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Football, Ethnicity and Community

The Life of an African-Caribbean Football Club


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 2: Combining history and sociology to write ‘black’ sport


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Combining history and sociology to write ‘black’ sport


As a case study which combines history and sociology, this book is methodologically different to more traditional sociology and history work. This book aims to be what Hadfield and Malcolm might describe as historical sociology because it attempts to widen our sociological understanding of a particular group and their experiences through ‘a commitment to understanding sport and society through an historical approach’.1 By the same token it attempts to present a historical narrative which is informed by social theory.2

At its most rudimentary, this is a history of shifting notions of identity, place and belonging at both the macro and micro level within a particular minority ethnic community which resided within a particular urban space during a particular period of time. To achieve this objective, the study rather unusually draws on data extrapolated through the use of ethnographic techniques in addition to data sources more traditionally employed by historians. ← 23 | 24 →

Using ‘official’ archival sources to write black history – and its limitations

The overriding aim of the study is to provide a historical account which connects the physical and social transformations experienced by the Cavaliers club and the local African-Caribbean community that constituted it, to the wider political and sporting terrain during the period of focus. Henceforth, I will refer to this terrain as the larger picture.3 To accomplish this aim, two objectives...

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