Dr Neil Carter

Job: Senior Lecturer

Faculty: Arts, Design and Humanities

School/department: School of Humanities and Performing Arts

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

E: necarter@dmu.ac.uk

W: https://www.dmu.ac.uk/sportshistory


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 http://www.historyandpolicy.org and the BBC History Magazine https://www.historyextra.com

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

Research group affiliations

Institute of History

Publications and outputs


  • A History of Cycling in Britain: Politics and Pleasure (Bloomsbury Academic, 2021)
  • Medicine, Sport and the Body: A Historical Perspective (Bloomsbury Academic, 2012)
  • The Football Manager: A History (Routledge, 2006) 

Edited Books

  • Coaching Cultures (Routledge, 2011)


  • ‘Marguerite Wilson and other “hard-riding … feminine space eaters”: cycling and modern femininity in interwar Britain’, Sport in History, 40:4 (2020)
  • “‘A Noble Game Became Degraded”: The rise and fall of professional football in Middlesbrough, 1889-1894’, North East History Journal, no. 45 (2014), co-authored with Catherine Budd
  • ‘The origins of British sports medicine, 1850-1914’, Gesnerus 70:1 (2013)
  • “‘Offering something back to society?” Mega-events, learning disability sport and the hosting of Special Olympics GB Games in Leicester, 2009, British Journal of Learning Disabilities (May, 2013), co-authored with John Williams
  • “‘A Genuinely Emotional Week”: Learning disability, sport and television: Notes on the Special Olympics GB National Summer Games 2009’, Media, Culture and Society 34:2 (March 2012), co-authored with John Williams
  • ‘The Olympics, amateurism and Britain’s coaching heritage’, International Journal of Heritage Studies (March 2012), co-authored with Dave Day and Tegan Carpenter
  • ‘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)
  • ‘Mixing Business with Leisure? The Football Club Doctor, Sports Medicine and the Voluntary Tradition’, Sport in History 29:1 (March 2009)
  • “Managing the Media’: The changing relationship between football managers and the media’, Sport in History, 27:2 (June 2007)
  • ‘Metatarsals and Magic Sponges: English Football and the Development of Sports Medicine’, Journal of Sport History, 34:1 (Summer 2007)

Book Chapters

  • ‘Evolution of Soccer Science’ in A. Strudwick (ed.), Soccer Science (Human Kinetics, 2016)
  • “‘This book has needed writing for a long time’: A Critical Reflection on Sports Medicine (1962)’ (translated into French) in G. Quin and A. Bohuon (eds), Les liaisons dangereuses de la médecine et du sport (Paris: Glyphe, 2015)
  • ‘Learning Disability Sport, Volunteers and Legacy: The Case of Special Olympics Great Britain National Games, 2009’ in R. Holt and D. Ruti (eds), Mega-Events and Legacy (Oxford University Press, 2015) co-authored with John Williams
  • ‘From Voluntarism to Specialization: Sports Medicine and the British Association of Sport and Medicine’ in D. Malcolm and P. Safai (eds), The Social Organization of Sports Medicine (Routledge, 2012)
  • ‘Monkey Glands and The Major: Frank Buckley and Modern Football Management’ in D. Day (ed.), Sporting Lives (Manchester Metropolitan University Institute for Performance Research, 2011)
  • ‘Football’s First Northern Hero? The Rise and Fall of William Sudell’ in D. Russell and S. Wagg (eds), Sporting Heroes of the North (Northumbria University Press, 2010)


  • Learning Disability, Sport and Legacy: A Report by the Legacy Research Group on the Special Olympics GB National Summer Games (De Montfort University, 2011). Pp. 277. ISBN: 978-1-85721-411-6. Co-authored with Susan Barton, Richard Holt and John Williams.


  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography – Stan Cullis; Malcolm Allison; Dave Sexton; Sid Watkins; David Coleman; Mickey Duff; Stanley Rous (revision); Peter O’Sullevan; Graham Taylor; Norman Sheil
  • Encyclopedia of British Football (Frank Cass, 2002) – ‘Management’ and ‘Managers’

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
  • History of medicine
  • History of modern Britain

Areas of teaching

  • History of sport; history of modern Britain



University of Warwick, 2002, ‘Meet the new boss, same as the old boss’: A social history of the football manager, c.1880-1966’
Sport, Politics and Society, University of Warwick, 1996, Distinction
BA (Hons)
History, Polytechnic of North London, 1989, 2:1
Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education, De Montfort University, 2008

Courses taught

MA Sport, History and Culture – Programme Leader 2014- Module Leader: HIST5021 Social and Cultural Themes of Sport; HIST5022, Sport, Politics and Policy; HIST5023, Research Methods; HIST5000, Dissertation HIST5025, Football – Past and Present; MA History: HIST5044 Global Leicester; HIST5041 History Project Research Training; Undergraduate - Module Leader: HIST2018 Sport in 20th Century Britain; HIST2001 Sport, Leisure and Culture in 20th Century Britain; HIST3012/3030 The Sporting Body: Sex, Drugs and Disability 

Membership of external committees

  • Special Olympics Leicester 2009 Legacy Group, 2008-10 
  • Athlos – website for athletics literature http://athlos.co.uk – Trustee

Membership of professional associations and societies

  • Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, 2015-
  • Fellow of Higher Education Academy (FHEA) PR059560
  • Member: British Society of Sports History; Social History Society; Society for Social History of Medicine


Special Olympics National Summer Games, Leicester, 2009

Forthcoming events

[Add Projects information here] 

Conference attendance

  • Tourism and sports: Crossed and (trans)national histories of two heterogeneous phenomenon (1850-1950), Lausanne University, 2 September 2021 ‘Anti-sport in the age of tourism: Englishness and the Cyclists’ Touring Club (1878-1930)
  • Sport and Leisure History series, Institute of Historical Research, 26 November 2018 ‘A festival of self-punishment’: Englishness, British cycling and the Tour de France, 1918-39
  • Social History Society Annual Conference, Lancaster University, 21 March 2016 ‘The lure of the road’: cycling, politics and Englishness in inter-war Britain
  • British Society of Sports History Annual conference, Leeds Beckett University, 5 September 2014 Cycling’s Great Split: Class, Politics and the formation of the British League of Racing Cyclists
  • ‘Football 150, 1863-2013’, National Football Museum, Manchester, 15 May 2013 Herbert Chapman and the Rise of the Football Manager
  • Amateurism in British and Irish Sport, Boston College, Dublin, 29 November 2012 Amateurism and the Contradictions of Coaching in British Sport
  • Black History Season, The Hidden History of Black British Sport, DMU, 22 November 2011 British Boxing’s Colour Bar, 1911-48
  • Maximum Wage 50th Anniversary Symposium, DMU, 9 June 2011 The Maximum Wage: The Manager’s Dilemma
  • Medical History Unit Seminar, University of Birmingham, 2 June 2011 The ‘Punch Drunk Boxer’: a socio-cultural and political construction
  • Ideograms Seminar, University of Leicester, 2 March 2011 (co-presented with John Williams) Learning Disability, Sport and the Media: A case study of the Special Olympics National Summer Games 2009
  • Sporting Lives symposium, Institute for Performance Research, MMU, 4 December 2010 Monkey Glands and The Major: Frank Buckley and modern football management
  • Society of Social History of Medicine Conference, University of Durham, 7 July 2010 The Punch Drunk Boxer: Popular Perceptions in Inter-War Britain
  • Boxing, History and Culture: New Themes and Perspectives, DMU, 30 June 2010 The Punch Drunk Boxer: Popular Perceptions in Inter-War Britain
  • The Royal Society, 11 June 2010 (co-presented with Matthew Taylor) An amateur in a professional game: Sir Harold Thompson FRS, the Football Association and English football
  • Pratiques et Reprsentations du Corps II: Crops, Medecine, Mouvement (XVIIIe-XXe Siecles) Universite de Lausanne, 15 April 2010 Sports Medicine as a Profession? The Early Years of the British Association of Sport and Medicine
  • British Society of Sports History Annual conference, University of Stirling, July 2009 “Girl, you have no faith in medicine’: Medical resistance to women’s sport in inter-war Britain’
  • British Society of Sports History Annual conference, University of Brighton, Eastbourne, September 2008 ‘From BASM to BATS: Sports medicine and the voluntary tradition’
  • Wellcome Trust Centre for the Social History of Medicine, University of Warwick, ‘Health Regimens’, December 2007 ‘Football training and health’
  • British Society of Sports History Annual conference, Wellcome Trust funded session on history of sports medicine, August 2007, University of Stirling ‘The rise and fall of the magic sponge: Football trainers and the persistence of popular medicine’
  • DMU-Aarhus University symposium on Sports History and Culture, March 2007 ‘Better and Safer Boxing’
  • Northern Sporting Heroes, Leeds Metropolitan University, February 2007 ‘William Sudell: Football’s First Northern Hero?’
  • FIFA Health Conference, De Montfort University, November 2006 ‘A history of sports medicine in the UK: A case study of football’
  • Centre for Contemporary British History Annual Conference, Institute of Historical Research, June 2006 ‘Voluntary First Aid: The role of St. John Ambulance Brigade’
  • Society for the Social History of Medicine Conference, June 2006 ‘Better and Safer Boxing’
  • North American Society for Sport History, Annual Conference, May 2006
  • ‘Metatarsals and Magic Sponges: British Football and Sports Medicine’
  • De Montfort University, History Department Seminar Series, October 2005 ‘Media, Myth and Managers: The relationship between football managers and the media’
  • British Society for Sports History Annual Conference, May 2000 ‘What difference does the football manager make?

Consultancy work

BBC Radio 4, Sport and the British, 2012

Current research students

1st supervisor

Brigid Power
Gareth Edwards
Keith Myerscough
Melanie Reid
Tom Weir

2nd supervisor

Roy Thomson

Externally funded research grants information

  • Special Olympics National Summer Games, Leicester, 2009, co-director, £90,000
  • AHRC Midlands 3 Cities PhD, Tom Weir, 'A history of sport and learning disability', 1st 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

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.

5. Archives
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
Trustee 2014-

Media Engagement
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

Image of Neil Carter