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.
Read more on this story here.
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
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.
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.
I’m delighted to announce that Palgrave have launched a new series of books, Palgrave Studies in Sport and Politics, which I am editing. The series will explore various aspects of the complex inter-relationships between sport and politics. It will include books with a historical focus, and those with a more contemporary approach, and it will encourage contributions that consider politics in the broadest sense, with themes such as: sport and the state; non-state political agencies and organisations; governance and the internal politics of sports organisations; sport and diplomacy; sport and war; sport, security, and terrorism; sport and political ideology; sport and human rights; sport and law; sport and policy; sports development; sport and political dissidence and protest; sport and cultural politics; sport and identity politics; sport and the politics of gender, class, ethnicity, age, sexuality, religion, and disability. I’ll be working with an international editorial board to develop this series, which will include monographs and edited collections.
The first two books in the series are already out. Luke Harris kicked it off with his Britain and the Olympic Games, 1908-1920: perspectives on participation and identity. This will be joined very soon by Kevin Blackburn’s War, Sport and the Anzac Tradition.
If you are interested in submitting a proposal for a book, or in discussing an idea informally, please contact me direct through this site, or click on the Publishing With Us tab on the series’ home site.
The new update of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is now available online – you can subscribe through public and university library systems. This year’s update covers significant Britons who died in 2012, ranging from historian Eric Hobsbawm to novelist Miss Read via actor Herbert Lom, Monkee Davey Jones, and photojournalst Eve Arnold. I’ve written the piece on Liz Ferris (1940-2012), the diver who got the bronze medal in the 3m springboard event at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, and who then went on to play a leading role in debates about gender equality at the Olympic Games.
On Wednesday 27 January, West Suffolk College in Bury St Edmund’s will be holding its first Festival of History and English, with speakers from both subject areas giving papers on a range of themes for current and prospective students and anyone with an interest. I’ll be speaking on Britian’s Olimpick, Olympic, and Olympian History, 1612-2012. Other speakers and their subjects are Rebecca Pinner of UEA on ‘Arrows, Wolves and Wuffings: Finding St Edmund in East Anglian Churches’, John Gardner of Anglia Ruskin on ‘Poetry, Protest, Rebellion and Repression in Britain in after Waterloo’, Dilwyn Porter of DMU on ‘The ‘Daily Mirror’, its readers and their money, c.1960-2000′, Emily Crane of King Edward IV School on ‘Art, Literature and Film in post-colonial India: The Legacy of Rabindranath Tagore’, and Adrian May of the University of Essex on ‘The Poet and Song’.
Click here for full details of the Festival.
I’ve just visited ‘The Lyons Teashops Lithographs: Art in a Time of Austerity 1946 – 1955’, the wonderful exhibition of late 1940s and early 1950s prints that has been curated by Towner at Eastbourne. It’s currently on at the National Trust’s Mottisfont in Hampshire.
J. Lyon’s & Co , that mainstay of the British catering industry from the 1920s until the 1960s, commissioned a series of prints from leading artists in 1946 in order to brighten up their cornerhouses. The artists, including Duncan Grant, John Nash, and L.S.Lowry, were commissioned to produce images of Britain, and the slice of life that emerged included numerous representations of sport and leisure.
Anthony Gross celebrates the rural idyll of a village cricket match, but one in which the main action is amongst the spectators: boys arrange the numbers for the scoreboard or coax beetles from matchboxes to fight each other, while young men in blazers watch the action intently from their deck chairs while a young girl, looking bored, turns her back on the game. This print is reminiscent of some Victorian genre paintings of sport, such as Frith’s Derby Day, in which the play is of secondary importance to the social life of the crowd. Rural peace also features in John Nash’s Landscape with Bathers, which feels like something of a British response to Seurat’s Bathers at Asnières, with two women reclining on the riverbank after a swim, ignored by a lone angler further down to the shore. WHO included scullers in his view of the Thames at Putney, stroking their way amongst the industrial and passenger traffic on the river.
Scenes from more working class sport and leisure also made their way into the series. Sam Rabin’s The Last Round has three figures – two boxers and their referee – against a stark canvas, their faces abstracted so that we concentrate only on the shapes of their interaction against the vast neutral space of the ring. In Ruskin Spear’s Billiard Saloon, we can almost taste the smoke that hangs like a fug under the table lamp as a player lines up a shot while his opponent, head hidden in the darkness, chalks his cue.
The slice of British life covered in these prints reminds us of the diversity of popular culture, and of the range of sites – urban and rural, indoor and outdoor, commercial and free – that made up the leisure landscape. The prints have some things in common with the Your Britain: Fight For It Now posters of the Second World War, and there is also some resonance with the examples of cultural identification that T.S. Eliot listed in his 1948 Notes Towards the Definition of Culture: ‘It includes all the characteristic activities and interests of a people: Derby Day, Henley Regatta, Cowes, the twelfth of August, a cup final, the dog races, the pin table, the dart board, Wensleydale cheese, boiled cabbage cut into sections, beetroot in vinegar, nineteenth-century Gothic churches and the music of Elgar.” The collection at Mottisfont takes us into this culture, and suggests to us the ways in which people drinking tea at their leisure in the Lyon’s corner houses could look on the country’s culture of sport and play, and see themselves reflected back.