I am delighted to announce that I have joined the new panel that Historic England has set up to review candidates to be honoured with prestigious Blue Plaques.
The new scheme, which parallels English Heritage’s long-running Blue Plaque project in London, will work on places outside the capital. We hope to celebrate the lives of a range of diverse people, and to use the plaques to tell stories about extraordinary lives and community histories. The plaques will look similar to the English Heritage one for Olympic athlete Harold Abrahams, shown here.
Watch this space for announcements in 2024 as we start to award the new plaques.
I’m delighted to announce the publication today of On Your Marks, an anthology of writings about sport that I have edited for Pan Macmillan’s elegant Collector’s Library series.
This collection was my major lockdown project, as I was able to work on it in those months when libraries and archives were closed.
My brief was to bring together a collection of writings about sport by significant authors, and to curate a collection that celebrated sport while also telling something of its history. I was also keen to draw on more critical visions of sport: as I say in the Introduction, sport is ‘not all fun and togetherness’, and the collection includes explorations of violence, loss, and animal cruelty.
The biggest joy in editing the collection was in exploring so many different authors and genres. Shakespeare starts it all off, of course, with the wrestling scene in As You Like It. The poets in the collection include John Betjeman, A E Housman, Francis Thompson, and Charles Sorley, and they are joined by such novelists as Jane Austen, Walter Scott, Charles Dickens, Winfred Holtby, and Lewis Carroll. Mix in essays by William Hazlitt and George Orwell, and travel writing from Daniel Defoe and George Head, and political satire from Robert Blatchford, and you have an idea of what the book covers.
The book joins other titles on walking, food, home, and solitude in Pan Macmillan’s Collector’s Library. I’m delighted with my contribution which puts literary explorations of sport into this eclectic series.
I am giving a keynote paper at this year’s International Society for the History and Physical Education and Sport (ISHPES) annual congress. The conference was due to take place at Hokkaido University in Japan, but has moved online in response to the pandemic. It will take place on 22-23 August 2020. I’ll be joining other keynote speakers Evelise Amgarten Quitzau of UNICAMP and Bruce Kidd of the University of Toronto. Full details, and the booking form, are here: https://www.ishpes.org/congresses/2020-congress
On Saturday 8 February, I’ll be presenting the keynote paper at the Southern History Society’s Annual Conference. This year’s theme is Sport and Leisure in Southern England c,1500-1900, and the University of Winchester is hosting the event.
Other papers will explore a range of sporting histories in southern England, including golf, swimming, and hunting, and there will be two sessions on sporting cultures in specific places – Winchester itself, and the University of Reading.
My paper is called ‘The Cotswold Olimpicks: A Long History of a Small Event’, and will serve as comparative case study for the southern English themes in the other papers.
On 8 February, I’ll give the keynote paper at the Southern History Society’s annual conference. This year’s theme is sport and leisure history, and I’ll look at the long history of the Cotswold Olimpicks. The University of Winchester is the host – full details here. https://winchesterhistory.wordpress.com/
Today sees the 2019 edition of Robert Dover’s Games, also known as the Cotswold Olimpicks. I’ll write an illustrated piece on the Games next week – for now, here’s my history piece for tonight’s official programme.
My colleagues and I at the International Centre for Sports History and Culture (ICSHC) at De Montfort University are delighted to hear that Leicester City FC’s match-day programmes have won the overall ‘Programme of the Year’ and the ‘Premier League Programme of the Year’ categories for 2018/19 in the Soccer Club Swap Shop‘s annual awards. Leciester City have led the way with history and heritage pages in their programmes, a project spearheaded by John Hutchinson, their official historian.
Over the last four years, ICSHC have contributed a page to John’s history section for every home league game. These have included historical stories linked to each week’s opponents, and other pieces on topical themes. Since the start of 2017-18, we have concentrated on mini-biographies of players in the National Football Museum’s Hall of Fame, giving fans insights on careers of some of the game’s legends. I was delighted to write my first pieces in 2018-19, on Tottenham Hotspur double-winner Cliff Jones, and on Leeds United and England defender and World Cup winner Jack Charlton. My colleagues in ICSHC, including some of our emeritus professors, honorary research fellows, and PhD students have all contributed pieces.
At a time when the match-day programme as a medium is under threat, we look forward to continuing this link. Programmes form a central part of the match-day experience for many fans, free from any vagaries of wifi connections or data allowances, and they are a great format for disseminating historical research. Here’s to more success in 2019-20.
I’ve just received a copy of 1966: the 50th anniversary, which the Football Association have endorsed as the official book of the 50th anniversary of England’s only World Cup victory. This is a cracking book, beautifully illustrated and very well put together, with a quirky blend of familiar narrative of the events of that summer along with a stunning range of photographs. Action pictures from the matches are reproduced alongside pictures of all sorts of World Cup ephemera, ranging from beer mats to knitting patterns, and from ticket stubs to teacups. This book, with a foreword by hat-trick hero Geoff Hurst, serves well as a retrospective of the tournament and the (now) 50 years of hurt that this summer’s Euros in France have done nothing to end.
I would also recommend that you visit the 1966 exhibition at the National Football Museum in Manchester, which runs until April 2017. The launch in late June was a spectacular affair, with appearances by three members of the 1966 England squad – Jimmy Armfield, Bobby Charlton, and Roger Hunt – as well as members of the late Alan Ball’s family and FA leader Greg Dyke. The
Roger Hunt and Bobby Charlton
exhibition itself brings together the Jules Rimet Trophy, players’ shirts, equipment, and ephemera along with ordinary people’s stories of the tournament – and, of course, the 1966 final ball posed tantalisingly over a goal-line. The wonderful folk at the Sporting Memories Network have also got involved, and you can share your memories with them as part of their ground-breaking work to help people experiencing dementia and depression.
Last week was one of the highlights of my working year. I am one of the directors of the CIES International MA in Management, Law and Humanities of Sport, which De Montfort University co-teaches with SDA Bocconi School of Management in Milan, and the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland. The year-long course, which attracts talented students from around the world culminates in an afternoon of group presentations on the students’ chosen research topics. This year, subjects included Esports, Ethics, the pros and cons of co-hosting mega-events, the Youth Olympic Games, data analytics in sport, and so much more. The full video of the presentations is now available here. The following day, the students graduated in an inspiring ceremony at Neuchâtel Castle, where guests of honour included Fatma Samoura, Secretary-General of FIFA, and Giovanni Malagò, President of the Italian National Olympic Committee.
Congratulations to all of the students involved, and to my colleagues at CIES and the partner universities.
This September, I am hosting the annual conference of the European Committee for Sports History (CESH) at the International Centre for Sports History and Culture, De Montfort University. the conference will take place on 5-7 September inclusive. papers are welcome on any subject linked to the history of sport, physical education, and physical culture, and they can be delivered in any European language. For full details, including the Call for Papers and directions on submitting an abstract, please visit CESH’s site.