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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 7: Questions of ‘resistance’ in local football in Leicester


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Questions of ‘resistance’ in local football in Leicester


I sat in my car waiting for Meadebrook Cavaliers’ management committee members to arrive for a club meeting. The majority of the committee consisted of second-generation African-Caribbean sports enthusiasts who have been attached to the club since its inception over four decades ago. As they arrived, it became apparent that for black men of this generation, much of our prior understanding of sport as a form of resistance may be somewhat outdated. Each member parked their expensive cars around mine and took their places at the table in the centre of the clubhouse in their smart suits. They made various excuses for being late (mostly because as people of seniority in their respective careers, they were frequently the last to leave the office). It was soon clear that I was not observing a group of people who were still socially, economically and geographically confined to Leicester’s worst areas and worst jobs. These middle-aged black men were middle class, successful and well-off people. Their social integration into the broader Leicester community was perhaps best typified by both their suburban homes and dual heritage (grand) children (some of whom were present at the meeting). These second-generation African-Caribbeans appeared to be men who no longer needed sport to circumvent a ghettoised social existence or a masculine-less masculinity.1 This raises the question: In the context of social resistance, what, if anything, does this...

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