Posts Tagged ‘Sports History’

On yer bike!

11 October 2010

By Christina Morin

I was reading the other day on the Guardian about the upcoming Cycle Show in Earl’s Court, London. The article started with a fabulous quote from American suffragette, Susan B. Anthony: ‘The bicycle has done more for the emancipation of women than anything else in the world’. Although I’m not sure I’m qualified to comment on the emancipation of women, I do love the feeling of freedom and, admittedly, shadenfreude-tinged glee that comes from whizzing down the street and inwardly laughing at all the grumpy people stuck in endless queues of traffic. Through my time in Ireland, I’ve lived in several cities, some more cycle-friendly than others, but I’m always thankful for my bike and the ability just to jump on and cycle into the sunset, as it were.

 Anyway, after inspiring me with a renewed love for my bike and its possibilities, the article got me thinking about the history of cycling. It turns out that I’m not the first to become intrigued by the subject. A random internet search reveals some interesting homages to the humble bicycle and its history. There’s a National Bicycle History Archive of America as well as a Bicycle Museum of America, for instance, and in Wales, there’s a National Cycle Collection (located, ironically, in a place called ‘Automobile Palace’!), with a searchable archive of nearly 5000 cycling-related documents. The University of Warwick houses the National Cycle Archive, founded in part by the Cyclists’ Touring Club (itself founded in 1878), in order to preserve ‘archives, books and journals relating to cycles and cycling’. The holdings can be searched via the library’s catalogue, and there is also a list of the archive’s main holdings – fascinating reading in and of itself! Once you’ve delved into a bit of cycle history research, you can attend the annual International Cycling History Conference, which has been held throughout the world for over 20 years. The 2011 conference will take place in Paris, in case you’re interested! Read more

Top five: football histories

26 May 2010

By Kevin O’Sullivan

It’s now only sixteen days until the beginning of the most bloated, over-hyped, quality-diluted, greed-driven (see FIFA’s recent clampdown on South African airline Kulula for advertising themselves as the ‘unofficial national carrier of the “you-know-what”’) sporting show on earth. But do I still love it? Will I still collect and pore over a variety of free newspaper world cup guides in the way I did as an eight-year-old watching Francois Oman-Biyik head that goal against Argentina in 1990? Absolutely, although I think I might give the Star sticker album a miss this time.

Brian Glanville, The Story of the World Cup (newest edition: London, 2010).
First published in 1973, Glanville’s book is now on its eighth edition, and still offers by far the best synthesis of the competition’s history. In his long journalistic career, including columns for World Soccer magazine and frequent match reports for the Sunday Times, Glanville has been an original and refreshingly honest voice. The Story of the World Cup is an extension of that writing, managing to walk the difficult tightrope of match description, background information and pithy asides with confidence and style. I can’t think of any other writer who could quote William Wordsworth to describe Maradona’s ephedrine-fuelled exit from the 1994 World Cup – ‘Men are we, and must grieve when even the shade / Of that which once was great has passed away’ – and get away with it. Read More

Henry’s handball? Plus ça change

23 November 2009

By Kevin O’Sullivan

A trip to Paris marred by a poor refereeing decision, a French manager arriving in Dublin ‘lurching from one crisis to another’, Liam Brady reflecting that ‘the difference between making it and not making it is so slight – but why is it that we never get the breaks that would make the difference?’ and an Irish manager uttering ‘You are a disgrace and a cheat’? Not 2009 but 1981. Plus ça change.

On 27 October 1980, Ireland’s football team arrived in Paris for a World Cup qualifier, top of their group and in a good position to take a significant step toward their first major tournament. They had taken two victories over Cyprus, beaten a fading Dutch side in Dublin, and drawn with Belgium. But from Paris events took a turn that makes Henry’s handball, in the words of Shirley Bassey, look like just a little bit of history repeating. Read More

Review: The GAA, a People’s History

17 November 2009

Contributed by Ida Milne

gaa_peoples_history[1]Some of my strongest childhood memories derive from the GAA.  Playing in family groups on the beach in Courtown,  when a radio was switched on and the Dads were collectively lured away to the hypnotic sound of GAA commentator extraordinaire Micheal O’Hehir,  or watching my father and the neighbours hurl on the pitch on our farm as I struggled with a downsized camán, or going to Ferns to welcome the team home from Croke Park with the traditional mountain of burning tyres, the column of black smoke drawing people from miles around to the reception, as Wexford celebrated yet another All-Ireland hurling championship win.  In the 60s the Rackard brothers were legends; when Nicky came into the yard to dose the cattle we hung around, starstruck.

The GAA was and is part of my cultural background. The fact that we went to a different church on a Sunday in no way impinged on that.  But in recent years, I have noticed that historians writing about the involvement of Protestants in the GAA have tended to focus on their otherness, rather than their sharing in the same culture. For me, the GAA was and is part of the ordinariness of life, not the difference.

When The GAA, A People’s History, was published recently, I eagerly anticipated that at last here was a bottom-up history of the association ideally positioned to chronicle  the everyday involvement of members of the Church of Ireland and other non-Catholic denominations or belief systems.

Here follows the book’s entire discussion of Protestant involvement in the organisation as it appears in the chapter ‘Religion’ Read more