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Professor Matthew Taylor

Job: Professor of History

Faculty: Art, Design and Humanities

School/department: School of Humanities

Research group(s): International Centre for Sports History and Culture

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, UK, LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 257 7399

E: mtaylor@dmu.ac.uk

W: www.dmu.ac.uk/sportshistory


Personal profile

Matthew Taylor is Professor of History in the International Centre for Sports History and Culture, having formerly been Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Portsmouth.

A social historian with an expertise in the history of sport and recreation, his research focuses on a range of issues relating to the development of sport in Britain, Europe and the wider world and he has published widely in this area.  He is the author of The Leaguers: The Making of Professional Football in England, 1900-1939 (Liverpool University Press, 2005) and the co-author (with Pierre Lanfranchi) of Moving With the Ball: The Migration of Professional Footballers (Berg, 2001).  His The Association Game: A History of British Football (Longman, 2008) is the first general study of the history and historiography of British football.  Football: A Short History (Shire Books, 2011) adapted and summarised this research for a general readership.

He has presented numerous papers at international conferences, contributed entries to international encyclopaedias and referred for leading journals and book publishers.  He is currently working on a social history of British boxing (with Martin Johnes of Swansea University), an edited volume on ‘Sport and Global History’ and a study of Sport and Civilian Morale in the Second World War.  Other research interests include the development of trade unionism in the entertainment industry, Mass Observation writing on sport and leisure and the relationship between community and official attitudes to working-class sport in mid-twentieth century Britain. 

Professor Taylor is editor-in-chief of the journal Sport in History and co-editor of the Peter Lang book series Sport, History and Culture.  He is on the editorial board of the Nordic Sport Science Forum, on the International Board of Scholars of the International Football Institute at the University of Central Lancashire and is a member of the British Society for Sports History executive committee.  He has written for popular publications such as When Saturday Comes, delivered a series of public lectures and contributed to media discussions on the history of sport and sporting culture.

Research group affiliations

International Centre for Sports History and Culture 

Publications and outputs 


Click here for a full listing of Matthew Taylor's publications and outputs|.

Key research outputs

‘The Transatlantic Migration of Sporting Labour, 1920-1939’, Labour History Review, forthcoming 2014.

‘“It’s Nice to Belong”: Boxing, Heritage and Community in London’ (with Neil Skinner) in Jeffrey Hill, Kevin Moore and Jason Wood (eds), Sport, History and Heritage: Studies in Public Representation (Boydell Press, forthcoming 2012).

Football: A Short History (Shire Books, 2011).

Introductory essay and co-editor (with Martin Johnes) of Special Issue of Sport in History on ‘Boxing, History and Culture’, 31:4, December 2011.

Research interests/expertise

History of sport and recreation in Britain and Europe; history of boxing in Britain in the twentieth century; work and labour relations in the entertainment industry; sport, community identities and regulation in mid-twentieth century Britain; the migration of athletes and entertainers; sport and leisure in Second World War Britain; Mass Observation and sport; sport and global history; sport and the British Empire. 

Areas of teaching

British nineteenth and twentieth century social and cultural history; Historical methods and the study of history; Sport and leisure in Britain, Europe and the USA.


BA (Hons) History and Politics (Equal), First Class, University of York, 1993.
PhD in History, De Montfort University, 1997.

Courses taught

HIST 2001: Sport and Leisure in Twentieth Century Britain
HIST 3095: Sport in Britain, Europe and the USA, 1850-1940
HIST 5022: Sport, Politics and Policy, c.1930-2000
HIST 5025: Football – Past and Present
FIFA International Master: Professional Sport in Context
FIFA International Master: Internationalization of Sport

Honours and awards

The Association Game: A History of British Football (Longman, 2008), shortlisted for Aberdare Literary Prize for Sports History, 2009.

Membership of external committees

British Society of Sports History Executive Committee, January 2009-present

International Board of Scholars, International Football Institute, University of Central Lancashire, 2010-present

Membership of professional associations and societies

British Society of Sports History, 1997-present
Society for the Study of Labour History, 2007-present
Social History Society UK, 2006-present

Forthcoming events

Invited paper on ‘Performing Community: Sport, Space and Identities in London, 1930-1950’, Bishopsgate Institute, London, 9 June 2012

Workshop/ Symposium on ‘Sport and Global History’, De Montfort University, 26 July 2012

Conference attendance

‘The Transatlantic Migration of Sporting Labour’, conference paper delivered at ‘A World of Labour: Transnational and Comparative Histories’, An International Conference for the Society for the Study of Labour History, 1-3 September 2008, University of Ulster, Coleraine.

‘Sport and Global History: The Transatlantic Migration of Sporting Labour’, conference paper delivered at the British Society of Sports History Annual Conference, September 2008, Brighton University, Eastbourne.

‘Mass-Observation, Sport and the Second World War’, conference paper delivered at the ‘Recording Leisure Lives’ conference, Leisure Studies Association, 7 April 2009, University of Bolton.

‘Football’s Engineers? The International Migration of British Soccer Coaches’, conference paper delivered at the British Society of Sports History Annual Conference, August 2009, Stirling University.

‘Sport in London’, conference paper delivered at ‘The Legacy of Mega Sporting Events’, 3-4 December 2009, De Montfort University.

‘“The World’s My Football Pitch”: Autobiographical Accounts of Touring and Working Abroad from the 1920s to the 1950s’, conference paper delivered at ‘The British Abroad’ conference, April 2010, University of Newcastle.

‘Boxing, History and Culture: New Themes and Perspectives’, One-Day Symposium, De Montfort University, 30 June 2010, organised the conference, introduced speakers and chaired sessions.

‘Reflections on Sport and the British 21 Years on’, conference paper delivered at the ‘Historians on Sport’ annual conference, De Montfort University, 30 October 2010.

‘Boxing, Class and Community in London Between the Wars’, invited public lecture delivered at the South Wales Centre for Historical and Interdisciplinary Research at the University of Wales, Newport, April 2011.

‘Footballing Lives and the Maximum Wage’, conference paper delivered at the ‘Reflections on the Abolition of the Maximum Wage’ Conference, 9 June 2011.

‘Work, Labour Relations and Trade Unionism in British Sport’, invited conference paper delivered at the ‘Workout – Sports and Labour in History’ conference, hosted by the International Research Centre on Work and Human Lifecycle in Global History at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 25-27 August 2011.

‘Sport and Civilian Morale in the Second World War’, paper delivered at the Institute of Historical Research, Sport and Leisure History research seminar series, 3 October 2011.

‘Observing the British Sports Crowd, 1920-1950: Composition, Behaviour and Regulation’, keynote paper, presented at the ‘Recording Leisure Lives: Sports, Spectacles and Spectators in 20th Century Britain’ conference, Leisure Studies Association, 3 April 2012, University of Bolton/ Bolton Museum.

Consultancy work

BBC Radio Four, ‘Sport and the British’ 30-part series, contributed 3 programme scripts.

I will be available for consultancy on the social and cultural history of sport in Britain and Europe.

Current research students

Conor Curran, PhD, Part-time, 1st supervisor, started 2008
Neil Skinner, PhD, Part-time, 1st supervisor, started 2009
Andy Dawes, PhD, Part-time, 1st supervisor, started 2010
Madeline Armstrong, Part-time, 2nd supervisor
Alison Piatt, Part-time, 2nd supervisor, started 2011
Christoph Wagner, Part-time, 2nd supervisor
Tom Webb, PhD, Part-time (University of Portsmouth), external 2nd supervisor, started 2009

Externally funded research grants information

‘Sport and Civilian Morale in Second World War Britain’, Scouloudi Foundation, Award in aid of research, start date April 2008, end date April 2009, £768.40.

Internally funded research project information

‘Boxers and Boxing between the wars’, Department of Historical and Social Studies Research Committee, to fund research trips for research article, February-June 2008

‘Sports Invaders: The Transatlantic Migration of Sporting Labour’, Department of Historical and Social Studies Research Committee, to fund research trips for research article, July-December 2009

‘Boxing at the Poly: Amateur Boxing in C20th London’, Department of Historical and Social Studies Research Committee, to fund research trips for research article, March-April 2011

‘Sport and Civilian Morale in Second World War Britain’, School of English and History Research Committee, to fund research trip for research article, December 2011

Professional esteem indicators

Nordic Sport Science Forum, member of editorial board, since June 2008
Sport in History, editor, January-September 2009
Sport in History, Editor-in-Chief, September 2009-present
I am also a series editor (with Richard Holt of DMU) of the Peter Lang book series ‘Sport, History and Culture’, 2010-present

Journal Refereeing information:

I have acted as referee for a range of international and national academic journals, including: International Review of the Sociology of Sport, Sport in History, Women’s History Review, Sport in Society, Contemporary British History,  Soccer and Society, and International Journal of the History of Sport.

Other Reviewing Activities:

I have reviewed Book Proposals and Book Manuscripts for a number of publishers, including: Manchester University Press, Berg, Routledge, Rowman & Littlefield, Peter Lang, Pickering & Chatto,

Peer reviews of funding applications:

European Science Foundation, British Academy, Small Research Grant Scheme,  Leverhulme Trust, Emeritus Fellowships, and French National Research Agency.

Case studies

Review of The Association Game in History Today, May 2008, p. 63.

Review of The Association Game on idrottsforum,org, December 2009.

Lecture entitled ‘An Amateur in a Professional Game: Harold Thompson, the Football Association and English Football’ given (with Dr Neil Carter of DMU) at the Royal Society Public Lecture Series on 9 June 2010.

Audience breakdown: 30 in total, of which approx 10 were Royal Society staff, 8 academics and 12 general public.

From feedback forms received, the following comments were made: ‘Well researched presentation’; ‘this was outstanding – more sport-related talks please’; ‘interesting widening of range of issues discussed at Royal Society’; ‘clever idea!’

Rupert Baker of the Royal Society provided the following comment on the significance/ impact of the event: ‘This was the first time the Royal Society Centre for History of Science has included a sport-themed event in its popular series of lunchtime public gatherings.  The talk was a useful opportunity to attract a new audience to the Society, and to bring the football-related side of our Thompson Papers archive to the attention of the public.  All those present agreed that it was a thought-provoking and enjoyable discussion, and senior managers at the Royal Society are now more aware of the breadth of the Society’s archival holdings, and open to the possibility of further, less ‘mainstream’, Library events in future’. 

Interviewed by Louise Duffield for an article ‘This sporting life’ on the impact of sport on people’s lives across the centuries, published in Choice magazine, August 2010.

Feedback from Denise Kennedy, August 2009, a performer who is producing a one-woman show on Bella Burge (Lloyd), a former music hall dresser and later boxing promoter.  Denise had read my article in the London Journal on interwar London boxing.

Feedback from Robert Galvin, April 2010, (non-academic) football historian, who had read my Liverpool University Press book The Leaguers (2005) and required more information about references in the book.

Inquiry from David Gaddis Smith, July 2010, an American journalist who wanted information about newspaper coverage of the 1966 World Cup final.

Matthew Taylor

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Football: A Short History

The Association Game

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