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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 4: Finding their feet: Grassroots football, Meadebrook Cavaliers and the second-generation black experience in Leicester

Extract

← 74 | 75 →

CHAPTER 4

Finding their feet: Grassroots football, Meadebrook Cavaliers and the second-generation black experience in Leicester

Introduction

The chapter addresses what the decision to play football and to create Meadebrook Cavaliers tells us about the identity politics of this particular generation of black youth in Leicester, especially during the period 1960–1979. It looks at some of the ways Leicester’s racially hostile sporting terrain impacted on the Cavaliers teams’ performances beyond motivation or resistance.1 It also explores the ways in which the dynamics of the Cavaliers space helped foster a specific type of African-Caribbean identity in Leicester.

To achieve this, the chapter is broken down into four sections: on identity, space and local football; on racial exclusion and the sporting dominance of Cavaliers; on football, style and black identity politics; and on the issue of local football and black identity homogenisation. This thematic approach will undoubtedly obscure somewhat the precise chronology of events. However, this format is necessary to maintain the central thesis. By way of context, it is necessary to begin by sketching out the wider social, political and sporting terrain in which the origins of Meadebrook Cavaliers were couched. ← 75 | 76 →

Context

Black mobilisation in Britain c.1930–1970

Similar to the experience of other migrant groups in Britain, Rex has noted that the black experience in the UK during this period was largely characterised by exclusion, prejudice and racial discrimination.2...

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