The Ethos of “The Captain”

The Boy’s Own Paper has entered the English language as a name for a kind of sporting cliché which combines the heroic and the far-fetched. “Boy’s Own stuff”, we say (or at least journalists do) when the debutant football arises from a tackle that looks as if it had put him in hospital to score […]

Bob Lord: Butcher and Visionary

The land in which I grew up was mostly famous for its witches, but there was also an ogre. He was fierce and cruel yet he was able to give the people magnificent gifts because he had absolute power over the thing most people cared about. This was Bob Lord, chairman of Burnley Football Club […]

A BBC Sports Channel?

Five old men meet in a park during lockdown. Within a minute and from a stimulus that nobody remembers we are quoting the holy texts: “The bowler’s Holding, the batsman’s Willey.” (Brian Johnston) “And for those of you watching in black and white the pink is next to the green.” (“Whispering” Ted Lowe) “Oh. I […]

Sport and Liberty

This Sporting Life: Sport and Liberty in England 1760-1960 by Robert Colls, Oxford University Press, 2020, pp. 391, £25.00. This Sporting Life begins with Minna Burnaby, an American lady married to a Leicestershire landowner. Her diary tells us that in the 1909-10 season she rode to hounds on 108 occasions, falling ten times. In the […]

Sport in the Middle East

Danyel Reiche and Tamir Sorek (Eds), Sport, Politics and Society in the Middle East, Hurst & Company (London), 2019, pp. 284. There is a certain football manager who, when he fails to sign the range of players he would have liked, growls, “It is what it is” and gets on with managing what he’s got. […]

The Strange Fate of the One Day Game

A Saturday in May and I made my way to Edgbaston to watch Warwickshire play Lancashire in the Royal London One Day Cup as befits a retired cricketer. It was cold and there were short, sharp showers which included some hail. The crowd were a pleasant lot with something of a Commonwealth flavour: I identified […]

Worth a Punt?: An assessment of UK Sports Policy

(An edited version of this article appeared in The Political Quarterly, Vol. 89, Issue 2, 2018) In the course of studying international sports governance Alan Tomlinson and I became convinced that an important variable which must be considered in comparing organisations is the extent to which they are real as opposed to being a form […]

Why I Booed Gaetan Bong

I’m normally rather quiet and subdued at football matches and have rarely booed anyone, but when Brighton came to Turf Moor on the 28th of April I booed one of their fullbacks, Gaetan Bong, because he had reported the Burnley native and former Burnley player Jay Rodriguez for a remark made to him during a […]

You Cannot Be Serious

David Papineau, Knowing the Score, How Sport teaches us about Philosophy (and Philosophy about Sport), Constable, 2017, pp. 328   The sub-title to David Papineau’s book suggests a pair of objectives. They are, of course, open to interpretation. For example, it is eminently clear that the author is not concerning himself with the question of […]

On Sporting Retirement

       My most longstanding friend laughed when I told him I had retired from playing cricket. His socks did not come off, but he spluttered into his beer. I half-expected this reaction as he is seventy one and I am rapidly approaching my seventy first birthday so I half-accepted that the situation was laughable. I […]

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