azure Graphic and Web Design, was born from a conversation between the two old school-friends in the Fitzgeralds pub in Sunderland.
Daykin says, ‘Jonathan was talking about the frustrations of football journalism and I said, “Look Trophy (we used to call him Trophy because of his big ears), you know all the football writers and I run a design company – if we can’t put together a decent football magazine then no-one can.”’
So began the often bizarre and entertaining journey that – a year later – has resulted in the publication of issues zero and one of The Blizzard – a magazine with no editorial line and where the only rule is ‘eclecticism is key’.
So in Issue Zero a Q&A with Turkey coach Guus Hiddink sits alongside less orthodox content such as a study of how the rejection of political liberalism in the Netherlands is reflected in the country’s football, a profile of cult German club St Pauli and a 7500-word match report of the 1991 European Cup semi-final clash between Red Star Belgrade and Bayern Munich.
A key moment in the magazine’s development was the discovery of the original Blizzard newspaper – first published in Sunderland in 1893 – which provided the inspiration and name for the present-day Blizzard.
With its Victorian typeface and two-column grid, Daykin says the new magazine ‘is very much based on old-fashioned principles’. He adds, ‘When you’ve got writing like this you want something that puts that writing first and consciously tones the design down.’
Illustrator Lawrence Canning has created the often bizarre drawings used throughout The Blizzard. Daykin says, ‘The illustrations are quite esoteric and allow us to reflect the content of an article that, for example, compares New Labour to Dennis Bergkamp using political polling theory.’
For a section of the magazine themed around sausages (really) Canning devised an illustration of a pig in a pram. ‘It allows us to create another layer of interest,’ says Daykin.
The magazine uses a cover image of a dog playing football, which Daykin discovered while searching the Internet looking for Victorian-style line drawings. After research, he discovered that the drawing was part of a mural which adorns a hotel in Australia’s Outback and portrays the hotel’s dog – simply called Dog – who often plays football to amuse guests.
Daykin phoned the hotel manager to ask permission to use the image. ‘I asked her who drew it and she said, “That was Woz who did that”, I said, “Woz? Does he have a full name?” and she replied, “Round here we just call him Woz.”’ Woz at the Kingsley Motel is duly credited in the magazine.
Issue Zero of the Blizzard was published in March and is available as a PDF download from www.theblizzard.co.uk. Issue One of the quarterly magazine launches tomorrow.