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Football, Ethnicity and Community

The Life of an African-Caribbean Football Club

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Paul Ian Campbell

Winner of the British Sociological Association Philip Abrams Memorial Prize 2017

This book is a case study of an African-Caribbean-founded football club, Meadebrook Cavaliers, from the English East Midlands. Covering the years 1970 to 2010, it seeks to address the paucity of research on the British African-Caribbean male experience in leisure and sport as well as on the relationship between «race» and local-level football. The development of the club was intimately connected to wider changes in the social and sporting terrain. Based on a mix of archival and ethnographic research, the book examines the club’s growth over four decades, exploring the attitudes, social realities and identity politics of its African-Caribbean membership and the varying demands and expectations of the wider black community. In doing so, it shows how studies of minority ethnic and local football clubs can shed light on the changing social identities and cultural dynamics of the communities that constitute them.

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Chapter 1: Introduction

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CHAPTER 1

Introduction

The social history of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities in Britain is an area of study which has largely been neglected.1 This situation is especially noticeable within the body of work concerned with the social history of Britain’s East Midlands region.2 This is despite the fact that many of the conurbations within this region have been home to ‘international’ communities since the 1700s.3 It is also despite the fact that since the end of the Second World War, the East Midlands has been home to a number of small but visible immigrant communities from the old British Empire.

A similar absence is present within the history of sport. In Holt and Mason’s otherwise seminal Sport in Britain: 1945–2000, for example, little attention is given to the influence which ‘black’ British sportsmen and women have had on many of Britain’s most popular sports, such as boxing, cricket, athletics, rugby and football or vice versa.4 Likewise, Hill’s Sport, Leisure and Culture in Twentieth-Century Britain makes only a fleeting reference to race. This is in the context of cricket as a sport which was on the one hand saturated with colonial discourses; and on the other, a source of ‘national pride’ for many first- and second-generation immigrants from ← 1 | 2 → the Commonwealth, especially during the 1970s and 1980s.5 There are, however, some noteworthy exceptions. Collins provides a welcome exploration of the presence of BAME communities and sportsmen...

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