Moving the Goalposts: a history of sport and society since 1945, London: Routledge, 1998


A-Z of Modern Europe 1789-1999, London: Routledge, 2000


Sports History: a practical guide, Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2007 Buy Here


The British Olympics: Britain’s Olympic Heritage 1612-2012, London: English Heritage, 2011 Buy Here


On Your Marks: selected writings about all kinds of sports, London: Pan Macmillan, 2022 Buy here


Journal Articles

‘Olympic Diplomacy: the British Government and the projected 1940 Olympic Games’, International Journal of the History of Sport, 9, 2, 1992

‘“No Business of Ours”?: The Foreign Office and the Olympic Games, 1896-1914’, International Journal of the History of Sport, 13, 2, 1996

‘The British Government and the Olympic Games in the 1930s, The Sports Historian, 17, 1, 1997

‘The Diplomatic Background to the 1966 Football World Cup, The Sports Historian, 18, 2, 1998

‘The amateur ideal and British sports diplomacy, 1900-1945’, Sport in History 26, 3, 2006

‘From Windsor Castle to White City: the 1908 London Olympic Marathon route’, London Journal, 34, 2, 2009

‘“The Archive of the Feet”: Field walking in sports history’, Journal of Sports History, 37, 1, 2010

‘Was Sport and the British a foundational text? The view of the next generation’, Sport in History, 31, 2, 2011

‘A Historian in Trainers: researching and contesting the Cotswold Olimpicks and the Much Wenlock Olympian Games’, British Library, Sport & Society, January 2012

Stephen Escritt and Martin Polley, ‘Game Control’, Index on Censorship, 41, 2, 2012

‘Hampshire and the Olympic Games: a local history of a global event’, Journal of Sports History, 39, 1, 2012

Review Article on Olympic politics, International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 4, 3, 2012

‘The 1908 Olympics and the Entente Cordiale’, Stadion, 38/39, 2012/2013

‘Knitting and the Olympic Games: Clothing, Competition, Culture, and Commerce’Textile, 12, 1, 2014

‘A Fine Solidarity in the Life of the Countryside’: The Ashbees and Sport in the Cotswolds, 1902-1907, International Journal of the History of Sport, 2021 online edition here: subscription needed.

Chapters in Edited Collections

‘Great Britain and the Olympic Games, 1896-1908’, in Eldridge, C. (ed.), Empire, Politics and Popular Culture: essays in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century British History, Lampeter: Trivium, 1989

‘The Economic Base for Overlord’, in Doughty, M. (ed.), Hampshire and D-Day, Crediton: Hampshire Books, 1994 Buy Here

‘Croquet’, ‘Greyhound Racing’, and ‘Polo’, in Cox, R., Jarvie, G. and Vamplew, W. (eds), Encyclopaedia of British Sport, Oxford: ABC-Clio, 2000 Buy Here

‘“The Amateur Rules”: amateurism and professionalism in post-war British athletics in Smith, A. and Porter, D. (eds) Amateurs and Professionals in Post-War British Sport, London: Frank Cass, 2000 Buy Here

‘Sport and Politics’, in Galligan, F. (ed.), Sports History for A-level Physical Education, London: Sports History Publishing, 2001

‘History and Sport’, in Houlihan, B. (ed.), Sport and Society: a student introduction, London: SAGE, 2003 Buy Here

‘Sport and National Identity in Contemporary England’, in Smith, A. and Porter, D. (eds), Sport and National Identity in the Post-War World, London: Routledge, 2004

‘History and Sport, in Houlihan, B. (ed.), Sport and Society: a student introduction (2nd edition), London: SAGE, 2008 Buy Here

‘Sports Development in the nineteenth century British public schools’, in Houlihan, B. and Green, M. (eds), The Routledge Handbook of Sports Development, Abingdon: Routledge,  2010

‘Inspire a Publication: books, journals and the 2012 London Olympic Games and Paralympics’, in Girginov, Vassil (ed.) Handbook of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Volume 2: Celebrating the Games, Abingdon: Routledge, 2013

‘Sport, Gender and Sexuality at the 1908 London Olympic Games’, in Anderson, E. and Hargreaves, J. (eds), The Routledge Handbook of Sport, Gender and SexualityRoutledge, 2014

‘History and Sport Studies: some methodological reflections on undergraduate teaching’, in Delheye, P. (ed), Making Sport History: disciplines, identities and the historiography of sportRoutledge: 2014. 

‘The 1908 Olympic Games: a case study in accidental and incidental legacies’, in Holt, R. and Ruta, D. (eds), The Routledge Handbook of Sport and Legacy: meeting the challenge of major sports eventsRoutledge: 2015.

Martin Polley and Fiona Skillen, ‘History and Sport, in Houlihan, B. and Malcolm, D. (eds), Sport and Society: a student introduction (3rd edition), London: SAGE, 2015

Contributions to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Christopher Brasher, athlete and administrator (1928-2003) (2007)

Donald Thompson, athlete (1933-2006) (2010)

Andy Norman, athletics administrator and promoter (1943-2007) (2011)

William Applegarth, athlete (1890-1958) (2012)

Jack London, athlete (1905-66) (2012)

Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins, snooker player (1949-2010) (2013)

Liz Ferris, Olympic diver and gender equality activist (1940-2012) (2016)

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Magazine and Newspaper Articles

‘A Classy Game’, Ancestors, August 2009

‘Swimsuits and Sweaters: what historians can learn from knitting patterns’, Knitting Traditions, 2012

‘In a League of its Own: sport and human rights’, The Independent blog, 18 June 2012

‘Olympic Record’, London Planner, July/August 2012

Kathryn Hanks and Martin Polley, ‘London’s Olympic History’, In London, Summer 2012

‘London’s Parks and London’s Olympic Games’, London Landscapes, 2012

‘Poets and Olympians reforge their link’, Daily Telegraph, Review Section, 7 July 2012

Recent Keynote Papers

In Pietri’s Footsteps: the 1908 Olympic Marathon route, ‘Olympic City: London 1908-1948-2012’, Centre for Contemporary British History, 2008

Sport and English Identity, Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism, London School of Economics, 2008

Sweaters and Swimsuits: knitting patterns as historical sources, ‘Centers and Peripheries in Sport’, University of Malmö, 2010

Richard Holt’s Sport and the British: the view of the next generation, ‘Historians on Sport’, International Centre for Sports History and Culture, De Montfort University, 2010

Olimpick, Olympian and Olympic: alternative British histories, ‘Beyond the Leisure Dome’, British Sociological Association/British Library, British Library, 2011

The Morpeth Olympic Games, ‘Played in Tyne and Wear’, English Heritage/Tyne and Wear Museums, Shipley Art Gallery, 2011

Hampshire and the Olympic Games: a local history of a global event, ‘Leisure in Transition: People, Policy and Places’, Leisure Studies Association, Southampton Solent University, 2011

A History of the Olympic Games in England, National Liberal Club’s Political and Economic Circle, 2011

The British Olympics, English Heritage Members’ Event, Stratford, 2011

The British Olympics, University of Winchester’s 12 For 12 Project, 2011

‘London’s Parks and London’s Olympic Games’, London Parks and Gardens Trust, Garden Museum, 2012

‘From Olympia to the Olympic Games’, The Ides of March Lecture, Portsmouth Grammar School, 2012

‘The British Olympics’, Brympton Festival, 2012

‘Goalposts and Googlies: sport and the English language’, Winchester English Language Student Conference, University of Winchester, 2012 (Keynote)

‘The Olympic Games in History’, Moving the Goalposts: Sport in Transition, Sports Heritage Network, Lord’s Cricket Ground, 2012 (Keynote)

‘Hampshire and the Olympic Games: a local history of a global event’, Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society, Hampshire Record Office, 2012

‘The Morpeth Olympic Games’, Northumbrian Gathering, Morpeth Town Hall, 2012

‘Britain’s Healthiest Sons and the Danish Dianas: Gender at the 1908 Olympic Games’, Sports and the City, University of Westminster, 2012

‘Olympic, Olimpick and Olympian: British re-imaginings between Zeus and Coubertin’, public lecture for the Department of Greek and Latin, University College London, 2012

Beijing Taxi: member of post-screening discussion at Curzon Soho with director Miao Wang and Professor Richard Burdett, 2012

‘West London’s Olympic Heritage’, Ealing Library, 2012

‘Olympic, Olimpick and Olympian: British re-imaginings between Zeus and Coubertin’, Anglo-American Conference, Institute of Historical Research, 2012

‘In a League of its Own: is sport above human rights?’, launch event for Index on Censorship, Free Word Centre, 2012

‘What do the Olympics mean to us?’, panellist in the Daily Telegraph debate, Dartington Ways With Words Festival, 2012

Opening talk at Philosophy Football’s Alternative Olympic Opening Ceremony Party, 2012

‘From Zeus to Coubertin’, Swansea Classical Society, National Waterfront Museum, 2012

‘London’s Olympic History’, Castlehaven Community Association Help Elderly Local People Scheme, Camden, 2012

‘Britain’s Olympic History’, American Women’s Club, London, 2012

1936: member of post-performance panel of Tom McNab’s play on the 1936 Olympic Games, Lillian Bayliss Theatre, London, 2012

‘Politics & Olympics: Ideals and Realities’, Chatham House/Free Word Centre, 2012

‘The British Olympics: exploring Britain’s Olympic heritage, 1612-2012’, ARLIS (Art Libraries Society) annual conference, 2012 (Keynote)

‘Knitting and the Olympic Games’, In The Loop 3, University of Southampton/ Hampshire County Council, 2012 (Keynote)

‘Sweaters and Swimsuits: knitting patterns as historical sources’, The Material Culture of Sport, Design History Society annual conference, University of Brighton, 2012

‘Olympic, Olimpick, and Olympian: Britain’s alternative Olympic histories’, Historical Association, Cardiff Branch, 2012

‘The Olympics and L’Entente Cordiale: The 1908 London Olympic Games and the Franco-British Exhibition’, Hosting, Organising and Celebrating the Olympics, University of Rouen, 2012 (Keynote, and member of the Scientific Committee)

‘The Women of the 1908 Olympics’, Anita White Foundation, University of Chichester, 2013

‘Knitting and the Olympics: clothing, competition, culture, and control’, Invited Speaker for the AGM of the Knitting and Crochet Guild, 2013

‘Sport, empire, and diplomacy: British international sport in the 19th and 20th centuries’, Comparative Sport History Seminar between the UK and Japan, Yamaguchi University (Yoshida Campus), Yamaguchi, Japan, 13 March 2014

‘Sport, empire, and diplomacy: British international sport in the 19th and 20th centuries’, Comparative Sport History Seminar between the UK and Japan, Ryukoju University (Omiya Campus), Kyoto, Japan, 16 March 2014

Media work

The Game of Their Lives (BBC4 and cinema release, 2002)

  • Interviewee and consultant on documentary about the North Korean team at the 1966 FIFA World Cup: winner of the Royal Television Society’s 2003 award for best sports documentary

Red Games (BBC Radio 4, 2004):

  • Interviewee on documentary on the interwar Workers’ Olympiads

The People’s D-Day (BBC Radio 4, 2004):

  • Interviewee on documentary about Hampshire and Operation Overlord

The 1960s: the Beatles Decade (UKTV History, 2007)

  • Interviewee on documentary series about popular culture in the 1960s

The History of the Olympics in England (Winchester City Council, 2008)

  • Podcast as part of Winchester City Council’s Cultural Olympiad project

The First True Olympics (BBC 4/Great North Run Cultural Programme, 2008)

  • Interviewee and consultant on documentary film about the 1908 London Olympic Games

The Things We Forgot to Remember (BBC Radio 4, 22 November 2010)

  • Interviewee and consultant on documentary about the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games

The George Lamb Show (Talksport Radio)

  • Regular live contributor on historical sporting themes, 2011
Word of Mouth (BBC Radio 4, 2012)
  • Interviewee on documentary about the history of the word ‘Olympic’

The Long View (BBC Radio 4, 2012)

  • historical consultant and interviewee on London’s Olympic history

Mud Men (ITN History, in production for 2013 broadcast)

  • interviewee on the history of sport.

I have undertaken numerous interviews (live and pre-recorded) for television and radio news programmes on various historical, social, cultural, and political aspects of sport during major events, including the Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games, the FIFA World Cup, and the Rugby Union World Cup. These have been for BBC News at Ten, BBC TV News Channel (including three sessions as ‘presenter’s friend’ during the 2012 Olympic Games), BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC South Today, BBC Radio 4 (including The Today Programme and PM), numerous BBC local radio stations, TalkSport Radio, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Television, Australian Broadcasting Company (radio), Japan Broadcasting Corporation (television), UT-1 (Ukrainian state television), and Slovenian state radio. I have been a named interviewee in articles in a number of newspapers, including The Times, The Guardian, the New York Times, and, through interviews with Reuters and Associated Press, newspapers in the USA, Japan, and India.


St Bede Church of England Primary School, Winchester: historical advisor on Voices, a creative writing project on Olympic history for Year 5 and 6 chuldren funded through the Cultural Olympiad, 2010.

National Youth Theatre: historical advisor on White City/Black Country, a new play on Olympic history that premiered in August 2011 at the Black Country Living History Museum, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Anton Junior School, Andover: historical advisor on the Olympic Games and the Paralympics, 2012.

Free Word Centre: historical consultant on Politics & Olympics: Ideals and Realities, 1 May to 9 September 2012.

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