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Catching up on the latest SpLeisH news

Published: 9th May 2016

Visit the Storify feed below


Manchester Histories Festival Celebration Day

Published: 9th May 2016

The day will be held on Saturday June 11th

SpLeisH members will be attending the celebration day to present their work and to inform the Manchester public about the important work being done on the sporting archives. Looking forward to meeting all and sundry.

Grant success for Dr Dave Day

Published: 8th April 2016

Collaborative Doctoral Partnership award secured

Dr Dave Day, Reader in Sports History in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science and research lead for Sport and Leisure History (SpLeisH), has secured a Collaborative Doctoral Partnership award from The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). This grant, in conjunction with the River and Rowing Museum, is worth c£68,000.


2016 International Sports and Leisure Colloquium

Published: 7th March 2016

Highly successful event

The 2016 International Sports and Leisure Colloquium proved highly successful and academics from around the world joined their UK colleagues in presenting work on a wide variety of topics over two days. An account of the event can be followed through the Storify below


Highlights from Research Team Seminars Autumn 2015

Published: 8th December 2015

Research Team Seminars Autumn 2015

Here are some of the highlights from the seminars as tweeted.


Highlights from the British Society of Sports History conference

Published: 3rd November 2015

British Society of Sports History conference

In September a number of SpLeisH research team members attended the British Society of Sports History conference in Swansea. Here are some of the highlights as tweeted over the two days.


Highlights from the European Committee for Sports History Congress

Published: 3rd November 2015

European Committee for Sports History Congress

In October Dave Day, Gary James and Sam Oldfield, along with Visiting Research Professor Wray Vamplew attended the European Committee for Sports History Congress in Florence. Here are some of the highlights as tweeted over the three days.


Highlights of SpLeisH Symposium

Published: 1st May 2015

Tweets captured

50 UK and European Academics/Scholars came together for the inaugural International Sport and Leisure History Research Team (SpLeisH) symposium at MMU Cheshire. Here are some of the highlights as tweeted over the 2 days.


Researchers hit the high spots

Published: 27th March 2015

Three members of MMU's International Sport and Leisure History Research Team (SpLeisH) are making a major impact with their research into sports history.

In the latest figures released by publishers Taylor and Francis concerning their journal Sport in History* researchers Dave Day, Gary James and Samantha-Jayne Oldfield all have contributions in the top fourteen most read papers in the journal's history.


In first place in the list is The Emergence of an Association Football Culture in Manchester 1840-1884 by Gary James and Dave Day with 5898 reads (more than double the second paper in the list). In thirteenth (despite only having been accessible for a month) is Delineating Professional and Amateur Athletic Bodies in Victorian England by Dave Day and Samantha-Jayne Oldfield and one place behind that is Samantha's paper Running Pedestrianism in Victorian Manchester. These figures reinforce the widespread interest in the work of SpleisH and the academic credibility afforded to the research of its members as well as emphasising the impact of their work on the public engagement with sports history.


Recording Leisure Lives: Places and Spaces of Leisure in 20th Century Britain

Published: 20th January 2015

A One Day Conference at the Mass Observation Archive, University of Sussex.

The Centre for Worktown Studies invites you to its seventh annual Recording Leisure Lives conference on 31st March 2015 which will be held at the Mass Observation Archive in Sussex. Keynote speakers include Caitriona Beaumont, author of Housewives and Citizens: Domesticity and the Women's Movement in England 1928-64 and Jeremy Burchardt, Head of the Interwar Rural History Research Group at the University of Reading.


The making of a 'Football Capital'

Published: 10th October 2014

MANCHESTER City and Manchester United have together won the English Premier League seven times in the past decade.

Arguably the biggest two clubs in the land, Manchester footballing history is as rich as that of any city in the world. But where did it begin? And who lit the spark that ignited the passion that is part of our everyday city culture?


Discovery features in BBC History Magazine article

Published: 20th February 2014

Forgotten 19th-century football club uncovered in Manchester

Manchester's footballing history may have to be rewritten, after the discovery of a long-forgotten football team established nearly 10 years earlier than the region's oldest known club.


Manchester's Footballing Birth

Published: 20th February 2014

Gary James will be talking about the formation of Hulme Athenaeum and the early years of Manchester football

Held at the National Football Museum on Friday 28th March at 1pm. The talk is free but tickets must be booked in advance.


Further details from Eventbrite


  • A Manchester football club founded in 1863
  • Oldest Lancastrian association football club, replacing Turton as Lancashire's first
  • Hulme Athenaeum was aimed at "working men"
  • Men behind Hulme helped provide Manchester with an association football culture
  • Hulme set the tone and environment for the game in the region
  • Manchester's modern giants owe a great deal to the founders of Hulme and others involved in formative years
  • Groundbreaking research by Gary James, supported by Dave Day, from the Sport & Leisure History Group at Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Article published in Sport in History, Volume 34, Issue 1, 2014 and at


"Association football had become a prominent part of Manchester's sporting landscape by 1884, when the Manchester FA was formed, and this paper considers both how the game became significant in the city and how this development can be used to further the wider debate on the origins of the game. Using a range of archival sources, the paper provides an overview of Manchester's footballing culture, focusing on the period up to the formal adoption of rules and creation of clubs in the 1860s and 1870s, with particular reference to three of the city's earliest organized football clubs. While the influence of each of these clubs was transitory they were linked spatially, chronologically and through key individuals, and their contribution was substantial, even if their existence has largely been ignored by historians. This paper closes by concluding that neither the orthodox nor the revisionist views of the game's origins can fully explain Manchester's experience. In contrast to the idea that certain class groups were more influential than others the authors suggest that football's emergence during the Victorian period depended significantly on key individuals from varying backgrounds who provided the energy and enthusiasm for the game, rather than on specific class interests."

Manchester's football history rewritten

Published: 20th February 2014

Region's oldest team identified by researcher

MANCHESTER'S football history has been rewritten with the discovery of what is believed to be the region's oldest Association Football Club.


PhD takes sporting Sam to Princeton

Published: 10th January 2014

Researcher uncovers previously unused materials

UP-and-coming researcher Samantha-Jayne Oldfield got a priceless opportunity to travel to the world-renowned Princeton University as part of her PhD studies in sport history.


Sam visited one of America's most prestigious universities to study previously unused sources about the life of Manchester-born athletic trainer James Robinson.

The final-year PhD student, who also teaches Exercise and Sport Science classes, is building the life stories of the forgotten individuals who have influenced the world of professional sport.

Her trip was funded by the Department of Exercise and Sport Science, the Institute for Performance Research, and the MMU International Centre, affording her the unique opportunity to access previously unused and important sources at Princeton and elsewhere.

These included Princeton University's Seeley Mudd and Firestone Libraries, New York Public Library, Princeton Historical Society and the New York Athletic Club.

Wonderful experience

Access to collections such as the Ford family papers at New York Library's Rare Books and Manuscripts Department, and Princeton's athletic communications, football programmes, and further historical file and photo collections have proved invaluable with thousands of articles and images collected by Sam during her short expedition.

Speaking of her journey, Sam said, "It has been a wonderful experience, the likes of which I never thought possible.

"The materials I uncovered will add to the quality of my final thesis and subsequent publications, helping to illuminate the pathway for professional trainers and coaches during the late nineteenth century. Thank you to all who have supported this research."

Call for papers: Sport and Leisure on the Eve of the First World War

Published: 19th December 2013

Organised by: MMU Sport and Leisure History Group in conjunction with British Society for Sports History (BSSH) North West Region

June 28 2014, is the centenary of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, the catalyst for the outbreak of the First World War, and this symposium, which forms part of the BSSH North West Regional programme for 2014, explores sports and leisure activities from around Europe as the continent headed towards conflict.


Making a SPLeisH! Sports and Leisure History at MMU

Published: 25th September 2013

The Manchester Centre for Regional History is excited to be collaborating with sports and leisure history colleagues from Department of Exercise and Sport Science on MMU's Cheshire campus in Crewe.


Young researchers impress at Cheshire conference

Published: 13th September 2013

RESEARCH students at MMU were the talk of the town at a national conference this week.

Five young sport historians presented papers at the British Society of Sports History's annual gathering at Wychwood Park Conference Centre in Cheshire.


Although many of them were new to the conference circuit, they made a lasting impression, says Dr Dave Day, Senior Lecturer in Sports History and Coaching and Research Degrees Co-ordinator in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science.

“A large number of delegates made a point of approaching me over the two days to say how envious they were of the quality of our young researchers and how impressed they were by the content of their work and their ability to communicate ideas.”

The young researchers were:

  • Gary James – The Sporting Broads
  • Laura Westgarth – Nineteenth-century National Hunt Training
  • Deborah Pitchford – Reggie Walker: 1908 Olympic Sprint Champion
  • Victoria Snape – Rudolf Oberholzer and British Gymnasts
  • Associate Lecturer Dr Rebecca Andrew – Sports shows and sense of place in Lakeland 1930-1950

Professor Paul Holmes, Head of the Institute for Performance Research and of MMU Graduate School, said: “Well done to all the presenters for being such great ambassadors for MMU and to Dave for leading the team and the conference.”

Staff colleagues who also presented were:

  • Simon Eaves – Victorian and Edwardian Journalists – Pioneers of Sports Notational Analysis?
  • Ian Atkin – Emergent methods of food preparation and Feeding Regimes for Racing Greyhounds (1926-1939)
  • Alison Goodrum – the Style Stakes: Elizabeth Hawes and 1930s fashion at the races
  • Sam Oldfield – The Manchester Milers 1850-1870
  • Dave Day – The ‘mysterious “training tables”’: English antipathy to an American coaching practice

The ESS organised conference was also described as the ‘best ever’. Added Dave: “Long-term members of the BSSH Executive observed that this was the first time in the last thirty years that their conference had gone by without a single hiccup. Not one of the 70 or more delegates had anything negative to say.”