1. Special Olympics National Summer Games, Leicester, 2009
Between 2008 and 2010, I was a co-director of the Special Olympics Legacy Group for the national summer games that were held in Leicester in 2009. My fellow directors were Professor Richard Holt (DMU) and John Williams (University of Leicester). Special Olympics cater for people with learning disabilities, and we were commissioned to examine the holding of the games from the perspectives of the organisers, athletes, their families and carers and the volunteers. We raised £90,000 of funding from four external bodies – Leicester City Council; Special Olympics Great Britain; NHS Leicester; and CIES (International Centre for Sports Studies) – to employ a research assistant for 24 months. I conducted research for the project that included a mixture of participant observation and interviews of key people and also co-authored the 80,00-word report, ‘Learning Disability, Sport and Legacy’, which was launched at the Houses of Parliament in November 2011 by the then minister for sport, Hugh Robertson, and hosted by Liz Kendall MP (https://www.dmu.ac.uk/research/research-faculties-and-institutes/art-design-humanities/icshc/learning-disability-sport-and-legacy-report-launch.aspx). In addition, I co-authored 2 articles and a book chapter on the Games, which were outside my specialist area of expertise, with my fellow co-director, John Williams, on its media coverage, the Games’ volunteers and the idea of mega events.
2. BBC Radio 4, ‘Sport and the British’ series, 2012 https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01bf42n
Between 2010 and 2012, I was one of the consultants employed to work on this series, along with other colleagues in the ICSHC, which was broadcast in the year of the London Olympics. I undertook research and wrote the script for three of the 30 programmes – 3. The Bare Fists of Boxing; 4. The Unsporting Side of Sport; 13. Fighting Back – as well as being interviewed for those I was responsible for. The series was part of History’s REF contribution for impact.
3. Leicester City Football Club Programme
During my time at DMU, the ICSHC has established strong links with Leicester City FC, or more precisely the club historian, John Hutchinson. I also played a small role in the establishment of the university’s partnership with the football club, due to this involvement. Initially, in 2012-13, I was awarded £7,000 of internal HEIF funding for a secondment to work on writing a history of Leicester City directors for the club website. This was never published (although the research will be used for a future academic article). Nevertheless, John Hutchinson and I then agreed that I should write a regular ‘History Makers’ column (c.500 words) for the club programme for every home game, beginning in 2013-14 and finishing in 2016-17, which covered the club’s Premier League victory. For the first three seasons I wrote on the history of British football, which included famous events, players, managers and administrators, based on mine and colleagues’ research. In my final season, the theme was the history of European football to coincide with the club’s participation in that season’s Champions’ League. In total, I wrote 93 columns. My colleague, Matt Taylor has since taken over responsibility for the column, but I have contributed a couple of columns per season, which have focussed on pioneering players including women and those from ethnic backgrounds. During the pandemic the club hosted some of my earlier articles on its website, including Stanley Matthews (https://www.lcfc.com/news/2240795), thus giving my work further exposure.
4. Mass Open On-line Course (MOOC), ‘A Social History of English Football’
In January 2018, in combination with John Williams (University of Leicester) and John Hutchison (Leicester City FC), I was a co-convenor of a Future Learn MOOC, ‘A social history of English football’. The course ran over three weeks and aimed at widening public access to, and understanding of, the social history of football. The first two weeks covered the history of the game with the final week devoted to the impact of Leicester City’s Premier League triumph in 2016. There were two further iterations of the course, the first to coincide with the 2018 World Cup for which another week of ‘steps’ was added. I wrote 21 of the course’s original 67 ‘step’s, drawing on mine and colleagues’ research, which included ‘The Making of Modern Football’ and ‘The Rise of the Manager’. The MOOC had a broad, global reach with 2,211 people joining from 117 countries; over half of the learners were outside of the UK. Feedback demonstrated how the course had fostered an interest in sports history as well as reflecting the reach, impact and public engagement with football history.
Both the MOOC and the football column were included in an Impact Case Study, ‘Transforming Popular Understandings of Sports History’ for which I was the author and formed part of the University’s REF 2021 submission. Based on evidence, this case study’s impact changed popular understanding of sports (which also included rugby league), both nationally and internationally, and shaped the heritage policies of sporting bodies. ICSHC research – which I played a significant role – underpinned these changes through its partnerships on heritage projects, with educational providers and through sports organisations.
During my career, I have been committed to the preservation and promotion of archives related to the history of sport. From my initial experiences at football clubs, sport has not been a conventional subject to research. It has necessitated ‘getting your hands dirty’, literally at times, as there were few archives deposited in record offices. In researching the history of sports medicine, I located the archives of the British Association of Sport and Medicine in 2006, which were held by a former secretary who kept them in his garage. I took responsibility for the archive, and it was later donated to the Wellcome Trust Collection, which acknowledged my role (https://wellcomecollection.org/works/nfuzmm6d). In addition, I have been instrumental in the buttressing DMU Special Collections through the acquisition of various archives – via personal contacts – in particular, the Amateur Boxing Association (now England Boxing), which not only included this body’s minutes of meetings but also trophies, literature and ephemera. Other archives include the football-related papers of Sir Norman Chester, which were originally held at the University of Leicester, plus the papers from the 2009 Special Olympics National Summer Games. I have also been contacted by certain parties regarding the depositing of runs of cycling and athletics journals. Partly as a result of the deposition of these records, DMU Special Collections has become an archive hub for sports history collections. Finally, my interest in archives has not been limited to physical collections. Since 2014 I have acted as trustee of a registered charity, Athlos (https://hes32-ctp.trendmicro.com:443/wis/clicktime/v1/query?url=http%3a%2f%2fathlos.co.uk%2f&umid=a243ea05-d8f0-43fe-aacf-51df454e22ca&auth=abf3dc013bb623204479f0e1f803993cdb4617ca-657985dcfcd1666f88c057a644b9d6815d3e5c5a) which is a website for athletics literature. I have worked in conjunction with three significant people from the world of athletics – Tom McNab, Peter Radford and John Lister – to preserve and make available in digital form, important books on the history of the sport, dating from the early nineteenth century, many of which are unavailable from libraries. A launch event for the website was held at the British Library in 2015.
‘Aston Villa, the Offside Trap and the Nazi Salute’, History Workshop Journal Blog, https://www.historyworkshop.org.uk/aston-villa-the-offside-trap-and-the-nazi-salute/
29 June 2018
‘English Football: A Social History’, Future Learn, 3-week MOOC, Joint course creator with University of Leicester and Leicester City Football Club 29 January – 16 February 2018
‘A Brief History of Marathons’, BBC History Magazine http://www.historyextra.com/article/culture/brief-history-marathons-London
22 April 2016
‘First Person: Football’s hot seat is getting even hotter’, Leicester Mercury, http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/Person-Football-8217-s-hot-seat-getting-hotter/story-25422230-detail/story.html
8 December 2014
‘Football Injuries’, Four Four Two November 2014
‘From magic sponge to magic spray’: football and sports medicine, historyandpolicy.org
14 July 2014
BBC Radio 4 – Sport and the British, consultant and contributor, 30 part series January – March 2012
Leicester City Football Club – Programme Column on History of Football – 98 x 500-word articles 2013-14 -
Athlos – website for athletics literature https://hes32-ctp.trendmicro.com:443/wis/clicktime/v1/query?url=http%3a%2f%2fathlos.co.uk&umid=a243ea05-d8f0-43fe-aacf-51df454e22ca&auth=abf3dc013bb623204479f0e1f803993cdb4617ca-e34ca05dc5168561292b2b972b5a6789fafc711b
ABC Radio, Sydney, Australia 10 July 2018
SFR Sport (Paris, France), 2018 World Cup 30 April 2018
Yesterday TV, ‘Trading History’, episode 6, ‘Tom Simpson’ 27 January 2017
Le Monde 4 May 2016
Guardian 30 April 2016
Newstalk Radio (Dublin, Ireland) 29 May 2015
Leicester Mercury 17 June 2014
BBC Radio Five Live, Drive 17 February 2014
BBC Radio Five Live August 2013
Media Urbanik May 2013
Sky Sports News May 2013
Radio Leicester, Drive May 2013
BBC World Service, Sports World April 2013
ITV Central News June 2012
Radio Leicester, Sporting Life Exhibition February 2011
Radio Five Live, Simon Mayo Show May 2007
Radio Five Live, Stephan Nolan Show August 2006
Radio Leicester, John Florence Show March 2006
Radio London, Danny Kelly Show February 2006