I was excited in 2017 to see the paperback edition of my new book, A Contemporary History of Women’s Sport published with Routledge. Academic publishers can tend to price hard back copies of books, especially those in prestigious research series, at price points that assume that university libraries are their main targets. Since the Research Excellence Framework (REF), the means by which academic research is judged against similar work in the field, also supports the policy of research books coming out in hardback, before paperback then this is unlikely to change in the short term. So the paperback is a much better value for money option, at around £29.99.
However, one of the few things that people take into consideration when buying such a book is the hours, days and years of research that go into the preparation of the manuscript, along with the painstaking hours of writing. So, for this book I used archival evidence from Switzerland (where many of the world’s sports governing bodies are based, such as FIFA and the IOC); the United States of America (where I was a guest of the National Sporting Library in Middleburg for three weeks and a guest of the Fashion Institute of Technology, in New York for a week); the Adidas archive in Germany and many UK-based collections. Increasingly, outputs that aspire to be ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally-excellent’ as measured by the REF, need to have this originality and to distil large and ambitious sets of source material to impress peer reviewers. Thankfully, reviews of the book in Europe and North America have been very kind and generous.
But the really exciting aspect of research that I wanted to share with jjheritage clients and collaborators was the processes that publishing can begin, rather than end. To date, several family members of Olympians I have written about have contacted me to tell their stories, many of which have lain in scrapbooks in lofts or basements and hardly thought about for several years. Suddenly an online search, or a mention in the media about the family member I have written about gives a focal point to these memories and new information comes to light. This has recently happened in relation to Leicester’s Olympic gold medal winning swimmer in 1912, Jennie Fletcher, and in the case of Margaret Wellington, ‘The Mermaid in the City’ who swam in the 1948 London Olympic Games and then toured New Zealand and the US with her competitive career. Having written about both women before, I now know much more detail about their lives and careers and this family information has been invaluable in revisiting my earlier published articles and books.
I’ve also been in touch with key members of the Manchester Corinthians Women’s Football Team. This is an incredible story that I am currently working up into an article, with a view also to holding a reunion of this very important team in the history of women’s football. Corinthian Ladies formed January 1949 by Percy Ashley, a trained referee whose daughter Doris became captain. The Manchester Corinthians not only played in front of crowds of 80,000 spectators in South America, they aimed to raise funds for worthy causes by staging games and raised £275,000 overall including one tour of Portugal raising £7,000 for the Portugese Red Cross. In 1957 second team Nomads was formed and same year Corinthians invited to tour Germany. At Stuttgart they played before 45,000 people and went on to win an unofficial European Cup in Berlin 4-0. In the following years both teams toured extensively, eventually taking in Ireland, Holland, Portugal, Madiera, Morocco, Venezuela, Colombia, Dutch and British Guiana, Trinidad and Jamaica in their history. Corinthians and Nomads had over 52 trophies and won the Deal Tournment, an important international event, in 1968 and 1969. This is all the more remarkable given that the FA banned women’s football between 1921 and 1969, forming the first England team in 1972. England strikers like Sylvia Gore therefore built up their experience in these unofficial tournaments before the FA selected female players as ‘official’ representatives. Just as intriguing, Handy Angles, from the Midlands, once beat the Corinthians in a game before taking on an all-male TV All Stars eleven led by Bernie Winters, including singer Anthony Newley and with Ronnie Corbett as striker. If you have any further news, or scrapbooks or stories relating to these or other women’s sports history, I’d be very pleased to hear from you using our Contact Us page. With patience, fascinating new stories are coming to light all the time and it makes you think ‘why don’t we know more about this?’…