Travelling the World in Search of Captivating Football Stories: Ryan Mason, GLORY Magazine
Glory is an independent magazine, founded by Ryan Mason, Lee Nash, and Louis Rossi. In their own words, Glory “cuts through all the negative aspects of the modern sport and explores what makes the beautiful game beautiful.” While the bulk of the content focuses on local football culture, readers also learn about where to stay, what to eat or drink, and even local fashion. With stunning imagery and inspiring stories, the high-end football and travel publication documents alternative football cultures from the most remote, exotic, and unusual destinations. We spoke with Ryan to unearth a little more about how Glory began, how they research and gather content for each issue, as well as how the recent global pandemic is affecting their plans for future editions.
So Ryan, can you tell us a bit about Glory and how it was birthed?
The idea of Glory was formed on the five o'clock train from London to Norwich. At the time I was commuting for work and spent a lot of my time reading magazines on the train. I wanted to start a new project that encompassed my love for football, photography and travel, and that’s when I came up with the idea. I knew I couldn't do this by myself so I reached out to Lee (co-founder of Glory) who got back to me straight away. After working on what we were trying to achieve it was just weeks later that we found ourselves in the Faroe Islands documenting our first trip and gathering content for the first edition.
What publications (or other creative resources and individuals) inspired Glory?
From my point of view as a photographer, I'd been reading a magazine called Cereal from the time it was released. Cereal is a high-end publication and at the time the concept was mainly travel. I was also an avid reader of football publications such as The Green Soccer Journal and Rabona.
Glory differs from many of football publications on the shelf insofar as that it focuses on a singular destination per issue. Why did you decide to structure it in this particular way?
I felt there was a gap in the market for a football publication to be dedicated to travel and culture, with each issue being focused on a specific destination. Many football publications were generic or focused on specific topics and I felt that there wasn’t anything that was doing anything involving travel. But we also didn’t want to focus on the main leagues such as the Premier League, la Liga or the Bundesliga - we wanted to highlight destinations that have a football culture, but may not be getting the coverage. So the idea was for Glory to act as a bit of a travel guide and be an educational resource as well.
"Many football publications were generic or focused on specific topics and I felt that there wasn’t anything that was doing anything involving travel."
How do you go about making an itinerary for each trip? Talk us through what it’s like when you visit a destination and how you get the best out of it.
If I compare when we went to the Faroe Islands on our first trip to our most recent, then a lot has changed. We’ve become a lot more structured, with very organised itineraries. Trips are exhausting and we work twelve to sixteen hour days in order to capture the content we require for each edition. In the first phase, once a destination has been decided, we put a lot of time into research - finding the stories, the places we need to visit, the people we need to talk to, the stadiums we need to visit, the games we need to go to, etc. But no matter how strong the itinerary is, it always changes once we’re at our destination. Once we get speaking to people, they’re like “You must go and see…” or “You must speak to…..”, so our plans change and a lot of shuffling in our schedule happens. But that’s fine - that’s always part of it and that’s what excites us. An example of this is when we went to Ireland, and we got chatting to one of the groundsman at the FAI headquarters. Once we got chatting and told him about what we do and showed him a few back issues, he said “You have to visit the pitch at Achill Island.” After a few phone calls, our itinerary changed and we ended up travelling to the West coast of Ireland to visit Achill Island, where we were met by the Club Secretary - it was this location that we got some extremely valuable content and the cover shot for Issue 04.
So far you’ve visited the Faroe Islands, Kosovo, Sweden, Ireland and Switzerland. Where would you like to go next and why?
Back in February we travelled to our Issue 06 destination and it will be our first outside Europe. For us, it was important that we went somewhere outside of Europe and experienced a completely different culture. We also travelled to Helsinki back in November for the release of our new series, City Stories. City Stories is a series of ‘mini' Glory publications focused on a specific city destination and we document a key event. So in November, we travelled to Helsinki to document Finland’s first major tournament qualification when they beat Liechtenstein to reach Euro 2020. We documented before, during, and after the game over a forty-eight hour period. We’ll be doing more editions of these in the future. I think for future issues where we go next will depend a lot on how the travel sector recovers after the global pandemic. We have short-listed a number of destinations we’d love to visit, but it will all depend on how accessible travel will be in the near future.
"As our name suggests, we’re seeking our own level of Glory through working on something we love. If it inspires people to explore, travel, and experience new football cultures, then we’re doing what we set out to achieve."
What are your plans in the meantime whilst all travel is abandoned?
Our plans in the meantime are to engage with our followers - try to deliver more Instagram Live sessions with special guests, but also a lot of work behind the scenes on how we can develop Glory further as a business.
What’s one of the most important stories you believe Glory has told?
If I had to pick one, I think it would be a story from Issue 04: Ireland edition titled Field Medicine. This tells the story of Chris McElligott who lost his leg in an accident, and how football has been a medicine in his recovery. He went on to become an Ireland International amputee footballer. It’s a truly inspiring story.
What’s the working environment like between yourself and your equally football-fanatic colleagues?
To be honest it’s all pretty respectful - when any of our teams play each other there are a number of messages that go back and forth. Being a Norwich fan though, I’m always the underdog against Lee’s Liverpool!
What have you learned about your own capabilities / limits by making Glory?
Very good question - I think what we’ve learnt is that when you have a huge passion for something and you strive to succeed, then it is truly possible. Both Lee and myself are football mad creatives with no experience of creating a publication. However, we are both very similar in the sense that we want to succeed and work within football. What the first issue allowed us to do was create a product that could be used to show our capabilities and how we envisaged Glory. In regards to limitations, we realised very quickly that we can’t do everything and there were skill-sets we lacked that we needed, such as writers. But we’ve built a team of contributors that get what Glory is all about, our tone of voice, who we can turn to when we create each edition.
Finally, as our name suggests, here at Mantra we’re curious about what keeps our favourite creatives driven and pushing forward. What’s your personal mantra, Ryan?
Photography is such a passion of mine and there are so many aspirational photographers out there whose work I look up to on a daily basis. They are setting a very high benchmark. I strive to produce work to their level and hopefully one day, who knows, my work may inspire someone. As our name suggests, we’re seeking our own level of Glory through working on something we love. If it inspires people to explore, travel, and experience new football cultures, then we’re doing what we set out to achieve.