Manchester Football Writing Festival: Celebrating football writing

By Laura Jones. The music festival season may have come to an end, but football writing’s Glastonbury is about to take to the stage in Manchester. Laura Jones takes a look at the headlining acts.

There’s been a lot of navel-gazing from football writers over the past 18 months. Articles and blogs have circulated about the end of blogging and journalists complaining about people writing about football for free.

The future of football online may be vlogging, SEO (search engine optimization) driven content and Snapchatselfies but the written word will always be here. Isn’t it time we celebrated the power writing has to evoke our match day memories? The Manchester Football Writing Festival aims to do just that.

The 'Glastonbury' of Football Writing is almost upon us

The ‘Glastonbury’ of football writing is almost upon us

Organiser Matt Gardiner had the idea after reading about the London Sports Writing Festival, hosted at Lords, last October. Along with the Festival of Football Ideas in Bristol, in the run up to the World Cup, these events look at the sport from an arts perspective.

Matt believes that this is a ‘golden age’ for football writing and it’s hard to disagree with him looking at his headliners. The festival starts on September 4, with the Guardian’s Football Weekly podcast being broadcast live from Manchester.

Events also include talks, seminars and panel events from writers such as Sid Lowe, Patrick Barclay, David Conn, James Richardson, Iain Macintosh and Jonathan Wilson. Wilson will be closing the festival on September 12 with The Blizzard Live, a writer and audience participation event from the people who run the cult magazine.

The festival boasts prominent football writers such as Sid Lowe (pictured), James Richardson and more

The festival boasts prominent football writers such as Sid Lowe (pictured), James Richardson and more

Matt Gardiner thinks that it’s publications like The Blizzard that have, “expanded people’s boundaries in terms of what can be written about”.

The organiser say the festival is aimed at anyone who loves football. He told me: “It’s great to read in newspapers, magazines or listen to people on radio and TV but it is something special to be able to interact with them in person and hopefully people will get that opportunity at the festival.”

Having seen David Goldblatt passionately discuss his book Futebol Nation, at the Festival of Football Ideas, I walked away enthused and with a new found intrigue about Brazilian football. If the Manchester events can evoke anywhere near this kind of reaction it will be a huge success.

Unlike the Festival of Football Ideas in Bristol, which included art, film and poetry, the Manchester festival is very much about football writing. From the line up it also lacks diversity, which the organisers are fully aware of. The lack of women in mainstream football publishing is stark and it’s the reason given as to why there are no women on the bill.  It’s something they hope to rectify with their next event. After all Glastonbury at least had Dolly Parton.

The Manchester Football Writing Festival runs from September 4-12 with events held across the city including the National Football Museum and is sponsored by Waterstones, Deansgate.

Read more from Laura Jones here!



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