The beautiful game on paper
The football magazine market has long been dominated by a small number of titles. But the arrival of magazines such as The Green Soccer Journal and The Blizzard could signal the start of a cleaner and classier trend among football publications.
These new magazines provide two different views on football, both with separate qualities. Together, they focus more on the art, culture and fashion side of the game whilst still providing articles on news and topical football articles targeting the cultured football fan’s taste.
Inside both, you will find interviews with various football luminaries plus case studies that buck the trend of typical football publications.
The Blizzard, now in its fourth issue, has benefited from seasoned journalist contributors such as Gabriele Marcotti and Simon Kuper as well as the editorial leadership of former LCC sports journalism lecturer, Jonathan Wilson, whose ethos is to “provide neither a magazine or a book, but somewhere in between.”
Insightful and artistic
The Green Soccer Journal, similarly fresh in only its third issue, also publishes serious football writers coupled with insightful and art-orientated photography.
In their first issue, The Green Soccer Journal featured a selection of images of Manchester City’s Etihad stadium and their training ground by Neil Bedford. The photographs were published unsupported by copy, something rarely seen in an everyday football magazine.
The Green Soccer Journal has a two-man editorial team with a graphic design background. Joint Editors, Adam Towle and James Roper, a CSM graphic design alumni, run the magazine from their Junior Junior studio in Dalston.
Towle said: “What sets us apart from other titles focusing on football would be that we curate each issue to follow a certain theme which in turn creates a focused body of work.
“We also put a lot of emphasis on aesthetics from the imagery we produce down to way the magazine looks graphically and feels.”
Spiel, a similar magazine to The Green Soccer Journal based in Liverpool, has also recently hit the market with its trendy take on football. As a concept for a magazine this is not new. The fashion
publication industry is littered with aesthetically minimal designs. Where these titles have found their niche is in combining the detailed design in production with thorough and concise football journalism.
When Saturday Comes (WSC) has been a favourite with the articulate football fan for more than 25 years. It spawned from the football fanzines synonymous with grounds in the 1980s, where each club would have a ‘zine publication run by the fans for the fans without the stewardship of the clubs.
They became platforms for protest, news and jokes about their clubs, something that has now evolved into online forums such as Leeds United fans’ The Scratching Shed or Manchester United’s The Red Café. WSC was a natural progression from the club-based fanzines into a national publication that would share inquisitive stories from across world football.
Co-founder and Editor, Andy Lyons, said: “Clearly the spread of internet forums has affected the way that club-specific zines are produced. A lot of printed zines have now moved entirely online. We see our online coverage, which we’re looking to expand, as a complement to the print edition rather than a replacement for it.”
This supplementary mentality – rather than a concentrated one – towards online is shared by the new blood. Both The Green Soccer Journal and The Blizzard have well-maintained and organised websites although the primary focus is to sell, promote and share their individual publications and, somtimes, branded products.
WSC is printed bi-monthly on basic paper, bound with staples and heavily directed towards its content rather than its design, something that suits its loyal readership of nearly 20,000.
Speaking of the production values at WSC, Lyons said, “WSC has always been published using whatever financial means happened to be at our disposal. We only went full-colour in the mid 1990s!”
The next progression in the educated football publication from the WSC fanzine, it seems, is towards the art-directed magazines of The Green Soccer Journal and The Blizzard, the task they now face is to establish themselves in the market.
“By September we will have launched the brand in print and online,” forecasts Towle of The Green Soccer Journal.
“We are looking to combine elements of retail and host our own events to help the magazine grow and perform with a brand focus.”
This new breed will not replace the likes of WSC or the hugely popular mainstream football magazines such as FourFourTwo. The readership of both are a loyal bunch. What The Green Soccer Journal and The Blizzard offer are new homes for cultured reflective insight and in-depth concise journalism respectivley.
Pictures courtesy of 'The Green Soccer Journal' and 'The Blizzard'.