Essays on Football in the North-East of England 1880-1930
In writing this Foreword I am breaking the self-imposed editorial silence I have maintained over many years. I always thought it best to let authors introduce themselves, setting out their stall in a Preface or in the introductory chapter. Why change the habit of a lifetime? I have two reasons: one personal and intellectual; the other professional and historical.
On the personal level, as Gavin Kitching generously acknowledges, I bear some responsibility for encouraging him to carry out this research. As friends since postgraduate days – almost fifty years ago – we both discovered we grew up with football. As a boy I occasionally went to Newcastle United with my uncle when he went regularly to Sunderland with his father, whose formative and wise influence is tenderly evoked in the opening pages of the book. Unlike the visceral loathing of the ‘Mags’ and ‘Mackems’ of today – I never recall hearing those words then – in our youth the rivalry was fierce but more friendly, fans sometimes attending each other’s games, rooted in a shared industrial heritage and the world of organised Labour. Football and the north-east along with the predictable mix of Sixties radical politics and music were the things we found we had in common when we met in the early 1970s at Oxford. Gavin was finishing a doctorate on Tanzanian agriculture and I was writing a thesis on sport in France.
Gavin moved from a successful academic career in African Studies to a second life...
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