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Dr Neil Carter

Job: Senior Research Fellow

Faculty: Arts, 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, LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 250 6278




Personal profile

Neil Carter is a senior research fellow in the International Centre for Sports History and Culture.

He joined the ICSHC in 2004 as a Wellcome-Trust research fellow. He is a social historian with an expertise in the history of sport and leisure and the history of sport and medicine.

He is currently the programme leader for the MA Sports History and Culture.

His research has focused on a range of issues relating to the development of sport in Britain and also internationally, and he has published widely in these areas.

He is the author of The Football Manager: A History (Routledge, 2006), the first academic study of this subject, and his Medicine, Sport and the Body: A Historical Perspective was published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2012.

Neil is currently writing a history of British cycling, which is due to be published in 2019 by Bloomsbury Academic.

Between 2014 and 2016, he was editor-in-chief of the journal Sport in History and has participated in media debates on the history of sport and sporting culture. He has written for media outlets such as History and Policy and the BBC History Magazine

Dr Carter has supervised a number of doctoral students and welcomes PhD applications in the history of sport and leisure.

Research group affiliations

International Centre for Sports History and Culture

Publications and outputs 

  • Cycling and the British: A modern history
    Cycling and the British: A modern history Carter, Neil Cycling is currently enjoying a boom in popularity. What are the reasons behind this phenomenon? How have perceptions and the popularity of cycling shifted? This book charts the historical development of cycling both as a leisure and sporting activity since the 19th century and explores the wider political and cultural context in which cycling in Britain emerged. In particular, it examines cycling's relationship with environmental politics and its place in popular culture. Neil Carter successfully traverses several historical sub-disciplines, including the history of transport, leisure, sport, medicine and politics, employing the analytical tools of class, gender, political culture, the role of the state and commercialism to demonstrate how British identity has shaped and been shaped by cycling. At a time when it has become part of debates over transport and health, Cycling and the British: A Modern History provides a timely and clear analysis of the changes and continuities in attitudes towards cycling. International Centre for Sports History and Culture
  • Marguerite Wilson and other ‘hard-riding … feminine space eaters’: cycling and modern femininity in interwar Britain
    Marguerite Wilson and other ‘hard-riding … feminine space eaters’: cycling and modern femininity in interwar Britain Carter, Neil This article charts the growth of the sport of women’s cycling in Britain during the inter-war years. It does so with reference to contemporary media sources and specifically the popular periodical Cycling. It examines this development in the context of how emerging ideals about the new modern women jostled with traditional notions of femininity in interwar Britain. Women’s cycling both challenged and complemented ideas of femininity, although how much and how many women engaged in these debates is unclear. While there is a growing historiography on cycling in the Victorian period, the interwar period has been largely under-researched by historians. This article will begin to fill this gap. In addition to the development of sporting bodies and clubs, it highlights the career of Marguerite Wilson. Wilson was the first full-time female professional cyclist who rode for bicycle companies to advertise their products through her pursuit of records such as Land’s End to John O’Groats. Wilson herself embodied the rise of a competitive female body who through her record-breaking exploits contributed towards a narrowing of gender differences. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
  • Evolution of Soccer Science
    Evolution of Soccer Science Carter, Neil
  • 'Ce livre aurait dû être rédigé depuis fort longtemps' Réflexions critiques à propos de Sports Medicine (1962)
    'Ce livre aurait dû être rédigé depuis fort longtemps' Réflexions critiques à propos de Sports Medicine (1962) Carter, Neil This article offers a critical reflection of Sports Medicine. An analysis of this text provides a number of important insights into the state of sports medicine at this moment in time. First as a medical practice; second, the nature of British sport; and third, how sports medicine practitioners reflected prevailing cultural and social values. Both sport and medicine do not operate in a vacuum. Neither are these two particular activities autonomous from wider social and cultural forces. Instead they are subject to a wider historical context, something that his chapter aims to outline.
  • Learning disability sport, volunteers and legacy: the case of Special Olympics Great Britain National Games 2009.
    Learning disability sport, volunteers and legacy: the case of Special Olympics Great Britain National Games 2009. Williams, John; Carter, Neil
  • ‘A Noble Game Became Degraded”: The rise and fall of professional football in Middlesbrough, 1889-1894
    ‘A Noble Game Became Degraded”: The rise and fall of professional football in Middlesbrough, 1889-1894 Budd, Catherine; Carter, Neil This article examines the brief life of Middlesbrough Ironopolis Football Company Limited between its formation in 1889 and its subsequent liquidation in 1894. It was in 1889 that the membership of Middlesbrough Football Club acrimoniously split, leading to a breakaway club, Middlesbrough Ironopolis. As a consequence of Ironopolis turning professional, the ‘mother club’ did likewise. After a disastrous short spell in the Football League, Ironopolis folded. This left Middlesbrough the remaining senior club in the town but rather than replace Ironopolis in the professional ranks, it had already reverted back to amateur status.
  • The origins of British sports medicine, 1850-1914
    The origins of British sports medicine, 1850-1914 Carter, Neil
  • The Olympics, amateurism and Britain’s coaching heritage.
    The Olympics, amateurism and Britain’s coaching heritage. Day, Dave; Carter, Neil; Carpenter, Tegan Although an increase in the quality and availability of sports coaching is one of the ‘soft’ legacy targets for the organisers of London 2012, little is actually known about the ongoing relationships between the Olympic Games and Britain’s coaching traditions, social practices which form an important part of the nation’s intangible cultural heritage. Using newspaper reports and organisational archives, this paper explores how the London Games in 1908 and 1948 impacted on British attitudes to coaching at the level of elite sport and highlights in the process the lasting impact of the cultural heritages of amateurism and voluntarism. The debates and coaching initiatives that followed these Games challenged some of the fundamental tenets of British sporting heritage but amateurism was so ingrained into the sporting culture that changes were always slow and highly contested. As Britain prepares for 2012, coaching is at the forefront of the drive for success but the experiences of previous home Olympics suggest that cultural heritages such as coaching practice can be highly resistant to change and that intangibles such as preferences for voluntarism will continue to impact on attempts to professionalise coaching.
  • 'A genuinely emotional week': learning disability, sport and television – notes on the Special Olympics GB National Summer Games 2009
    'A genuinely emotional week': learning disability, sport and television – notes on the Special Olympics GB National Summer Games 2009 Carter, Neil; Williams, John In July 2009, the Special Olympics Great Britain National Summer Games for athletes with learning disabilities were held in Leicester. Uniquely the Games achieved considerable television news coverage. This article offers a preliminary analysis of television representations of the Games. National TV coverage of the Paralympics is now established, but Special Olympics – and sport for people with learning disabilities in general – receives little media or research attention. This is partly because Special Olympics remains located outside mainstream national sporting networks and its ethos stresses the importance of participation over sporting excellence. The 2009 Games’ television coverage projected complex and ‘mixed’ messages reflected in the language, tone and images typically employed by broadcasters. We identify three key themes: first, the problematically relentless ‘positive’ tone of the coverage, which echoes wider public discourses concerning learning disability; second, the media emphasis on ‘human interest’ narratives and so, via these, the invidualizing of learning disability questions and the general absence of any wider discussion of political or social agendas linking sport and disability; finally, how television in its occasional focus on the families of athletes with learning disabilities articulated values and tensions which characterize the unusually conflicted status of the Games.
  • Sport as Medicine
    Sport as Medicine Carter, Neil What role does sports medicine play in today's society? Is it solely about treating sports injuries? Should it only be concerned with elite sport? This book provides a history of the relationship between sport, medicine and health from the mid-19th century to today. It combines the sub-disciplines of the history of medicine and the history of sport to give a balanced analysis of the role of medicine in sport and how this has evolved over the past two centuries. In an age where sports medicine plays an increasingly prominent role in both elite and recreational sport, this book provides a timely and clear analysis of its rise and purpose.

Click here for a full listing of Neil Carter's publications and outputs.

Key research outputs

Medicine, Sport and the Body: A Historical Perspective (Bloomsbury Academic, 2012)

‘The Rise and Fall of the Magic Sponge: Medicine and the Transformation of the Football Trainer’, Social History of Medicine, 23:2 (August 2010)

‘From Knox to Dyson: Coaching, Amateurism and British Athletics’, Sport in History 30:1 (March 2010)

Research interests/expertise

History of sport and leisure in twentieth century Britain

Global history of sport and medicine in nineteenth and twentieth centuries

Sport and learning disability

Sport and ethnicity in twentieth century Britain

History of coaching

Sport and the state

Sport and the media

Areas of teaching

  • Twentieth century British history 
  • History of sport and leisure
  • Sport and the body


  • BA (Hons.) History, Polytechnic of North London, 1989, 2:1
  • MA Sport, Politics and Society, University of Warwick, 1996, Distinction
  • PhD, ‘A Social History of the Football Manager, c.1880-c.1966’, University of Warwick, 2002
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education, De Montfort University, 2008

Membership of external committees

  • Special Olympics Leicester 2009 Legacy Group, 2008-10 
  • Athlos – website for athletics literature – Trustee

Membership of professional associations and societies

Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, 2015 –

Fellow of Higher Education Academy (FHEA) PRO59560, 2009 -

British Society of Sports History, 1998 -

Social History Society, 2015 –

Society for the Social History of Medicine, 2018 –

Forthcoming events

[Add Projects information here] 

Conference attendance

“‘A festival of self-punishment”: Englishness, British cycling and the Tour de France, 1918-39’, Sport and Leisure History series, Institute of Historical Research, 26 November 2018

‘The lure of the road’: cycling, politics and Englishness in inter-war Britain, Social History Society Annual Conference, Lancaster University, 21 March 2016

‘Cycling’s Great Split: Class, Politics and the formation of the British League of Racing Cyclists’, British Society of Sports History Annual conference, Leeds Beckett University, 5 September 2014

‘Herbert Chapman and the Rise of the Football Manager’, Football 150, 1863-2013, National Football Museum, Manchester, 15 May 2013,

‘Amateurism and the Contradictions of Coaching in British Sport’, Amateurism in British and Irish Sport’, Boston College, Dublin, 29 November 2012

‘British Boxing’s Colour Bar, 1911-48’, Black History Season, The Hidden History of Black British Sport, DMU, 22 November 2011

‘The Maximum Wage: The Manager’s Dilemma’, “50th Anniversary Seminar: Reflections on the abolition of the maximum wage in football (1961 – 2011), De Montfort University, 9 June 2011

‘The Punch Drunk Boxer: a socio-cultural and political construction’, University of Birmingham, History of Medicine Unit, 2 June 2011

‘Learning disability, sport and television: A case study of the Special Olympics GB National Summer Games 2009’, Ideograms Seminar, University of Leicester, 2 March 2011

‘Monkey Glands and The Major: Frank Buckley and modern football management’, Sporting Lives Symposium, Manchester Metropolitan University, 4 December 2010

‘The Punch Drunk Boxer: Popular Perceptions in Inter-War Britain’, Society for Social History of Medicine Conference, University of Durham 8 July 2010

‘An Amateur in a Professional Game: Sir Harold Thompson FRS, the Football Association and English Football’, 11 June 2010, Invited Public Lecture, The Royal Society, jointly presented with Matthew Taylor, Podcast: see

Consultancy work

Sport and the British, 30 part BBC Radio 4 series broadcast January to March 2012; co-consultant and interviewee

Current research students

1st supervisor

  • Mel Reid, ‘A history of caving in inter-war Britain’
  • Craig Thomas, ‘The BBC and Class: 1945-55’
  • Brigid Power, ‘Using Sports Heritage to Promote Diversity, Equality and Social Inclusion: A Case Study of Rugby League’s Heritage Programmes’
  • Gareth Edwards, ‘Commercial television and sport: A history, 1955-1992’
  • Keith Myerscough, ‘Commercially Organised Swimming: A History of Natation in Lancashire, 1846 to 1906’
  • Tom Weir, ‘A history of sport and people with learning disabilities, 1960-2012’

2nd supervisor

  • Derek Schofield – ‘A history of the English folk dance revival’

Externally funded research grants information

The Legacy of the Special Olympics Great Britain, National Summer Games, Leicester 2009; Leicester City Council, SOGB, CIES, NHS-funded, 2008-2010, co-director with Richard Holt (DMU) and John Williams (University of Leicester)

AHRC Midlands 3 Cities, ‘A history of sport and learning disability’, PhD studentship, 2016-19, first supervisor

Internally funded research project information

HEIF 2010, ‘Leicester City FC Museum and Heritage Project, 2011-12, Investigator (PI Professor Tony Collins) 

Professional esteem indicators

Sport in History, reviews editor, 2009 – 2014

Sport in History, editor-in-chief, 2014 – 2016

I have acted as a referee for a range of international and national academic journals, including: Social History of Medicine, International Review of the Sociology of Sport; Sport in History; Journal of Sport History; International Journal of the History of Sport; Media, Society and Culture; London Journal;  Journalism and Social Media.  I have also reviewed book proposals and book manuscripts for Manchester University Press, Routledge

Case studies

‘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

Between 2014 and 2017, I wrote over 90 articles for the Leicester City Football Club matchday programme on the history of football

Member of after-show panel discussion for Tom McNab’s play, 1936, about the Berlin Olympics, Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London, 19 July 2012

Special Olympics Great Britain National Summer Games, Leicester 2009 – Report Launch, House of Commons, 26 October 2011. Liz Kendall, MP for Leicester West MP hosted the event and the report was received by the Minister for Sport and the Olympics, Hugh Robertson MP.

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