I was born in west London in 1965, and was educated at Burlington-Danes School, a stone’s throw from the White City Stadium where the 1908 Olympic Games had been held. I studied History at St David’s University College, Lampeter, graduating in 1987, and then stayed at Lampeter for my PhD in History, which I completed in 1991 with a thesis on sport and British diplomacy in the twentieth century.
After finishing my PhD, I worked at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as a historical research assistant, and then took up my first teaching post as a Lecturer in History at King Alfred’s College, Winchester, in 1992, where I stayed until 2001, teaching a variety of courses in modern history, historiography, and sports history, on both History and Sports Studies courses. I then moved to the University of Southampton as Senior Lecturer in Sport.
So far, I have written four books. First was Moving the Goalposts: a history of sport and society since 1945 (Routledge, 1998), followed in 2000 by a reference book, An A-Z of Modern Europe since 1789 (Routledge). In 2007, based on my experience of teaching sports history on sports studies courses, I wrote the textbook Sports History: a practical guide (Palgrave). My latest book, published in 2011, is The British Olympics: Britain’s Olympic heritage 1612-2012, edited by Simon Inglis and published by English Heritage as part of their Played in Britain series. I have also written numerous journal articles on such themes as amateurism, national identity, and politics in sport, and on the history and heritage of the 1908 London Olympic Games.
As well as my writing, I have been involved in a number of film, television, and radio projects, both as a consultant and as an interviewee. These have included live spots on BBC TV news programmes, The Today Programme on BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 5Live, and TalkSport, and documentaries such as The Game of Their Lives (Verymuchso/BBC 4), The First True Olympics (BBC 4), The 1960s (UKTV History), and Word of Mouth (BBC Radio 4). I regularly speak at academic conferences, while my public speaking appearances have included events for English Heritage, the National Liberal Club, Portsmouth Grammar School, the Sports Heritage Network, the Historical Association, and primary and secondary schools. My consultancy work includes historical advice for the National Youth Theatre on their Olympic play White City/Black Country, and for the Free Word Centre on their exhibition Politics & Olympics: Ideals and Realities.