It’s with a certain sense of disbelief that we begin our eighth year as a magazine. We’ve already produced more than twice as many issues as the original Blizzard, Sidney Duncan’s Sunderland-based newspaper from which we borrowed a masthead. We’re approaching 2.5million words now ¬ or, to put it another way, seven years of The Blizzard have produced almost 10 times as many words as James Joyce did in the seven years it took him to write Ulysses. It’s true that most would suggest Ulysses is of more cultural significance, but ask yourself this: which takes up more shelf space at the British Library?#

Yet while it seems barely credible that it’s eight years since the discussion in Fitzgerald’s that led to the foundation of The Blizzard, the global landscape is almost unimaginably different. Back then, Britain was still two months from the general election that would lead us down the path to austerity, alienation and the present intolerance.

The topic of Brexit has lurked behind a number of recent articles. Here we tackle it directly, looking at the impact it will have on football, how football in some ways predicted the cultural forces that would lead to the Leave vote in 2016 and how partisanship and behavioural patterns that long soured football discourse are now replicated in a political arena.

While I would hope The Blizzard remains politically and culturally engaged, we have also always been eclectic and hopefully that will remain so. This issue also features reminiscences from Brazilian football in the sixties; a consideration of the friendship between Danny Blanchflower and the music theorist Hans Keller; a profile of perhaps the greatest Assyrian footballer, Youra Eshaya; a look at how the Nevilles and the Gallaghers have shaped Manchester; and a memoir of growing up an Ipswich fan in early eighties South Africa; as well as interviews with Didier Drogba, Andi Herzog and Carlos Alberto Parreira.

As I’ve noted before, there should be nothing remarkable about this. Football happens all round the world so stories crop up all round the world. And yet in the current climate it feels important. The history of football is to a large extent a history of immigration. Coaches and players travelled and took ideas with them, introducing them to new environments where they sprouted in often unexpected ways, driving the evolution of the game (Joyce, of course, was a Dubliner who wrote Ulysses in Trieste, Zurich and Paris). Football developed through openness, tolerance and inquisitiveness and those are the values The Blizzard hopes to reflect.

To do that, we continue to need your help. We have no advertising or marketing budget, so please do help us to spread the word, especially now it’s possible to read three free pieces per month on our website, to which all those 2.5million words have now been uploaded.