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It is important to question the relevance of sport history and to recognize our failings and our successes if we are to ensure the genre develops and contributes to society. While sport historians recognize the value, outside of this sphere, it is apparent that the subject is not always recognized for its significance. In this paper, it is argued that sport historians have a responsibility to engage more with the media and the public, while seeking opportunities to collaborate with sports organizations to ensure the subject is relevant and can develop. It is also argued that minority groups are under-represented in the sport history community, arguing that it is incumbent upon sport historians to ensure greater engagement and promotion of these groups. The paper concludes by urging those engaged in sport history to promote the discipline and develop opportunities for others.
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On this day in 1904 (23 April) Manchester found its first major trophy success. The captain and goalscorer was the great Billy Meredith. Last year, following the purchase of the oldest surviving FA Cup by Sheikh Mansour (to loan to the National Football Museum) I helped Manchester City with the story of the cup and its significance to Manchester. They’ve produced a video telling the story and it can be viewed here:
Recently, I was one of the co-authors of an academic article looking at how the FA’s ban on women’s football occurred and how it affected the development of the sport. It also compared that ban with what occurred in Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland. Some assume a ‘one size fits all’ approach but that was definitely not the case and it is important that national and regional histories of women’s football are performed to fully understand what was happening. As with men’s football, each region is different and this article was an attempt to help develop a wider understanding. You can read the article here (It’s free to download so you may as well have a look):
In that article there’s talk of a male coach who was punished by the FA for being involved in women’s football – this wasn’t in the 1920s. It was post WW2 and demonstrates that the FA Ban wasn’t simply about stopping women from playing on FA approved ground. It was more involved than that. To my knowledge, apart from an earlier biographical article I wrote, that had never been identified in academic writing or work on women’s football.
Too often people assume that what was true in, say, Birmingham was also true in Leicester. Or that research into something occurring in Burnley would explain what happened in Manchester, but it doesn’t. I’ve outlined in research into the origins of men’s football that the wider Manchester conurbation followed a different path than towns in Lancashire that were only a few miles further north than Manchester. Even within Greater Manchester what happens in Bolton or Wigan for either men’s or women’s football could be considerably different than what happened in Hyde, Altrincham or Gorton.
Here’s hoping women’s football gets the breadth of regional studies that it needs to ensure we have a good understanding of what happened town by town, region by region. My December talk at Hebden Bridge added evidence connected with that part of West Yorkshire (nowhere near enough of course!) and my project on female participation and involvement in Manchester is aiming to document how women’s football developed there, together with wider involvement and interest in football by women.
Quite a few articles appear on my website here about women’s football. Most are free to download. Use the tags, tabs, search and categories to find more. Thanks.
Together with Fiona Skillen, Helena Byrne and John Carrier I have co-authored an article on women’s football and the impact of the 1921 #FABan. The reason we wrote this academic article was to highlight that too often we assume that what happened in England is what happened across Great Britain and Ireland. It isn’t and in this piece you can read an overview of each nation and what occurred. The article is open access/free to read here:
I hope you enjoy that. We do see this article as a means of highlighting the differences and we see this as a call for more detailed research, properly triangulated, to ensure we uncover the true development of women’s football across England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland. No book has yet been published that comes anywhere close to telling the development of women’s football across each of these nations with some making assumptions that are simply not valid across each nation. Our article cannot cover everything but I hope it gives a taster for the topic.
Special thanks to Glasgow Caledonian University for making this open access. It really is appreciated.
It is worth reading the piece (well, it’s free so you may as well have a look!) to see what happened in your part of the UK and Ireland. For those with a Greater Manchester interest you’ll see mention of Manchester United, Bolton Wanderers, Manchester Corinthians and Manchester Ladies. Some interesting stuff on crowds. Also, if you’re a fan of Stoke City, Manchester City, Manchester United, Oldham Athletic or Everton you can see what happened to their former player Jimmy Broad when he tried to train a women’s football team in the 1950s!
I have written other academic articles on women’s football but these tend to be behind a publisher’s paywall. If you have access via a library or university here’s one that may be of interest:
On Friday 3 I’ll be talking about the FA ban on women playing on FA affiliated grounds. It will be the centenary of the ban on December 5 2021 and ill be talking with women who played during the ban in the 50s and 60s and others who played in the 70s onwards. Incredibly the FA ban wasn’t lifted until 1970 and even then the FA did nothing to promote female participation. Details of the talk below (follow the link):
By the time professional football came to prominence as the leading working class sporting activity in the late nineteenth century the sport of pedestrianism was in decline. Pedestrians and trainers had to find alternative means of income and, for some, football provided a new focus for their skills, crafted through experience and passed on through familial and community links. This paper considers the life of Jimmy Broad, a competitor in pedestrian challenges, who went on to establish a career as a successful football trainer, and highlights how his career adapted. It also provides commentary on the training techniques utilized by Broad and goes on to outline the careers of his sons, one of whom also became a football trainer. The story of the Broads is of importance to those studying sport’s development during the late 1800s and early 1900s, and provides an understanding of one of the influential figures behind Manchester’s first footballing success. It adds to the research into athletic entrepreneurs which has seen the construction of individual biographies to aid understanding of sport’s development.
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My City Voices project was launched a couple of weeks ago. The project is looking to catalogue the stories and experiences of Manchester City fans through the decades. The aim is to capture as many different voices and experiences as possible to allow a detailed history of what being a Manchester City fan has been like throughout the years.
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been a Blue for ninety years or nine; whether you come from the City Of Manchester or elsewhere – all views count and are of interest.
Over the three decades or so since I first started researching and writing about Manchester football I have been keen to record the experiences of fans. Back in the 1990s I recorded the stories of City supporters who could talk about the 1910s and attending games at Hyde Road. I know now that fans who can talk of specific moments at Hyde Road are no longer with us – time causes us to lose so many stories and voices. It is therefore vital we capture the stories of our family, friends and so on while we can.
Recently, I’ve been sorting through some of the items my mum has kept over the years and I rediscovered my old Brother typewriter. My mum died during 2020 and it has been extremely tough at times for my dad and the family in general. I know a lot of people have experienced great sadness over the last year and my thoughts are with everyone who has suffered a tragedy during this time. It’s been a tough year.
I thought I’d got rid of the typewriter many, many years ago and so seeing it brought back many memories. It reminded me of some of my earliest writing on football and so I thought I’d share on my blog the story of this typewriter.
I bought this typewriter with the royalties from my first book – I can’t remember exactly how much it cost but I know I just about earned enough to pay for it. My first book was ‘From Maine Men To Banana Citizens’ (a pictorial history of Manchester City) which was published in April 1989. I’d handwritten that book! Fortunately, as it was a pictorial history there actually wasn’t much writing – just captions really.
As I’d handwritten the captions and posted them to the publisher there were times when they misread my writing. I had written the captions in capitals mainly, but my writing in whatever style is awful (at primary school my headteacher – an obsessed MUFC fan – used to tell me my writing was like a ‘drunken spider walking across the page’). Words like ‘the’ would occasionally read as ‘one’ to those unfamiliar with my poor writing.
In From Maine Men to Banana Citizens some of my writing was misread and wasn’t picked up in the review process and so I know there are a few ‘one’s where ‘the’s should be (if you’ve got the book see if you can spot any!).
Once the book was published and I spotted these I knew I needed to get a typewriter. Once I’d received my royalties I bought my electric Brother typewriter. I bought a Brother typewriter because they were Manchester City’s sponsors at the time and I wanted my money to go to a company that supported people I approved of (and some think sponsorship doesn’t influence).
I was still living at my parents back then and I used the typewriter to write my sections of my second book The Pride of Manchester (co-written with Steve Cawley). This book told the story of the Manchester derby and we could every friendly and competitive game from 1880 through to publication in 1991. As the book was really a game by game story of the derby I would type a page or so at a time and the typewriter meant it wasn’t too laborious – the laborious aspect was the in-depth research.
The book was published in 1991 by which time I was already researching and writing my third book – Football With A Smile: The Authorised Biography of Joe Mercer, OBE. I soon realised that due to the volume of writing each chapter needed and the amount of times I’d changed the flow/tone of each chapter that using a typewriter was proving to be time consuming. I decided that I needed to buy something different. My Pride Of Manchester co-author Steve owned an Amstrad PCW and this seemed to offer more flexibility.
I then used the royalties from my second book to buy an Amstrad PCW like Steve’s. It cost me about the same amount my typewriter had cost and my royalties had once again been spent – I soon realised that it was nigh on impossible to make money from writing about football!
The Amstrad PCW did make my writing life easier (until of course I could afford a PC – from the combined royalties of my Joe Mercer book AND my fourth book, Manchester The Greatest City, published in 1997!) although I had a problem with a damaged Amstrad disk which meant I lost the entire first chapter of the Mercer book. I’d been crafting it for weeks trying to get it right and then my own stupidity meant the disk became damaged. I couldn’t bear to start again – and I hadn’t backed it up (first major lesson!) – and so I wrote the rest of the book before I came back to chapter one. When I did write the new chapter one I knew (and still know) that it is not as good as the one I lost.
When I moved out of my parents’ house I took my Amstrad PCW as I was still writing the Mercer book but I must have left behind the Brother typewriter. I don’t remember ever seeing it after that until I rediscovered it the other week, almost 30 years after I last used it.
When Covid allows I’ll take the Brother typewriter to a charity shop and, hopefully, it will find a new life for itself. It served its purpose back in 1989-91 but maybe there’s still a bit of life left in it.
Who knows how many Amstrads, PCs, Apple products and so on I’ve been through since I bought my brother. Most are long gone, but somehow the Brother survived.
Liverpool and Manchester United meet this weekend (17th January 2021) in the Premier League. It’s a game that throughout the modern era has been played between two major clubs, hoping for success. This has not always been the case of course and in 1914-15 a notorious game between the two teams was deemed to be fixed.
Why and how has been debated for years but here, for the benefit of subscribers to http://www.GJFootballArchive.com I spell out the full story of the game and the investigations that followed. Some of what follows is astounding, but it’s all factually correct and based on contemporary material and detailed research.
The following article contains over 4,000 words plus a photograph from the game.
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