British Society of Sports History

Promoting the Study of the History of Sport

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Seminar Series

BSSH's Sport and Leisure History Seminar is held at the Institute of Historical Research at Senate House in London.


The seminar takes place on Monday evenings at 5.30pm in the Past and Present Room (N202 - Second Floor of the IHR, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU).


Forthcoming papers:


29 April - Dilwyn Porter (De Montfort University) 

‘More than an inconsequential weekly kick-around’: but what did it mean? Some reflections on recreational football in twentieth century England

Cultural and social historians, if they have reflected on football at all, have tended to focus on the elite game; what happened in and around stadiums, rather than what happened every weekend in the park, on the marshes and in other spaces devoted to public recreation. Yet as Ross McKibbin observed in Classes and Cultures, ‘football was played by more people more enthusiastically than any other game’. The intention is to explore ways in which club archives, local newspapers and other sources, including autobiographies and fiction, can help us connect with and reconfigure our understanding of ‘the people’s game’.


13 May - Lydia Furse

'How could it be that you just want to play a game, and somehow somebody somewhere has to sanction it': The 1994 Women's Rugby World Cup.

In January 1994, the Netherlands withdrew as hosts for the proposed second women’s rugby world cup. Within days of the news breaking, a determined group of Scottish rugby players had begun to arrange an alternative world championship in Edinburgh for April that same year. The 1994 tournament served as a test to the independence of women’s rugby, demonstrated the extremes of relations between male and female rugby administrations, and highlighted the irrepressible enthusiasm of women who just wanted to play their game. Individuals took action in the face of perceived injustice; whether explicitly feminist or not, these actions occurred in a wider political context. This paper explores the events surrounding the 1994 Women's Rugby World Championship to explore how women’s rugby can be more than just a game.

 Here is a link to the BSSH Sport & Leisure History podcast which features Lydia's paper

10 June - Lisa Taylor (Manchester Metropolitan University / River and Rowing Museum, Henley on Thames)

Revival, radicalism, recalibration: reflecting on Women's Amateur Rowing in the long 1960s

Women’s amateur rowing was firmly established in England by the outbreak of the Second World War, although undertaken only by a small number of women. The late 1940s and early 1950s represented a period of revival for the sport, domestically and across Europe. Revival, however, is suggestive of continuity rather than change, and it wasn’t until later – through the long 1960s and beyond – that more radical change would become apparent within the sport. This seminar aims to reflect on the equivocal recalibration of sporting and sexual norms within the women’s rowing community during the long 1960s, using oral history and archival material. It will also consider the interpretive possibilities and limitations of these different methodological approaches.


24 June - Jeremy Lonsdale

'A Game Taken Seriously: Building the Foundations of Yorkshire's cricketing power 1822-1893'

1893 is the great turning point in the history of cricket in Yorkshire, which set off many decades of sporting success through to the late 1960s. This presentation examines the foundations of that success, focusing on the development of the game at all levels from the early 19th century. It considers how the game grew, what it meant to people, and how it was funded, organised and publicised. It argues that it was only when longstanding differences between Sheffield and other parts of the county were resolved in the early 1890s did the full potential of Yorkshire cricket emerge.

Recent articles

  BSSH Sport & Leisure History Podcast #1 - Lydia Furse