Dear reader. You may have noticed the new banner that I have on my blog and got very confused. This is understandable, for it has incontrovertibly changed. Leather & Willow? This sounds like a furniture magazine. Well I can assure you that it is not a furniture magazine, writing about one thing I don’t really know much about is hard enough for me. Leather & Willow is actually a cricket magazine. It’s a new Club and County cricket magazine that I have started. And it launches soon. Sound interesting? You BET!
It is a venture that I am undertaking with a friend of mine and although being very exciting, it would be a lie to say that it isn’t daunting. With absolutely no business acumen or intelligence whatsoever I have stumbled blindly, flapping my arms wildly and stuttering frequently into this. However, as far as I know, I haven’t messed anything up too badly just yet.
It’s an idea that I had in about November of last year through e-mails with a fellow blogger, but it didn’t really amount to anything until I met with a friend who re-pitched the idea to me and won me over. What I hope to do today is explain what we plan to do, how we plan to do it and where we hope to be once we’ve done it. So here goes.
What we plan to do:
Given the proliferation of cricket magazines on the market – The Cricketer and All Out Cricket, for example – we know that we cannot compete for the same audience that these guys draw in. So our main topic is slightly different to that of these excellent publications – for we are looking to focus on club cricket. In each issue we will focus on one county, hoping to draw out one club in particular from that county with whom we will talk. By learning about their history and their hopes for the future we will write their story. Each club is unique and interesting and this is what we want to highlight. We are talking with a club for our first issue – a club in Norfolk – but we always love to hear from other clubs who wish to be featured.
Despite our keen focus on the grassroots level of the game, we do have an eye on the international game. Through contacts that we both have in the cricketing community we managed to have an exclusive interview in the first issue with the former South African spinner Paul Harris – quite a coup for a magazine that is yet to be published. Also in the first issue is the story of B3 Cricket, a small cricket company based in Nottingham that I visited at the beginning of the month who make exceptional cricket bats.
Another of the recurring features that will be in the magazine is our ‘Ask The Ump’ segment – again, an exclusive piece by Premier League Umpire Matthew French. This will be opened up to you, our readership, who are invited, as ever, to contact us with your questions and queries that the Ump can answer for you.
It sounds like a cliche of footballing magnitude, but this really is a magazine written by cricket fans, for cricket fans.
How we plan to do it:
The huge positive that I have drawn from trying to launch this magazine has been people’s reception – and the interest people have in either contributing or having their clubs featured in the publication. Already in the first issue I have articles written by David Fidler (of wrongunatlongon fame), The Witty Cricketer, Colin Henrys and many more. And this is one of my aims for this magazine – given the difficulty of breaking into the journalism sector, the more publicity I can give to unknown writers – myself included – the better. And what’s more, all of the writers that I have in the magazine are big bloggers who know their cricket – and the insight that they have on the game is top class.
Another aspect of Leather & Willow that we are hoping will set it apart from the big boys of the industry is our commitment to the promotion of the smaller, independent bat makers. As mentioned above, visiting B3 was a massive eye opener for me. Rather than the big bat makers – Kookaburra, Gunn and Moore, Puma etc – featuring smaller companies is a subject that is close to my heart that I hope we can do in every single issue. As a very small fish in quite a large ocean, we appreciate how hard it can be – so we hope we can feed off each other!
The hope is to feature these small cricket companies and feature adverts in the magazine to try to draw in the most trade for them. We feel that the discerning village cricketer would appreciate the handmade cricket bat from a smaller company rather than the mass-produced product that the big manufacturers create. As well as adverts from bat makers, we are constantly on the look out for sports shops to advertise in our magazine. If you would like to advertise in the magazine, our contact details are at the bottom of this post.
Once we have our content and adverts, we are using a brilliant designer called Jason Panagidis who is putting it together for us. He is an excellent designer who also loves cricket – quite a find!
Where we hope to be once we’ve done it:
To be quite honest, we want this magazine to be read in every clubhouse across the country. We want cricketers to want their club featured in the next issue. We want the small bat makers up and down the country to be emailing us, wanting to be written about as they understand the amount of publicity that we can give them. We want you to know that we can feature you. We want people to go out and buy our magazine because they know that there will be excellent, insightful content written by huge cricket fans, interviews with cricketers they admire, columns giving tips on how to train harder and play better and something they might not have thought about. Something that we probably haven’t thought about either.
We want to produce a cricket magazine that we are proud of. And we know we can do it.
To get in contact with me about Leather & Willow, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.