Introduction Mexico 1970
With the conclusion of the Mexico World Cup in 1970, the Jules Rimet Trophy had been won for the third time by Brazil, led by Pelé, who beat Italy 4-1 in the Final, and awarded permanently to the team. The modernist poster design incorporated pictograms, also evident in the poster for the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games, as new visual identities, including those of protest, linked artists with graphic sporting communication. Hosting both an Olympic Games and a World Cup within two years at high altitude heralded a new era of sports science as the heat and thin air made conditions difficult.
As to the poster, the pictogram of a simple football again used football as a metaphor for the world as the tournament grew and the global audiences looking on as television allowed live action, for the first time in colour, into people’s living rooms. African nations had joined the seventy one entries for the preliminary competition and Morocco made the last sixteen, along with Israel, El Salvador, Peru, USSR and South American rivals Uruguay and Brazil: the remaining eight teams were European. Innovations included the first red and yellow cards for sending off and cautioning players, and the authorization of two substitutions per team per match.
The mascot was humanized as a small cartoon boy Juanito (little John) a very common name in Mexico. Juanito wore his country’s football strip, casually controlled a football, wearing a sombrero embellished with the words Mexico 70. The Adidas-endorsed Telstar football and other merchandise was now broadcast worldwide and in colour. Russian Telstar communications satellites, launched in 1962 relayed live transatlantic television broadcasts. Telstar passed into all kinds of popular culture from music to games and comics. The Adidas Telstar football was designed for use in the 1970 and 1974 World Cup tournaments.
West Germany 1974
The 1974 FIFA World Cup, the tenth staging of the World Cup, was held in West Germany, including West Berlin and became Germany’s second World Cup success, beating the Netherlands 2-1 in the final. The tournament marked the first time that the current trophy, the FIFA World Cup Trophy, created by the Italian sculptor Silvio Gazzaniga was awarded. West Germany lost a game to East Germany in what was still a divided nation. New teams to the tournament included Australia, Haiti, Poland, Scotland, and Zaire and returning sides included Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and Uruguay. Johan Crujff was at the pinnacle of his genius for the Netherlands but the honours went to Franz Beckenbauer. The poster, designed by Fritz Genkinger, returned to featuring a football player striking the ball as its main theme with the use of colour and broad brush adding to a sense of dynamism and speed. The names of the host cities featured prominently, and subsequently host city posters would be developed to promote regional identity. The mascots were Tip and Tap, two cartoon boys who were meant to represent a unified Germany.
The 1978 World Cup was held in Argentina, during the winter, causing controversy as a military coup had taken place in the country two years earlier. Argentina became the fifth country to win a World Cup on home soil in 1978. However, overt politicization of the victory perhaps tainted this achievement, since for two years in the build up to the tournament General Jorge Rafael Videla and other junta chiefs used the World Cup as a form of propaganda for their ‘Dirty War’ on political dissidents, many of whom became ‘the Disappeared’. The numbers were shocking, Amnesty International estimated that there had been 10,000 murders; 15,000 disappearances and 8,000 prisoners between 1976 and 1978. Although it was the first time that the number of national associations entering the preliminary World Cup tournament had exceeded 100, the poster, featured two men hugging and presumably celebrating a goal. When seen up close, the heavily pixilated players are rather spooky, as if they too are gradually disappearing from view. Again, the host cities are prominent. Very like Juanito, Gauchito the mascot was again a cartoon boy wearing Argentine colours and a neckerchief.
Ironically under these circumstances, a new figurine was inaugurated that remains part of World Cup ritual today. The FIFA Fair Play award started out as a certificate given to the team considered to have demonstrated the fairest play during the World Cup tournament and soon graduated into
a statue inspired by cartoon character Sport Billy. Tunisia achieved a first win for African football at the tournament, beating Mexico 3-1. Scotland had gone into the tournament with considerable optimism, having beaten Czechoslovakia, the current European champions but a 3-1 defeat to Peru dashed manager Ally MacLeod’s hopes.
Spain hosted an expanded 1982 World Cup Finals tournament which featured twenty-four teams; the first expansion since 1934. Surrealist Joan Miró designed the tournament poster and died in 1983, making this one of his most high profile late works. By then, each host city also commissioned a poster in a signature artistic style of each city’s culture and regional identities became much more important. For instance, the print for Barcelona by Antoni Tàpies is one of many of these regional posters held at the National Football Museum collections. Tàpies combined abstract mural and collage techniques of the Dua al Set movement that arose in Catalonia after World War Two as the region struggled for independence. It has a very contemporary graffiti-style appearance as a result. The mascot was Naranjito, an orange with humanized features and a squat shape in humorous reference to football itself.
The flair teams, France and Brazil, were knocked out by better organised squads from West Germany and Italy respectively. These two teams met in the Final, where the Italians beat West Germany 3-1 to win the trophy for a record-equalling three times. Cameroon, Kuwait and New Zealand were amongst the new nations to the tournament. Although the innovation of the penalty shoot-out had been made in 1974, this was the first time that they had been needed and, when West Germany defeated France through this method, it became something of a specialism, winning further shoot-outs in 1986, 1990 and 2006. This has not been the case for England.
Conclusion Mexico 1986
Mexico became the first country to host a World Cup twice in 1986. A young American popular culture specialist, Annie Leibowitz, designed a series of posters: the first time a photographer was commissioned to create official designs. She also did a series of official photos, having begun her career less than ten years before on Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair. Pictographic influences were also much in evidence. However, the visual language of advertising and promotion increasing influenced poster design. The National Football Museum has a collection of Leibowitz limited edition images that feature a man, with a football in a desert environment. There is no typography or lettering of any kind and the relationship of the photographs to the World Cup is less obvious than in other posters. Gary Lineker was the leading goalscorer of the tournament and the world enjoyed being introduced to the Mexican Wave. Iraq made their debut, and Northern Ireland returned for a second time. Thanks to Diego Maradona’s Hand of God, and a second Goal of the Century, England were eliminated and Argentina went on to lift the trophy after beating West Germany. The mascot was a jalapeño pepper, called Pique, and the action on the pitch was indeed spicy. One of the classic World Cup tournaments. The next blog will look at a new era of selling the World Cup, beginning with Italia ’90.
As hosts of the 1966 World Cup, England, and particularly the Football Association, gave overseas teams a gracious welcome. The tournament gave rise to an unprecedented level of commercial exploitation, exemplified by the first World Cup mascot; a puckish lion called World Cup Willie who wore a union jack waistcoat, and walked with a comical swagger. Popular and academic histories of the World Cup tend to focus almost wholly on the football played, and the outcome in sporting terms. However, the poster and the commercialization of the tournament are as interesting as the Portugese striker Eusebio being the top scorer with nine goals, followed by Haller of West Germany and Bene of Hungary with five and four goals respectively. Awarded the tournament in 1960, the Football Association lost no time in achieving the 1.6 million ticket sales required to make the occasion a financial success. Firstly, no ground with a capacity below 50,000 spectators would be awarded a World Cup game. Due to regulations that all World Cup matches were to be played on pitches at least 115 yards long and 75 yards wide, high profile stadia close to large urban populations, like Arsenal’s Highbury, could not be selected as there wasn't room to expand the playing surface. Everton’s Goodison Park fared better with the adaptations. Similarly, with television broadcast now standard, the Press box had to accommodate over 40 people and technical changes were made: new cabling at Everton alone cost £10,000. The tournament was hosted across seven venues in Birmingham, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesborough, Sheffield and Sunderland.
A staff of thirty five began to promote and sell tickets well beforehand to achieve the sellout figures: Final tickets were only available as part of season tickets to help in selling out other matches. There was the question of balancing sales to overseas and domestic supporters. Since British ticket prices were generally lower than those in other countries, this helped to sell to both domestic and overseas consumers. Those in the luxury seats for ten games, including the Final, could purchase them for £25 15shillings, whereas standing tickest for the same events were as cheap as £3 17 shillings and sixpence. But what role did the posters play in selling the tournament?
The 1966 Poster
Posters played a major role in publicizing the World Cup since its inception and, as interest in the event burgeoned in 1966, so did the professionalization of graphic design. In design terms, England appeared to be personified by the intensely nationalistic mascot, World Cup Willie. The mascot was symbolic of the new era of merchandising and, behind the friendly and furry façade, the little lion had a Beatles haircut, so more than ever, youth was targeted by football as consumers. As David Gill has shown, British military regiments and US sports teams had used live animals as adopted mascots since the nineteenth century, but with the innovation of Walt Disney and Warner Brothers of merchandising their cartoon character mascots, in the 1930s, a new marketing trend translated from the entertainment industries to sport (David Gill ‘Sports Mascots: An Analysis of the Factual and Legal History of Character Mascots’ Trademark World 218 pp. 36-9 www.ipworld.com accessed 25 June 2018).
The 1966 World Cup could not have taken place without government support: this reflected Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s modernisation of the British economy with £500,000 of central government funding to improve the seven host venues. Various state-funded communication and transport providers benefitted also, such as the Post Office and British Transport, and private enterprise from airlines to newspapers who had a range of advertising of their own. A range of non-profit charity providers and voluntary clubs also contributed. Because World Cup Willie was a visual representation, visitors who could not speak English were able to see his likeness on temporary signs used by London Transport to get visitors to Wembley and White City stadiums during the tournament, and provided a simple way of highlighting relevant information.
As the FA said at the time:
It was of paramount importance that as much publicity as possible should be obtained with the minimum outlay. The spending of large sums of money which would have been required for a national, or international advertising campaign could never be countenanced. So every possible avenuewas explored to obtain maximum coverage with minimum expenditure. With no newspaper advertising contemplated, attractive posters were an absolute necessity as a substitute to keep the posters in the public eye.
Over 100,000 posters were displayed across venues. As to the design itself, a golden football in the top right hand corner of the design has been kicked by World Cup Willie, who wears a union flag-embossed football strip, on which the words World Cup are prominent. The union flag features again in the official logo which was placed parallel to World Cup Willie on the bottom right. There are many more beautiful World Cup poster designs but this was playful and humorous which is perhaps all the more remarkable given the huge pressure under which the FA and the England national team hosted the tournament.
The promoter of World Cup Willie was Walter Tuckwell and Associates Limited, was at the forefront of the new character merchandising industry with licensed products including James Bond, Noddy, Dr Who and other BBC series. Tuckwell bought the merchandising agency rights from the FA and complained that the emblem was too dull so the FA commissioned his company to design a mascot. Through through the work of Richard Culley and artist Reginald Hoy, World Cup Willie went through a series of design modifications. The principle of having a cartoon mascot was instantly popular amongst football clubs in the 1960s. This also set a tradition that has spread across major tournaments and in professional clubs, becoming a standard means of merchandising and promoting related memorabilia.
There were also more practical ways of branding the tournament as British, such as the Home Office confirming that the FA permission to use the coat of arms on the official emblem of the tournament. Designed by Arthur Bew, a commercial artist, the insignia was not open to a public competition as had been originally discussed. The model of an official logo, a tournament poster and a mascot would remain the key three ways of promoting World Cups until the innovation of ‘Artmarks’ (a stylized version of the trophy) for the Korea-Japan tournament in 2002. The only person to seem absolutely sure that England would win all along was the manager, Alf Ramsey and he was knighted for his efforts in the New Year’s Honours list: hence ‘Arise Sir Alf.’
World Cup blog 54, 58, 62 posters, images courtesy of the National Football Museum.
The World Cup tournaments in 1954, 1958 and 1962 were also about new forms of confidence and innovative markets. The designs becoming increasingly simple and abstract. The 1954 World Cup in Switzerland was amongst the first to be televised, although relatively few people owned their own set, and would probably have watched at a friend or neighbor, and this marked a new age in visualizing football. The 1954 World Cup was the first to be televised and marked a new way of watching sport, in that people would increasingly follow the tournament on screen than rather than through the press and listening to the radio. The Swiss commercial artist Herbert Leupin, who had produced work for Coca Cola and other multinational companies designed the official emblem, the first trademarked for the World Cup. A graphic designer, Leupin specialized in poster design, and was recognized with many international awards: he also painted and illustrated children’s books.
In this design, the football is the most central design element, and it swells the back of the goal net while an open mouthed and outstretched goalkeeper looks back in surprise. The goalkeeper also looks out at the reader of the poster. Like Laborde’s 1930 design, the figure of the goalkeeper is frozen in a moment of intense drama. It seems as if we see the goal happening in real time. Unlike Laborde’s goalkeeper though, who rises transcendent across the goal, this keeper has been beaten and the human connection is his distress at the moment of defeat.
Increasing technocracy and specialism were also evident in the resulting victory of Germany. The Federal Republic of Germany national team head coach Sepp Herberger had invited German sports shoe manufacturer Adi Dassler, owner of Adidas, to travel with the team in 1954. After reaching the Final against Hungary, the German team countered the rainy conditions in the second half of the match by replacing shorter screw-in studs with longer replacements that gave them more stability. Adidas technology achieved mythical status when the 2-2 first half draw became a German 3-2 victory with six minutes to go. This heralded a significant moment in post-war German national pride, known as ‘The Miracle of Berne’.
Eyzaguirre boots 1962 Image courtesy of the National Football Museum. Luis Armando Eyzaguirre Silva (born in Santiago, Chile on 22 June 1939), played right midfield in the Universidad de Chile football team, known as the Ballet Azul, with which he won four national championships. Eyzaguirre played in the Chilean national team who took third place in the 1962 FIFA World Cup and played one match in the 1966 FIFA World Cup in Sunderland. Eyzaguirre played 39 times for his country between 1959 and 1966.
When a new, proudly mixed-race Brazil team beat hosts Sweden in 1958 to lift the Jules Rimet Trophy for the first time, there was some redemption for their previous defeat as hosts in 1950. The team carried the trophy on the back of a municipal fire engine through the avenues of Rio to the Presidential Palace. The 1958 World Cup poster was typical of the minimalist Swedish graphic design style of the time featuring very uncluttered typography and where the words ‘Football, Futbol, Fussball’ have as much prominence as the football itself. The player who has kicked the ball is in its shadow and, again, it is a transcendent image, as the ball flies off to the top right of the image, trailing a banner of the flags of the competing nations as it soars. Also known as the International Style of graphic design, the poster promoted the Coupe de Jules Rimet and its simplicity, minimalism and functionality reflect a typical Scandinavian design style of the 1950s.
The seventh World Cup competition in Chile 1962 saw Pele and his Brazilian team secure their second successive World Cup crown, beating Czechoslovakia 3-1 in the final. The poster design is much more abstract, and only the ball and the globe feature on the poster, with the lettering to announce the tournament; there was no human element. This was an otherworldly design, set against a green-blue background, by Chilean sculptor and graphic artist, Galvarino Ponce intended to evoke the space-age and the recent Sputnik missions. This was an ostentatiously modern design which figuratively represented ‘world’ and ‘football’. As Brenda Elsey has shown, the Chilean organizing committee presented a small, humble and efficient country with a mainly white, European-influenced culture, embodied by the slogan ‘Because we have nothing, we want to do it all’ (Brenda Elsey Citizens and Sportsmen: Fútbol and Politics in Twentieth Century Chile Austin: University of Texas Press, 2011 p. 196). Compared with the Argentine bid which emphasised the infrastructure of a much larger country and a significant contribution to the world game embodied by their representative ‘We can have the World Cup tomorrow. We have it all’, FIFA chose the plucky underdog. The poster design therefore represents little sense of Chilean culture, but, as a diplomat as well as an artist, Ponce’s design was conscious of drawing the world’s attention to the host nation, via football.
The next blog will discuss the unprecedented commercialism of the 1966 World Cup, and see an important part of the marketing mix for the tournament, the first World Cup mascot World Cup Willie.
Thirty-two nations entered the qualifiers for the 1934 World Cup, hosted by Italy. Twelve of the sixteen teams at the Finals were European and Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, and the United States also sent teams. Uruguay declined to defend their world title. Established Italian artist, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, designed the 1934 poster with a diagonal banner of the flags in the background. At the centre, an angular, almost cubist, player is about to strike the ball. If Guillermo Laborde’s 1930 design embodied defence, Marinetti’s 1934 poster focused on attack. Marinetti had co-founded Futurism, publishing a Futurist Manifesto in Le Figaro, Paris in 1909 and football was one subject amongst many that he painted featuring large passionate crowds, struggle and velocity.
The 1934 poster unsettles the viewer as we see a tipping point; only the lettering observed vertical and horizontal planes. Marinetti frequently used poetry and lettering in his work. Some of the venue posters were more chaotic overlays of images and lettering, as if compiled and pasted together in a rush.
Marinetti was an artist in decline at the time of the 1934 World Cup. He had wanted Futurism to become the official artistic style of Italian fascism, which Mussolini resisted. The 1934 World Cup poster promoted a modern Italy, nationalistic and unafraid of political violence. Against this background Italy’s win was a major propaganda victory for the host country.
Italy not only became the second county to win a World Cup as hosts, but went on to retain the title four years later in France. As John Foot has argued ‘During the Duce’s reign, Italy won two world cups and an Olympic gold medal. Fascism was good for Italian football, and football was good for fascism (John Foot Calcio: A History of Italian Football (London: Harper Perennial, 2006) p. 33).
This was especially the case given that Olympic football lapsed from the programme of the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. Italy’s win in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games and the 1938 World Cup hosted by France were both also ominous victories, as World War Two loomed. The Henri Desmé lithographs for the 1938 World Cup resonate with the political climate in Europe. Heroic realist style linked with commercial advertising, designed to impress. The static player dominates the design and, with his foot on the ball, by extension, the globe. Sculptural power and force would deliver the future, perhaps.
Like many fans of football, Willy Meisl began to look forward to the 1950 World Cup in Brazil at least a year before it happened. Meisl began a debate about what ‘Soccer’s Road to Rio’ meant for global football. This was the first time that England competed. English, Irish, Welsh and Scottish fans could now muse upon what World Cup football meant for their respective national teams, unlike a combined British Olympic team.
The poster for the 1950 World Cup shows us the public image of Brazil, at home and abroad. Contemporary fans would recognise the awestruck Meisl as he tried to convey the size of the logistical challenge of those seeking to travel to Brazil. In June 1950 a fleet of planes will carry a very heavily insured cargo from many corners of the word to Rio De Janeiro. The final itself will be played in Rio’s giant stadium, a masterpiece of modern sports architecture that can hold a 155,000 crowd…Many hundred thousands of pounds are involved: transport and accommodation of the 16 teams alone will swallow £100,000 (Willy Meisl ‘Soccer’s Road to Rio’ World Sports August 1949 (London: Country and Sporting Publications Ltd, 1949) p. 5).
Football-related cultural transfer was evident. Arsenal had toured Brazil to acclaim and intensified discussions of national playing styles. While Italy had retained the third championship, and the last of the pre-war World Cup tournaments in 1938 in an intensely politicized atmosphere, there was widespread sympathy for defending champions as, in May 1949, the Superga air crash, in Turin, killed many stars. Big, modern hoist cities included Sao Paulo, Rio Grande and Bel Horizonte. Rio de Janeiro was at that time Brazil’s capital (Brazilia later became capital in 1960) and the Maracanã stadium was specially constructed. Would Italy be able to win the World Championship for a third time? Or would the host nation claim the title?
The clarity of the single leg and boot design on the poster united the flags of the competing countries on the sock that provided the main diagonal feature. The boot about to move the ball, reflected the host country’s confidence. Elements of football-related cultural transfer were much in evidence, as over 1.3 million spectators took in 22 matches. By this time FIFA had 70 member nations and there were new football countries in evidence at the thirteen team Final tournament, including Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, England, Italy, Mexico, Paraguay, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay, USA and Yugoslavia. Unlike previos World Cups, in 1950 the winner was determined by a Final Round stage. The final four teams (Spain, Sweden, Brazil Uruguay) played games against each other, instead of a knockout format. Brazil were one point ahead of Uruguay going into their match on 16 July, and needed only to avoid defeat to become world champions. English referee George Reader oversaw the Final, but although Brazil scored Friaça, Uruguay took home the World Cup trophy for the second time thanks to goals by Schiaffino and and Ghiggia. A much anticipated celebration in Brazil was not to be, and this led to national shock known as the ‘Maracanã blow’. Brazil changed their shirt design for future tournaments to the colours we now associate with the team, and the “Phantom of ‘50” would resurface many times again in World Cups and internationals.
The designer for the 1950 poster was chosen by a public competition, widely mediated in 1948, a collaboration between the World Cup organizing committee and the commission for the Brazilian society of arts, led by its President Mario Polo and a judging panel of Professors Castro Filho, Henrique Salvio, and Alberto Sims. One hundred and fourteen entries were reduced to a longlist of fourteen, with four finalists and a winner J. Ney Damasceno, from Rio de Janeiro. Damasceno won a prize of thirty seven thousand cruzeiros, although little is then subsequently known of him, and he does not seem to have been an established designer. So these processes of selection are in themselves interesting for how World Cup posters were chosen to represent the nation, not just by the respective football authorities, but also artistic experts.
In the next blog we will look at the World Cups in the 1950s and 1960s, before a special edition on 1966 and how this changed the corporate promotion of World Cup tournaments.
Introduction-The Olympic Games and the World Cup
In the approach to the World Cup hosted for the first time by Russia in 2018, this is the first in a series of blogs about how poster designs, and other commercial marketing techniques, such as mascots and trademarked goods promote the tournament, even to those who are not fans of football.
The historical development of official World Cup posters provide a fascinating insight into the growth of the world’s most popular sport. There were important continuities with the modern Olympic Games, which were inaugurated in 1896 in Athens. From 1908, the Olympic Games staged a small but influential football tournament, out of which the World Cup eventually developed. Formed in 1904, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), football’s world governing body, agreed to recognise the Olympic tournament as a world championship for amateurs following the very well attended matches in Stockholm in 1912. The inter-war period included a particularly well-attended series of matches at the 1920 Antwerp Olympic Games, won by Belgium. Uruguay won the Olympic tournaments in 1924 (Paris) and 1928 (Amsterdam).
The First World Cup and An Invented Tradition of Home Advantage
The first FIFA World Cup was hosted and won by Uruguay in 1930. This invented a tradition whereby home advantage seemed to be conferred upon the hosts but this was by no means a guarantee. Uruguay’s victory coincided with centenary celebrations of the first Uruguayan constitution, and ten matches showcased the Estadio Centenario in Montevideo, built specially for the tournament. There were seven South American and two North American squads, and only four of the thirteen teams were European (Belgium, France, Romania and Yugoslavia).
Local artist Guillermo Laborde designed an oil painting of a goalkeeper rising to tip the ball over the crossbar and, in so doing, set a tradition of winning a public competition to have his design reproduced as a World Cup poster. The original painting became a national treasure and an original in the Uruguay Museo Nacional de Artes Visuales (national art museum) has been restored and conserved recently.
Images courtesy of the National Football Museum
The Loneliness of the Goalkeeper
The Guillermo Laborde curvilinear design for the first World Cup poster in 1930 resonates with contemporary graphic and industrial trends. With a population around 2 million people in 1930, the Uruguayan economy had begun increasingly to industrialise. President José Batlle y Ordóñez had a major influence in the establishment of a circle of fine art, and business interests known as the Circulo de Bellas Artes in Montevideo in 1905. Studios were established for the graphic and decorative arts, architecture and construction and Circulo teachers included Laborde (1886-1940) who had already exhibited his work publicly.
Circulo graduates formed the core of Uruguay’s planismo movement, so-called because it derived from Cézannes techniques of building up an image with levels of opposing planes. However, natural forms including animals and plants were strong influences in Uruguyan art deco, which influenced the buildings of Montevideo in the 1920s and 1930s and design of the World Cup poster. As well as the construction of Estadio Centenario in just nine months, the iconic Palacio Salvo had been finished in 1929, and was, at that time, South America's tallest building.
The 1930 Laborde World Cup poster incorporated planismo elements, with layered contrasts of typography and the crossbar. Meanwhile, the sinuous goalkeeper provides a strong human diagonal element. We see his loneliness and isolation. The design translated to other artifacts like enameled pins and posters were reproduced in both colour and monochrome for matches. All of these items are now highly sought after collectibles. There were many stamps, programmes, ticket stubs, medals, pins, cards and other memorabilia from the first World Cup, many of which can be seen on display at the National Football Museum in Manchester. This remained a trend throughout the following tournaments with some very practical artefacts and others more decoratively embellished.
Why a Poster?
Firstly, the process of hosting a World Cup was partly reflected in the design of the poster, and social, economic and political concerns often influenced both the style and topical motifs used by the artist. Secondly, the idea of a football world championship fed into larger debates about a particular nation’s place in the global economic, political and social order. So, the posters reflected the hosts self-image, to both domestic and international audiences. World Cup posters, like Olympic artworks, and their antecedents (including cheap paper bills circulated by hand), acted as both public service announcements and metaphors for spectacle.
The development of World Cup competition out of the Olympic Games helps to explain the centrality of designing a poster as integral to the cultural identity of sporting spectacle. Posters spoke those who did not necessarily share the language of the host country and the integration of text and image became part of football’s visual lexicon. Easily read at a distance, and graphically simple so that those travelling at speed could absorb information, posters simultaneously announced forthcoming events but also spread ideas. World Cup posters distilled in typography and image complex metaphors for the host nation, the cities in which games were played and football as a world-wide cultural industry. On the one hand the host country defined, projected, and invited an international audience to participate in their celebration of football. On the other hand, regional stakeholders of various kinds had to be involved as paying spectators; local venues for the games and as suppliers of tourism services.
Whereas the Olympic Games are a multi-sport, mixed gender tournament held in a single venue, a World Cup is a quite different marketing spectacle, as a single sport, single-gender event held across cities, and, more recently by more than one nation. The visual lexicon of World Cups therefore diverge from Olympic history, with strong elements of civic self-identification for the host cities, as they simultaneously present themselves to an international audience, and to local or regional consumers. France will host the Women’s World Cup in 2019 and the branding will be quite different. This combines design history and commercial display, blending sport, politics, industrial graphics, cultural geography and national representation. But there are also strong and relatively under explored links with fine art, and high culture.
Posters have played a key role in publicizing the World Cup since its inception and, as interest in the event burgeons to new host countries, so has the sophistication of graphic design. Historians have largely neglected the confluence of these aspects of football’s history, and particularly the visual aesthetic of world sport. This extended to representations of each venue, local transport systems and related ephemera. In today’s diverse and instantaneous social and mainstream media environment, posters play an important part in setting the tone, and brand, of each World Cup. They have also become more of an aesthetic and commercial statement than a functional one, because basic information such as the times and dates of matches can be obtained elsewhere. So following blog posts will ask: what values and structures of power in visual representation have World Cup posters signified historically? How have the design features of graphic representation shaped the identity of the World Cup over time?
Developing Contemporary Collections in Museums and Archives: the unofficial Women’s World Cup Mexico 1971
Leah Caleb’s flight tickets to Mexico ‘71. The first time Leah had flown. She and Chris had travelled to Italy earlier that year to play in a tournament by train.
How can museums use a contemporary collections policy to add to established archival sources? jjheritage was reminded of this recently when English footballers Leah Caleb and Christine Lockwood came to talk to us and the National Football Museum Hidden Histories of Women’s Football project lead Belinda Monkhouse, about playing in the unofficial women’s world cup in Mexico in 1971. Leah was just thireen and a half when she got on the plane to Mexico, via a stopover in New York, and Christine was fifteen years of age. They were allowed to travel because the manager of the Chiltern Ladies Football Club Harry Batt, and his wife June, had visited their respective parents and assured them that the players would be well looked after. Nevertheless, this would be the first time that both girls would fly on a plane, let alone travel to South America.
A month or so before the trip to Mexico, both Leah and Chris had travelled to Sicily to play in an international tournament, the organization of which led by Martini and Rosso executive Mr Paterno. Importantly, although FIFA, the world governing body of football had taken control of women’s football in 1969 as a direct result of businessmen like Paterno promoting women’s access, including in professional leagues in Italy and a planned first unofficial Women’s World Cup in 1970 in the country, FIFA had no aspirations for a women’s world cup.
Harry Batt, Chiltern Ladies FC manager & promoter of women’s football.
This raises a whole agenda around how and why there were connections between Italy and Mexico, while FIFA, the world governing body for football would not organize an official women’s world cup until 1991 in China. Business historians often ask themselves, do entrepreneurial people respond to opportunities or do they make their own opportunities?
Very little has been written about how entrepreneurs have imaged and defined women’s sport as a commercial activity. It perhaps made sense that a company who targeted women with their aperitif should sponsor women’s football, after all, the logo of Martini and Rosso was a ball and bar design. It was also clear that there were connections between the Italian businessmen interested in organising women’s football’s professional leagues and world cup competitions that Martini and Rosso sponsored the Cup in Mexico. This provided an important entrepreneurial backing, evident in the scale of the undertaking in both Italy and South America.
Leah and Chris both have this players medal from Mexico ‘71.
(Unofficial) Women’s World Cup Products, Promotion and Profits
So what did the Mexican organisers learn from Italy, and from hosting the recent men’s FIFA World Cup in 1970? Firstly, they defined the product, with the mascot Xochitl, meaning flower, and stylized female players holding a football, and then diversified the methods of commodification, from attendance in the stadium to collectibles (pins, card figures, programmes and so forth). The opening game in Mexico was played in front of a crowd of 80,000 people. Sports products therefore included the player product, with crowds willing to pay to watch in large numbers. So there were clearly specialist spectator products and associated products for those who could not attend matches in person.
Secondly, sports entrepreneurs proved that women’s football could sustain a large tournament popularity amongst a paying public. Argentina, Denmark, England, France, Italy and Mexico sent representative teams, with England declaring themselves ‘Independents’ because neither the FA, nor the WFA would recognize their efforts. Effectively the England team was Chiltern Valley Ladie’s Football Club and a few additional squad players. The first games were played in front of 80,000 people and the final, in the Azteca stadium, hosted over 100,000 supporters, who saw Denmark win over the home team. Some historians have been restrictively defining entrepreneurs as ‘seeking a profit’ to date. However, entrepreneurship is not all about the profit motive, and women’s football promoters at the time might also be considered to be ‘soclal entrepreneurs’ who act as agents of change in the supply of sports products and who attempt to increase the output of the sports industry, improve the customer experience, or raise interest in sports products by such means as developing new markets or creating new products. Much to research here, then, in terms of refining our understanding.
The six national teams and their interpreters (in pink). Note the varied merchandise that the interpreters are holding.
Conclusion, the legacy of the unofficial ’71 World Cup
Legacy can be difficult to assess. Why? Because the sports product is 1. non-durable and time limited 2. it is often a complementary product bought alongside other experiences (travel, betting, catering, alcohol) and personalized by the consumer 3. merit goods have to be consumed and the outcomes of matches are unpredictable–that is precisely why sport is so exciting. However this can be useful as the greater the uncertainty, sometimes the larger the audience.
Although the business legacy of the unofficial women’s world cup in 1971 has largely been neglected, the psychic benefit and kudos to the players remains very strong, as we saw on 1 May 2018 when we interviewed Leah and Chris, who have remained good friends today. This includes personal kudos, such as publicity, local history and personal fame. Leah was on television five times in 1971 in Mexico and all the English players featured widely in the Mexican press. Two young men walked from the edge of Mexico City to the hotel to bring Leah flowers, as the youngest player in the team. Although the team was entirely amateur and proud to represent their country, the organization of the tournament was very professional, with each team assigned an interpreter and specialist training facilities. The team were in Mexico for a month and this enabled them to take in much more than the football, with tourism encouraged with specialist trips and Chris has a Mariachi record given to her from Nelly, the England team’s interpreter’s brother. Ruben Fuentes is considered a Mariachi maestro and still alive at 92. Chris still treasures the memento today. More cultural exchanges to explore here, as one of the Mexican team came over to Britain and played for Chiltern Valley for a while to improve her English, before returning home.
So contemporary collections can do many things to enhance existing archival holdings, including addressing assumptions about women’s sport making progress today and that entrepreneurs have neglected women’s sport. For museums, contemporary collections also allow recent history to be revisited, and encourages items held in the private domain to move into public exhibitions. Therefore, wider awareness of little known aspects of history can be evidenced in an engaging and entertaining way.
There has been an increase in the number of museums dedicated to sport across the world, developing in a variety of forms, from Halls of Fame, to important archival collections, and more celebratory corporate entities. Football clubs which are also important global marques, such as FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou Experience and Manchester United Museum and Stadium Tour have realized that their history, and heritage are important to the authenticity of their brands. So many clubs have followed suit. However, these loyalties can often be linked to the fan experience, and other major stadia sometimes struggle to develop their own historical offer as a convincing, and, ultimately accurate. Wembley stadium tour for instance, makes little mention of the significance of both greyhound racing and speedway which were so central to Arthur Elvin’s successful business model at the original ‘twin towers’ Wembley stadium, let alone the Rugby League Challenge Cup final, boxing, American football, ski jumping, and the 1948 Olympic Games. Very much reflecting that the stadium is run by the Football Association, football is emphasized at the expense of these other regular users of the ground and Elvin’s use of the wider Wembley complex for the local community, including ice skating, swimming and athletics. Since the stadium was built as the centre piece for the British Empire Exhibition in 1924, this varied use is neglected at the peril of simplifying the story to the FA Cup, England’s victory in 1966 and football more generally. So historians of sport have become engaged in both reviewing exhibitions and the uses of public history as part of a paying visitor attraction experience.
The FIFA World Football Museum, Zurich
The National Football Museum, in Britain, originally opened in Preston in 2001 with the Harry Langton collection of over 140,000 boots, balls, programmes, paintings, postcards and ceramics. Although the rugby items in Langton’s collections were separated and sold off to the World Rugby Museum, the football collection was so extensive that it was sold in 1996 to FIFA as their museum collection and Harry Langton continued after the sale to act as consultant to add to the collection, particularly collecting art and fine art. But there was no permanent museum to house the collection. Forming the core of the National Football Museum, with Heritage Lottery Funding, a permanent display was situated at Preston North End’s Deepdale ground in February 2001. However, financial difficulties meant that the National Football Museum moved to the Urbis building in Manchester in 2016, with support from the European Regional Development Fund. At this time, in recognition of the fact that without Harry Langton’s dedication there would be no National Football Museum, the collection was renamed the FIFA-Langton collection. More than two million visitors have now seen the exhibitions and there is a varied round of temporary displays covering world cups, art and animation, and celebrations of football in World War One, and landmarks like the 125th anniversary of the Football League.
Meanwhile, work on a new FIFA World Football Museum at Tessinerplatz near Zurich-Enge station in Zurich began, and the building contractor officially handed the building over to FIFA Museum AG in December 2015. The museum opened to the public on 28 February 2016. The FIFA World Football Museum is based upon the FIFA archives. While the National Football Museum, Manchester is currently free to enter and encourages donations to support its work, entry to the FIFA World Football Museum costs, on average around CHF 20, with some concessions and group savings. There are a wide range of attractions awaiting visitors: an exhibition area over three levels, measuring more than 3,000 square metres and containing more than 1,000 unique objects, will cover all aspects of the world of football, plus on the top floor a range of active football related games to emphasise health and fitness as part of the visitor offer and covering Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths and Medicine (STEMM) subjects, such as velocity, speed, geometry and so forth. This speaks also to recent concerns about health and wellbeing in museums and where sporting museums may have an advantage in promoting healthy eating, and exercise. There is also an art space encouraging young people to interpret football graphically.
The collections, exhibits and related activities showcase significant artefacts, documents and photographs of global association football and its governing body. The permanent exhibition shows more than 1000 exhibits from an evolving collection including memorabilia, texts, and pictures. Particularly valuable for researchers, the museum manages the FIFA Documentation Centre involving thousands of historic texts, official documents, letters and books related to the game and its development since the early 20th century. FIFA was founded in 1904, but important early documents relate to earlier periods, such as the International Football Association Board (IFAB), formed in 1886 by the four British associations, and expanded to include FIFA in 1913.
By August 2016, visitors from 140 nations had taken in the colourful display of a rainbow of national jerseys that open the visitor experience. Perhaps unsurprisingly given its close proximity to Switzerland, Germany topped the list of international visitors with the UK in second place and the USA third. Many visitors were from further afield, with China, Brazil and India, Middle-Eastern and Arab-speaking countries notable. At the time of my visit in March 2018, school groups and a range of nationalities were visiting in various groups sizes.
As might be expected, there is a dedicated space for every FIFA World Cup since the inaugural tournament was held in Uruguay in 1930. The permanent exhibition has individual showcases filled with items from every edition of both the men’s and the Women’s World Cups, all located next to the World Cup Trophy.
In some senses the work of the National Football Museum and the FIFA World Museum overlap, as, at both, there are also displays to showcase football around the globe. However, there is more emphasis on Football League clubs in the displays in Manchester, whereas, in Zurich, the displays have to be mindful of a global audience. Both really rich sources for the historian of football, both facilities show that the serious study of the world’s favourite game has a rigorous public face as well as a fun way to engage those who may not be traditional audiences for heritage.
At Silverstone on 7 March 2018 we officially started the construction programme for The Silverstone Experience, with a Ground Breaking Ceremony. Our Royal Patron, Prince Harry, was in attendance to see how the project will encourage the engagement of young people, and in particular the next generation of engineers, with Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). The format of the day therefore began at the Silverstone University Technical College (UTC) and presentations were made by Stuart Pringle, Managing Director Silverstone Circuit; Sally Reynolds, CEO The Silverstone Experience, and Ross Brawn Managing Director of Motorsports at Formula 1. Prince Harry then met students and teachers at the UTC.
His Royal Highness then officially started the construction phase with a ceremony in the empty Hangar building which will be converted over the next year to house The Silverstone Experience archive, heritage and museum displays. Lunch was then served in the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) clubhouse.
Silverstone ‘Home of British Motor Sport’
The Silverstone site is vast in scope and has a deep history and heritage. Archaeological research suggests Mesolithic, Neolithic and Early Bronze Age artefacts and cultural geography. Late Iron Age/Early Romano-British pottery has been excavated within the circuit. The site is also in close proximity to the Roman Road between Towcester and Alcester. Luffield Priory, associated medieval remains and other Early Modern links are also suggestive. However, although some of this longer history is evident in the names of key parts of the circuit, The Silverstone Experience (TSE) will ensure that the heritage of Silverstone and British motor racing, particularly after 1945, is interpreted for a wider public, as well as being protected for future generations. Luffield Abbey Farm, attached to Stowe, appears to have been a small farm managed by tenant farmers up until the site was requisitioned by the Air Ministry at the start of the Second World War. The airfield was closed in 1946, and in 1948 was converted into a motor racing circuit, initially utilising the runways and perimeter track. Since 1948 the circuit has been continuously operational. The permanent exhibition will celebrate the history of the circuit and the country’s position at the very heart of the global motor sport industry. The UK has a central role in technological innovation and leadership within global motorsport.
A Historic Race Track
The farm buildings, though altered and extended, form the core of the heritage area of the site and currently house the BRDC archive (known as the BRDC Farmhouse). In 1950 the World Drivers Championship was created and the very first World Championship event was held at Silverstone. Since then, the circuit has played host to the British Grand Prix – the country’s largest single sporting event – a record number of sixty-eight times. Between 1955 and 1962 the British Grand Prix alternated between Silverstone and Aintree. The even-numbered years were at Silverstone and the odd numbered and 1962 were at Aintree. Between 1963 and 1986 the race alternated between Silverstone and Brands Hatch. From 1987, and more radically in 1991, a series of modifications modernised the Silverstone circuit. Throughout its history, Silverstone has been closely linked to British motor racing and the British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC), founded in 1928, oversee the circuit and its history.
Historic personalities have always been evident at the circuit, be they volunteers, behind the scenes enthusiasts or racing motorists. Oral histories are capturing some of these key mmeories. Silverstone has hosted the most important personalities in world motorsport since the Second World War, including iconic Formula One drivers; Juan Manuel Fangio; Jackie Stewart; James Hunt; Alain Prost; Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton. Touring Car legends have included Jack Sears; Gerry Marshall, and John Cleland. Motorbike racing has had a strong history at Silverstone, notably Barry Sheene in the 1970s and more recently Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marques. Can these heroes inspire the next generation? The Silverstone Experience certainly aims to do so, through promoting wider knowledge of heritage and history in diverse and dynamic ways that particularly engage young people in STEM subjects, even if they do not become racing drivers!
Rediscovering the heritage of the world’s oldest football league club: Notts County Football Club and Notts County Football in the Community
jjheritage is pleased to be working with Notts County Football in the Community in rediscovering the heritage of the world’s oldest football league club, formed in 1862. The Heritage Lottery Funded scoping project is due to be completed in April 2018 and will explore options for protecting and promoting the club’s history.
So, how did this history begin?
The club’s website refers to a local newspaper report which is quoted as saying: ‘The opening of the Nottingham Football Club commenced on Tuesday last at Cremorne Gardens. A side was chosen by W. Arkwright and Chas. Deakin. A very spirited game resulted in the latter scoring two goals and two rouges against one.' The Nottingham Guardian 28 November 1862.
This rather unusual report of the outcome of the match, two goals and two rouges, reflected that The Football Association was not formed until 1863, and the rules between football’s handling codes, such as rugby, and kicking codes could often be composite in the same game. Another thing that could change was club colours and shirts. Originally playing in amber and black hooped shirts, then chocolate and blue half patterns, in 1890 these were replaced by the now familiar black and white striped shirts, said to have inspired Juventus to change from their original pink colours.
The club was one of the original founders of The Football League in 1888, after professional football was acknowledged as inevitable by the Football Association in 1885. Notts County Football Club then reached its highest finish in The Football League during the 1890-1 season, and repeated the feat ten years later. Silverware would be more forthcoming from the FA Cup. After finishing runners up in this competition in 1891, Notts then took home the trophy in 1894.
In 1910 the club moved from Trent Bridge (where they had been tenants of Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club) to their present home at Meadow Lane. The ground itself had a varied history, as it was bombed during World War Two, flooded in 1947 and, much later totally rebuilt between 1992 and 1994. More happily, it also hosted a number of festive events including a rock concert featuring Pink Floyd in 1968. Meadow Lane was also used by Nottingham Forest in 1968 after a fire had partially destroyed their main stand.
A landmark decision to sign the great Tommy Lawton from Chelsea for a record-breaking £20,000 saw large crowds and the Third Division (South) title in 1949-50. Since then, County had revived fortunes as a top flight club with manager Jimmy Sirrel in 1981-84 and under Neil Warnock in 1991/2. The club has subsequently survived relegation and promotion with equanimity, and the most recent financial problems were ultimately avoided when the present owner Alan Hardy took over in 2017. His appointment of Kevin Nolan as manager has also led to an upturn in fortunes on the pitch. More on the club history can be found here.
Three Words To Describe Your Club
In July 2017, the BBC reported a study of the three most popular words used to describe Premier League Football Clubs. The results are here with Leicester City FC, for example, described as ‘anomaly’ ‘impossible’ and ‘easiest’, which given their previous season was intriguing.
Building on this, Notts County Football in the Community conducted a ‘three words about Notts’ exercise in the context of examining the heritage, and respondents stressed the importance of ‘History’ and ‘Community’. This provided a basis for working with stakeholders to explore these themes.
As we all know, fans of football are often ardent historians of their club and there is a huge amount of expertise here. The project’s Reference Group, comprised of both local historians with a specialism in the city of Nottingham and Notts County FC, had been asked to think about other sporting and heritage venues that they have visited and liked. This fits with the longer term plans to assess and celebrate the heritage of Notts County. The project has asked: what would a heritage programme look like, and would other resources would be needed? Since the Notts County Supporters Trust was key in saving the club between 2006 and 2009, and the Football in the Community arm is vibrant and expanding, it reflects the club’s history to have diverse and inclusive voices in the formation of recommendations for a potential heritage programme.
With the club’s current focus on re-engaging the local community and a strapline that proclaims ‘An unrivalled history. An incredible future’, now seems a timely and topical opportunity to begin to reflect upon the history and heritage Notts County FC.
Images Courtesy of the Author's Personal Collection.
Maxie Herber and Ernst Baier skating at the 1936 Winter Olympic Games in front of huge crowds and dramatic scenery, typical of Olympic skating.
Madge Syers Olympic and World Champion London 1908
After the main London 1908 Olympic Games in July, the ‘Winter Games’ began in October, including Association Football, Lacrosse, Hockey, Boxing and Figure Skating. At the Prince’s Skating Club Knightsbridge, the women's individual skating gold medal went to Florence Madeline, 'Madge' Syers, who had previously retired from a world-class career due to ill-health but returned specifically to try for an Olympic medal. Else Rendschmidt won the silver medal for Germany. Dorothy Greenhough-Smith, who was the reigning British champion in Madge Syers absence in 1908, took third place for Britain. Gwendolyn Lycett of Britain and Elna Montgomery of Sweden were the remainder of the field.
Madge also won an Olympic bronze in the mixed pairs with her husband, Edgar in 1908. The gold medal went to the German pairing Anna Hübler and Heinrich Burger, ahead of married British couple Phyllis and James Johnson in second place. Phyllis Johnson was also a world champion with James, until his ill health forced her to change partners and she became the first person to win an Olympic medal with different partners, when with Basil Williams, she earned a bronze medal in the mixed pairs. Coming fourth, she narrowly also missed our on an individual medal in the women’s singles in Antwerp.
Madge’s mixed pairs medal was a fitting testament to Edgar’s support, as he had coached her to more advanced levels. Having entered the World Figure Skating Championships in 1902, as there were no rules to prevent women from competing, Madge came second to Ulrich Salchow. She won the ‘men's’ world championships in 1903 and 1904, defeating Edgar. She therefore forced the International Skating Union (ISU) to accept women’s competitions as part of their responsibility and her husband had fully supported this. A heart condition forced Madge Syers to cease competition soon after the 1908 Olympic Games. She died, aged just thirty-five, in 1917.
Ethel Muckelt Britain’s only medalist Chamonix 1924
The inauguration of a separate International Week of Winter Sport in Chamonix in January 1924 (later designated as the Winter Olympics), overseen by the French Olympic Committee, initially added little variety to the events available to female competitors. Overall, six sports and sixteen disciplines were included, with individual and mixed pairs figure skating events providing opportunities for just eleven female athletes in total.
Having previously finished fifth in the skating pairs at the 1920 Summer Antwerp Olympic Games with partner Sydney Wallwork, Britain’s Ethel Muckelt took bronze in the Chamonix 1924 Winter Games in the women’s singles figure skating. She finished behind Herma Planck-Szabi of Hungary and Beatrix Loughran of the United States of America. Muckelt therefore became the first British athlete to win a Winter Games Olympic medal and narrowly missed out on another victory in the mixed pairs with partner Jack Page. Muckelt’s bronze would be Britain’s only medal in Chamonix and result in a tenth place finish overall for the British team.
Born in 1885, Ethel Muckelt’s family made their fortune manufacturing textile dyes. She had learned to skate at the Manchester Ice Rink; the only permanent facility in Britain outside of London at the time. So regional differences could be as important as other factors, like class and gender, in developing Olympic hopefuls. Phyllis Johnson, who had taken part in the 1908 London Olympics and skated again in 1920, could not sustain her place in the squad for Chamonix. Nor could her Antwerp team-mate Madelon St John. Muckelt’s Mancunian colleague, Gertrude Kathleen Shaw, came seventh in the individual competition in 1924, before competing again in St Moritz in 1928. For Mildred Richardson of London, in eighth place, it would be her only Olympic Games.
Although the numbers were relatively slight, figure skating was to have tremendous popular appeal and spectator interest in Olympic competitions was intense. Though she came last in the 1924 women’s figure skating, Norway’s Sonja Henie aged eleven, would redefine the sport. From 1927 to 1937 Henie won ten consecutive world titles and three individual gold medals at the St Moritz Olympic Games in 1928, in Lake Placid, 1932 and at Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany 1936. Turning professional in 1937, Henie became one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood with the release of motion pictures Thin Ice (1937) One in A Million (1939) and Sun Valley Road (1941).
The All-Female British Winter Olympic Team in 1932
The Lake Placid Winter Olympic Games in 1932 saw the first all female British Olympic team of just four figure skaters, who could therefore only participate in the individual competitions (and not the mixed pairs). The figure skating as a whole was contested by 13 nations; more than any other sport. However, the women singles was restricted to 7 national representatives (including Austria, Belgium, Canada, Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, and the United States) with the mixed pairs contested by just four teams (Canada, France, Hungary and the United States). However, social class was an important part of the story of how and why the four British women came to be on the team at Lake Placid.
The reasons for a small team were mainly financial, so far as the British Olympic Association (BOA) said it was concerned, but also because the Winter Olympics had much less national prestige than the Summer Games. A letter from the Skating Association was considered in November 1931, that forecast no British representative would be in the medals and, in view of cost, one man and one woman should be sent as a token gesture with the hope of a top six placing. Similarly the British Ice Hockey Association sought to identify male British-born players in Canada and the United States both to enlargen the search for talent and to save on travel costs. Bobsleigh was not considered a national sport, so any male competitors had to fund their own way. As late as December 1931, the BOA decided that only one skating competitor was proficient enough to fund at Lake Placid, presumably Mollie Phillips although she was not named, and allocated £75 14 shillings and 3 pence for the purpose.
For the first time in Olympic history, Great Britain’s flag bearer at Lake Placid was a woman. Mollie Phillips was by far the senior member of the team at the age of 24 compared to Joan Dix at 13 years of age; whereas Cecilia Colledge and Megan Taylor were both just 11 years old. Colledge was 11 years and 83 days, making her slightly younger than Taylor, at 11 years and 102 days, and she remains the youngest ever Olympian. Dix’s father Fred was originally from Norfolk and he had been a speed skater, competing at the 1924 and 1928 Olympic Games.
Megan Taylor was the highest-placed British athlete in seventh place, just ahead of Cecilia Coledge, Mollie Philips and Joan Dix. Born in Wimbledon, Megan Taylor was coached from infancy by her father, Philip, who had been a speed skater. She would be a longtime rival to Cecilia Colledge, and, by extension, Sonia Henie. Colledge, was the daughter of a surgeon and was coached by Jacques Gerschwiler, and had trained at the exclusive Ice Club, Westminster from 1928. In each case therefore the young women of the team (Colledge, Dix and Taylor) had a considerable amount of financial support and family interest in their chosen sport, to the extent of training as full time as education would allow. It was this familial support, and some private appeals by the Skating Association, that got one woman and three girls to Lake Placid.
Given the social background of these young women, the staging of the Lake Placid Winter Olympic Games and Los Angeles Summer Olympics of 1932 caused the British Olympic Association once again to debate the relationship between amateur values and specialist preparation. Even the timings, using a chronometer rather than a stop-watch, evidenced this increased technocracy. This was primarily described as an American ‘problem’ in correspondance between the BOA with the IOC over ‘broken time’ payments and implied professionalism. But skating also provided a public platform for young women to become sporting, and Olympic heroes.
Posts written by Jean or Joanna.