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Sport, History, and Heritage

Sport, History, and Heritage: Studies in Public Representation

Jeffrey Hill
Kevin Moore
Jason Wood
Volume: 10
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Sport, History, and Heritage
    Book Description:

    Sport is an integral part of British culture and an important aspect of modern life. Although its importance has been recognised by academic historians, sport has yet to be fully appreciated in the growing and related fields of heritage and museum studies. Sport and heritage have operated as seemingly separate spheres, yet together they can convey powerful messages; convergence between them is seen in the rise and popularity of sports museums, the collecting of sporting art and memorabilia, and popular concern over the demise of historic sports buildings and sport-related sites. These places, exhibitions and activities help to shape our understanding of sport, history and the past. The essays in this volume explore sports history as manifested in academic enquiry, museum exhibitions and heritage sites. They deal among other things with the public representation of sport and its significance; its impact on public spheres; the direction of sports heritage studies and their aims; the role of museums in public history; and place, memory and meaning in the historic sports landscape. Contributors: Jeffrey Hill, Jed Smith, Anthony Bateman, Ray Physick, Neil Skinner, Matthew Taylor, Tim O'Sullivan, Kevin Moore, Max Dunbar, Santiago De Pablo, John K. Walton, Wray Vamplew, Honor Godfrey, Jason Wood, Andrea Titterington, Stephen Done, Mike McGuinness, David Storey, Daphné Bolz, Jean Williams, Richard Holt. Jeffrey Hill is Emeritus Professor of Historical and Cultural Studies, De Montfort University, Leicester; Kevin Moore is Director, National Football Museum, Manchester; Jason Wood is Director, Heritage Consultancy Services.

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-061-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Sport, History and Heritage: An Investigation into the Public Representation of Sport – Editors’ General Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)
    Jeffrey Hill, Kevin Moore and Jason Wood

    This book has its origins in a series of seminars funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council between 2006 and 2008.¹ The fundamental aim of the project was to bring together groups of academics and practitioners from history, museum and heritage studies, and related fields. Previous contact across these disciplines had been minimal, though there was common ground awaiting exploration and development. Essentially, all participants had an interest in sport and in the public representation of it in particular. In the absence of an existing joint forum for the sharing of experiences, the AHRC project – ‘Sport, History, and...

  6. History, Heritage and Sport

    • 1 Sport, History and Imagined Pasts
      (pp. 9-18)
      Jeffrey Hill

      Commenting on recent political pronouncements about the need to teach British schoolchildren a more factual, narrative and national form of history, the historian Richard J Evans makes a fundamental point: ‘History is a critical academic discipline whose aims include precisely the interrogation of memory and the myths it generates’ (Evans 2011, 12). Contrary to what many people seem to believe, there is no fixed content to ‘the past’. What we remember and study from the past – in other words, what we construe as ‘history’ – is infinitely variable and, what is more, contestable. The very content and interpretation of...

    • 2 Discredited Class-war Fable or Priceless Promotional Asset? The Duality of Rugby Union’s William Webb Ellis Foundation Myth
      (pp. 19-32)
      Jed Smith

      The very first words in Tony Collins’ definitive A Social History of English Rugby Union offer no ambiguity: ‘Of the little that is known about William Webb Ellis, we can be certain of one thing, he did not invent the game of rugby football’ (Collins 2009, vii). Collins’ statement is a direct strike against the traditional story that sits as the foundation stone of rugby football history: that Ellis, in 1823, took the ball in his arms during a game at Rugby School and ran forwards with it, thus creating the defining feature of the sport of rugby football. Collins’...

    • 3 Cricket Writing, Heritage and Ideology
      (pp. 33-44)
      Anthony Bateman

      There is little doubt that of all sports to have originated in the British Isles, cricket is the most literary. In 1991 the updated edition of Padwick’s Bibliography of Cricket listed over 10,000 items, a figure that is now likely to have increased exponentially given the global growth in cricket’s popularity, particularly in South Asia (Eley and Griffiths 1991). As well as the sheer quantity of cricket books, the sport has attracted the attention of a great many literary figures and this has lent the game a distinctly bookish aura, something that has tended to privilege it socially and culturally...

    • 4 Football and the Fine Arts: The Football Association Art Competition and Exhibition, 1953
      (pp. 45-58)
      Ray Physick

      In 1953, as part of its 90th anniversary celebrations, the Football Association (FA), in conjunction with the Arts Council of Great Britain, organised a Football and the Fine Arts competition in London, followed by a national tour. Artists were invited to submit entries ‘dealing with a game of association football in England, or any scene directly connected’ with the sport. According to Sir Stanley Rous, the aim of the exhibition was to break down the ‘barrier between football and art’ (Birkenhead News 1954). J St John, the key organiser of the exhibition and subsequent tour, suggested that: ‘The worlds of...

    • 5 ‘It’s Nice to Belong’: Boxing, Heritage and Community in London
      (pp. 59-76)
      Neil Skinner and Matthew Taylor

      The development of pugilism and modern boxing in Britain has always been closely associated with London and its people. From Jack Broughton, a former waterman from Wapping who formulated the first written rules in 1743, through to Aldgate’s Daniel Mendoza, arguably the first great ‘star’ of the ring in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and post-war champions such as Henry Cooper and Frank Bruno, Londoners have played a central role in the history and culture of the sport. So too have famous London venues such as Broughton’s boxing academy off Tottenham Court Road, the National Sporting Club in...

    • 6 Television and the ‘Austerity Games’: London 1948
      (pp. 77-90)
      Tim O’Sullivan

      In a recent public lecture, Barbara Slater, BBC Director of Sport, presented an insightful account of the sports broadcasting ‘journey’ to London 2012 (Slater 2011). In particular, she noted the ways in which one could ‘track’ the development of many key broadcast innovations through the developing 20th-century coverage of the Olympic Games and that this persists beyond the millennium, into the present, digital, 21st century times. The ‘modern’ in the ‘Modern Olympic Games’ cannot be easily separated from their mass, ultimately global mediation and availability; initially by press coverage, then via film, newsreel and radio, and finally by television and...

  7. Museums and the Representation of Sport

    • 7 Sport in Museums and Museums of Sport: An Overview
      (pp. 93-106)
      Kevin Moore

      Sport is an increasingly important part of global culture. Museums are an increasingly significant way in which culture, through displays of material culture, is reflected and interpreted worldwide. How, then, is sport reflected in museums? This chapter will consider the development of sport in museums, and dedicated sports museums, but with a particular emphasis on these developments in the context of the UK.

      There is growing academic interest in sport in museums and sports museums, but the literature is as yet relatively limited and many questions remain unexplored (see, for example: Adair 2004; Alegi 2006; Brabazon 2006a; Brabazon 2006b; Brabazon...

    • 8 The Everton Collection: Unlocking the Value of a National Football Archive
      (pp. 107-124)
      Max Dunbar

      Britain, as the birthplace of many of the world’s major sports, has a unique sporting heritage. However, the development of dedicated sports museums and archives in the UK has been comparatively late, in contrast with the situation in, for example, North America (Danilov 2005). Why, for example, was it that the National Soccer Hall of Fame and Museum opened in the USA in 1979 but that the National Football Museum for England, the birthplace of Association Football, opened in 2001? Moore has argued that this relates to the perceived lack of value and relevance placed on sport by the wider...

    • 9 Culture, Commerce, Capitalism and Commemoration: Dmitri Piterman and the Alavés Football Museum
      (pp. 125-146)
      Santiago de Pablo and John K Walton

      This chapter is a case study of the tensions between international business, a powerful entrepreneurial drive and a dominating personality, and an Association football club which represents civic pride and provincial and regional identity, together with the aspirations to on-field success and glory of an extensive popular membership. It connects with debates about globalisation and identities, the commercialisation of sport and the exploitation of the club as brand and marketing tool and the multiple roles of sport in the economies and polities of advanced capitalist societies (Guilianotti and Robertson 2009). It has two central themes: the shifting and contested relationships...

    • 10 Replacing the Divots: Guarding Britain’s Golfing Heritage
      (pp. 147-160)
      Wray Vamplew

      An essential aspect of golfing heritage is the legacy of material culture from the three centuries or so that the sport has been played in Britain. This is broad and covers most of the categories outlined in Hardy et al’s (2009) recent typology. To the fore is playing equipment, with golfers changing over time from using fully wooden clubs to those with metal heads and (later) shafts and now the oxymoronic ‘metal wood’. The ball that they strike with these implements has developed from the 18th-century version, stuffed with feathers, through the 19th-century gutta-percha to the rubber core, invented in...

    • 11 Upping Our Game: The New Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum
      (pp. 161-180)
      Honor Godfrey

      The analysis of sports museums by interested academics is on the increase, although the number of academic reviews of new museums or exhibitions remains limited, beyond the ‘Museum Reviews’ section of the Journal of Sport History (see, for example, Adair 2004; Alegi 2006; Brabazon 2006a; Brabazon 2006b; Brabazon and Mallinder 2006; Johnes and Mason 2003; Kohe 2010; Moore 2008; Osmond and Phillips 2011; Phillips 2010; Phillips and Tinning 2011; Ramshaw 2010; Vamplew 1998; Vamplew 2004). The publication in 2012 of a major edited volume by historians on the representations of sporting history in museums (Phillips 2012) is therefore welcome. Lacking,...

  8. Survivals and Legacies:: Sport, Heritage and Identity

    • 12 Survivals and Legacies: Sport, Heritage and Identity
      (pp. 183-194)
      Jason Wood

      In my first year at secondary school I won an essay competition. The title was intriguing and, as it turned out, prophetic. It read: ‘Imagine you are an archaeologist in the year 3000. Describe and interpret your discoveries resulting from the excavation of Anfield Football Ground in Liverpool.’

      It is at times like this when you wish your parents had kept all your school work. I do, however, dimly recall that the Anfield excavation revealed an enclosure of concrete terraces and turnstiles. The conclusion reached was that the building was an open-air prison (the turnstiles only permitting entry one way)...

    • 13 Anfield: Relocating Liverpool’s Spiritual Home
      (pp. 195-210)
      Andrea Titterington and Stephen Done

      Anfield, home to Liverpool Football Club since 1892, is no ordinary sports venue. The stadium is synonymous with Liverpool and a powerful repository of the history and heritage of ‘England’s most successful football club’. This chapter explores that legacy in light of the club’s wish to create a new home, either by rebuilding Anfield or relocating to a completely new stadium. Such are the passion and pride of the fans and the local community, and such are the profundity and resonance of the implications throughout the district, the city and across the football world, that this move is something the...

    • 14 The Canonisation of Common People: Memorialisation and Commemoration in Football
      (pp. 211-222)
      Mike McGuinness

      On 29 May 2008 Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United Football Club, unveiled a statue outside the club’s Old Trafford stadium to who are commonly considered to be three of United’s greatest players: George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton. This continued a process which began with statues of the former manager Sir Matt Busby (standing over the main entrance to the stadium) and Denis Law (on the concourse of the upper tier of the West Stand, formerly the famous Stretford End). Manchester United, of course, also has significant memorials to the dead of the Munich air disaster of...

    • 15 Heritage, Culture and Identity: The Case of Gaelic Games
      (pp. 223-234)
      David Storey

      The growing importance of heritage would seem to be due to a complex array of inter-locking factors: educational, cultural, political and commercial. There seems a desire by many people to know more about the history of a place, person or event, to disseminate this knowledge and often to celebrate it. Heritage is intimately bound up with culture, whether on a local, regional or national scale, and the preservation or remembrance of lifestyles, work practices, musical or folk traditions and so on. Such emphases, in turn, are often linked to political considerations concerned with the promotion (or obscuring) of particular versions...

    • 16 Olympic Heritage – An International Legacy: The Invention of the Modern Olympic Stadium from Coubertin to 1948
      (pp. 235-246)
      Daphné Bolz

      From their revival at the end of the 19th century at the instigation of Pierre de Coubertin, the modern Olympics have progressively developed to meet the needs of various sports and the expectations of spectators. However, what has changed little is the central position of the Olympic stadium. Throughout the 20th century, stadiums have become landmarks in Olympic history and a focus for national pride and representation. Their design and development reflects improvements in sporting achievements and in technical competence. And they set a clear legacy which has a double dimension: on the one hand, stadiums supply a material legacy...

    • 17 The Indianapolis 500: Making the Pilgrimage to the ‘Yard of Bricks’
      (pp. 247-262)
      Jean Williams

      I married an engineer. As someone who read books like Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch (1970) while waiting for the school bus, it is perhaps a miracle that I married at all; but who could resist the charm of a first date to the Sutton Cheney Steam and Country Fair in rural Leicestershire? The honeymoon was four days in York. This included a full day in the National Railway Museum. On the way back we stopped off, mercifully only for the afternoon, at the Crich National Tramway Museum. Calling at a supermarket before getting home, I asked my husband to...

  9. Afterword: History and Heritage in Sport
    (pp. 263-266)
    Richard Holt

    I will begin my short reflection on this timely, varied and innovative collection with a simple generalisation: history is how we explain the past; heritage is how we preserve it. Preserving the past comes in many forms, from acts of personal recollection to collective rites of public commemoration. In terms of sport this can range from memories of great matches or players to putting up statues outside stadia which themselves have become a focus of sporting heritage.

    A simple distinction between history and heritage, however, is complicated by the fact that much popular ‘history’ is probably better characterised as ‘heritage’...

  10. List of Contributors
    (pp. 267-272)
  11. Index
    (pp. 273-284)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 285-287)