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Sports and Leisure History Research Team (SpLeisH)

MMU Sports and Leisure History researchers are based within the Department of Exercise and Sport Science on the Cheshire campus in Crewe, although they also have significant links with the Department of History, Politics and Philosophy, and the Manchester Centre for Regional History, as well as the Institute of Humanities and Social Science Research. The researchers consist of full-time staff members with a specific remit for sports history, Professor Dave Day, Dr Samantha-Jayne Oldfield, Dr Nick Piercey and Martyn Cooke, together with MMU colleagues engaging with aspects of sports and leisure history as part of their personal research agenda, such as tennis historian Dr Simon Eaves and motoring historian Dr Craig Horner. Renowned sports historian Professor Wray Vamplew is a Visiting Research Professor and Dr Julia Walsh of Deakin University, Australia, Dr Rob Lake, Douglas College, Canada, Dr Daphné Bolz, University of Rouen, and Professor Jean-Francois Loudcher, University of Bordeaux, are designated Visiting Research Fellows. Other international academics who work closely with MMU researchers include Professor Christian Vevier, University of Franche-Comte, Besancon, Dr Hans Henrik Appel, Greve Museum, Mosede Fort, Denmark, Dr Stijn Knuts, independent researcher from Belgium, Dr Paul Newsham, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland, and Dr Dejan Zec, University of Grenoble. Research associates include Professor Alison Goodrum, Dr Carrie Dunn, Dr Claire Robinson, Keith Myerscough, Sylvia Kolling, Gary Shaw and Margaret Roberts, editor of the Exercise and Sport Science Department’s Playing Pasts online magazine. Additional members include PhD research students Geoff Swallow, Derek Martin, Liam Dyer and Lisa Taylor, plus Rachel Johnson (Royal Northern College of Music). Some profiles can be accessed in our members' section.

The group provides a focus for research into nineteenth and twentieth century sport and leisure, and is actively engaged in employing all historical approaches, including oral history, biography, and prosopography, to uncover the individual and collective lives of the men and women involved in sporting and leisure activities. Researchers have an interest in the sport and leisure history of the North West of England and are currently exploring the history of pedestrianism (the predecessor of modern athletics), football, motoring, music, netball, and swimming, in the region during the Victorian and Edwardian period. Current major projects include an inter-disciplinary project with sports science colleagues in which nineteenth century training practices will be subjected to contemporary scientific analysis. There is a strong international flavour to other research projects with an expanding European network collaborating on developing training for post-graduate students in sports history, exploring the transcultural transmission of sporting and coaching traditions, and researching the different perceptions of the sporting body across Europe over two centuries. Some proposed future projects can be seen by going to the PhD position proposals, all of which are self-funded.

The researchers organise several symposia and conferences annually and the faculty hosted the British Society of Sports Historians annual conference in September 2013. Events in 2014 included a two-day symposium on Sport and Leisure on the Eve of the First World War and the team's first International Sport and Leisure History colloquium in 2015. This has now become a very popular annual event, involving contributors from around the world, and the next event in the series is scheduled for March 2018. In June 2015, a symposium on The Future for Sports and Leisure History produced several outcomes, which can be seen as blogs on the futures blog page. and researchers co-hosted an international seminar on Sports Coaching: Historical and Cultural Perspectives in Besançon, France, in 2016. The group regularly arranges public lectures from esteemed sports and leisure historians and disseminates their research in different public forums, both academic and non-academic. Researchers are always happy to present their work to the public and to any organisation that might be interested.

All enquiries about that aspect of our work should be directed to Professor Dave Day at