Thursday, 12 November 2015

Come and see the Soccer Mad Boffins in Middlesbrough

We are pleased to announce that we will be presenting our research on Middlesbrough Football Club at the Urban Leisure Conference organized by the British Society of Sports History's North East and Yorkshire Network on Saturday November 14th, at Teesside University.  Our paper reports on the relationship between Middlesbrough FC and its local authorities in the 1980s and draws on previously unpublished archival sources as well as our forthcoming book chapter and world cup book. Registration will be at 10am and at 10.30am there will be a keynote by the esteemed football writer Harry Pearson.  Our presentation will be at 11.45am. The event is free to attend and you can book here - - We look forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Soccer Mad Boffins in successful Swiss research visit!

Soccer Mad Boffins (Alex and Kevin) recently visited the International Olympic Committee, FIFA and the International Centre for Sports Studies (at the University of Neuchâtel) in Switzerland.  This was a very successful visit and findings will be used to inform our forthcoming book on the 1966 FIFA World Cup, to be published by Routledge in 2016.  It will be released 29th July, on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the famous final in which England lifted the Jules Rimet Trophy. Kevin noted that 'we were able to access an unparalleled selection of resources' on this trip while Alex commented that 'our book promises to be the most deeply researched business/management history of the 1966 FIFA World Cup published to date. We hope that it will be received enthusiastically by historians, business management, and sports academics aliike. Back of the net!.'

Monday, 19 October 2015

Contribution to the website of Montrose FC

Soccer Mad Boffin Dr Alex Gillett has contributed an article about his Grandfather, footballer Giles 'Gil' Gillett, to the website of Scottish club Montrose FC.

After national service with the BAOR (British Army of the Rhine) Giles played professionally in the late 1940s/early 1950s, initially with English team Middlesbrough before transferring back to his native Scotland where he spent two seasons with Leith Athletic before signing for Montrose.

Included on the website are digitized archival documents including a copy of Giles' Montrose contract and player registration, as well as a match programme (Montrose vs Heart of Midlothian FC) and photographs, all of which may be of interest to people researching Scottish or post- WW2 football

The article can be found by clicking here.

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Introducing The New Signings: Soccer Mad Boffins

Alex (left) and Kevin (right) signing their publishing contracts.  Photo taken by: Chris Purdham 

We are very pleased to announce that we have now signed publishing contracts to have our paper 'Beer and the Boro - a Perfect Match!' included in the forthcoming book 'Brewing, Beer and Pubs: A Global Perspective'.

Our chapter is co-authored with Fred Hutchinson (Teesside University) and the book will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in March 2016. It will include contributions from many great writers and it will be edited by a great team - Ignazio Cabras (Northumbria University, UK), Prof David Higgins (Newcastle University, UK) and Prof David Preece (Prof Emeritus, Teesside University). 

Our paper, as you might gather from the rather punning title, is about Middlesbrough Football Club and its relationship with breweries as sponsors and suppliers to its stadium.  In the paper, we place particular focus on the 1980s - and what happened before and since that time.

You can read all about the book here.

Stay tuned for more exciting news regarding publication plans for even more of our research - in particular the work we have been doing on the 1966 FIFA World Cup.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015


SOCCERMADBOFFINS are proud to announce that we will be presenting a public lecture at this year's YORNIGHT event on Friday 25th September.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the event which makes it that extra bit special.

Yornight is part of European Researchers' Night -  a mega event which takes place every year simultaneously in more than 300 cities all over Europe and beyond. It aims to show that research is fun and influences daily life for all of us.  YorNight is York’s contribution to this event, hosted by the University of York in partnership with the York Museums Trust.

European Researcher's Night is a European Commission initiative funded by the European Commission's Research and Innovation Framework Programme H2020 (2014-2020) by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions. Directorate-General for Education and Culture. European Commission under Grant Agreement No. 633344.

We will be found in:

  • The Researchers' Cafe

And we shall be doing a public lecture:

  •  'FIFA World Cup 1966: Planning for Success' 
  • King's Manor Room K/159 
  • 7.40pm - 8.00pm

See you there!

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Soccer Mad Boffins Summer World Tour

Following our success at the University of York CEGBI/CSWL summer conference (see previous post) - we have in recent weeks also had our research on referees discussed in the 'Uses of the Past: History and Memory of Organizations' Professional Development Workshop at the Academy of Management (AoM) in Vancouver, Canada.  Here we discussed the ethnographic character of the archives generated by referees as they travelled around the world, and how we can use them to document the development of refereeing as a profession.  Vancouver is of course fresh from hosting the final of the FIFA Women's World Cup and FIFA signs were still on display!  Kevin also visited the Olympic Village from the 2010 Winter Olympics, perhaps one of the better legacy sites from an Olympics. This is the second Olympic venue visited by a Soccer Mad Boffin this year.  Alex visited the Barcelona Olympic Venue and village in January.

Next month we will be attending the Management and Business History Track at the British Academy of Management (BAM) in Portsmouth, where we will discuss the findings from our 1966 FIFA World Cup Project. We are working on bigger plans for outputs from this, so watch this space!

Monday, 22 June 2015

Soccer Mad Boffins Present Paper

On Friday 19th June we had the honour of presenting a paper at the CEGBI/CSWL summer conference at University of York.  Our paper was entitled  ‘A life between the lines: the mysterious world of football referees’ and explored the role and contribution of referees to football's governing bodies, as well as the rules of the game. The abstract can be found here

Friday, 19 June 2015

Grimethorpe Black Diamonds Ladies

Following our previous post commenting on the FIFA Womens' World Cup, our colleague Professor Stephen Linstead (University of York) has brought to our attention this clip from 1968 about the Grimethorpe Black Diamonds Ladies Team:

As well as providing rare archive footage of womens' football in the 1960s, the Grimethorpe Black Diamonds clip also offers insight into the relationship between industry/industrial communities and sport.   

Perhaps the most famous 'industrial' women's team were the Dick, Kerr Ladies Team which comprised munitions factory workers during WW1:

All of this is of course a long way from Canada 2015, temporally, spatially, and financially, but serves as an interesting reminder of the roots of women's football and also how far the sport has come in recent times in terms of recognition and professionalisation.  According to, the 2015 World Cup has seen women's football attracting a great deal of new interest from sponsors (although in 2015 this is from global sportswear brands, rather than local munitions factories and collieries!) and is considered to be an important opportunity by FIFA as a means by which to achieve their sponsorship targets.  

Given the reported funding problems and financial inequalities in the women's game, particularly in and between the teams from the CONCACAF region (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) and CAF region (which encompasses African Football Associations), new money in womens' football will be well received - although the challenge will be to avoid the pitfalls associated with commercialisation of soccer and alleged financial irregularities and mis-management that have beset the men's sport in recent years.  Watch this space.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

FIFA Women's World Cup 2015 - A Feast of Football

Whilst the world of football was rocked by events in Switzerland around the FIFA presidency elections, the FIFA Women's World Cup Finals kicked-off in style with a 1-0 victory by this year's hosts Canada over China (who were the inaugural hosts way back in 1991).

There have been some tremendous score lines including Germany's 10-0 win over Cote D'Ivoire, Cameroon's 6-0 victory over Ecuador, Switzerland's 10-1 win , also against Ecuador.  There have also been a couple of 4-0's, a 3-2, and a 3-3, and we are not yet past the group stages. Of course, there have also been many matches with substantially lower score lines, but there is no denying that it has been entertaining: 88 goals in 28 matches, at the time of writing, an average of 3.143 goals per game, but only two goalless draws so far (Canada v New Zealand in Group A, and USA v Sweden in Group D).

England's 2-1 win over Mexico was a great advertisement for the tournament, a close scoreline with goals at either end and a high standard of technical ability throughout.  FIFATV have made highlights available on youtube:

The remainder of the group fixtures take place today (16th June) and tomorrow (17th June), with the Second Stage of 'knockout' fixtures beginning on 20th June and culminating in the Final on July 5th.
More information can be found at and also via the BBC at:

Friday, 27 February 2015

Globalization, Glocalization, & Winter World Cup?

Sport and sporting events are a popular topic for the media.  Decisions and actions around the hosting of global ‘mega events’ such as the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup in particular have provided many headline stories for broadsheets and tabloids alike.

In 2014 the British Press had much to write about the the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, as its host nation Russia simultaneously became embroiled in tensions with its neighbours Ukraine.

In 2018 Russia will host the FIFA World Cup ( and for the previous few months many column inches have been written about that and also about the decision to host the next one in Qatar.  The FIFA World Cup is of course Association Football’s flagship global event and Qatar 2022 ( presents an opportunity to spread soccer’s reach into a brave new world.

Despite still being seven years away, and despite the political controversy around Russia and its relations with the rest of the world at present, it is Qatar 2022, which seems to be courting the most controversy and catching the imaginations of the world’s hacks, or at least those in England.

To understand the fixation with the Qatar event we must consider some of the commonly reported issues.   Firstly, it must be said that the choice taken to host the tournament there was a strange one.  The FIFA World Cup is an event traditionally held in June and July with matches taking place in large stadiums, but Qatar is a location where summer temperatures are exceedingly high and where there is no tradition or infrastructure for football. 

Secondly, one must acknowledge the way that FIFA has handled or mis-handled (depending on whose side you take) the allegations of corruption in the bidding process, the perceived secrecy and lack of probity around the corruption report which was completed towards the end of 2014.

It is also important though to remember that England had itself bid to host the event and brought out the big-guns to publicise its determination.  With high expectations since successfully landing the 2012 Summer Olympiad, a galaxy of stars including Prince William and David Beckham were paraded in front of the paparazzi to add weight and halo-effect to the English effort.

There was great disappointment then when the tournament was awarded not to England but to Qatar, a country portrayed in news reports at the time to be little more than a desert with an oil reserve.  After all, the modern rules of ‘soccer’ were invented on the playing fields of Cambridge, right? And England won the World Cup once in 1966.  Prince William and David Beckham even had their photos taken at an official event and as we’re fond of telling ourselves every couple of years ‘football’s coming home’. How could we lose?

But lose we did, and perhaps that should not have been quite as surprising as it was. Football has of course been globalising since the turn of the twentieth century.  Us Brits were initially reluctant to be involved with FIFA, the football associations of the ‘home’ nations were suspicious of this new-fangled self-elected international football authority.  Then we got involved, then we backed out, then we got involved again.  At the time of England’s memorable victory in 1966 the president of FIFA was Stanley Rous, a former Amateur footballer and referee who had overseen the 1934 FA Cup Final and risen through the ranks of the English FA as an accomplished administrator.  Perhaps this was the pinnacle of British influence on the global game.

In attendance with the Brazillian team in 1966 was João de Havelange, who had competed as a swimmer at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin and water polo in the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki.  By 1958 Havelange had joined the Brazilian Sports Confederation where he served as Vice-President and then President, before being elected as President of FIFA in 1974 having defeated Stanley Rous and becoming the first non-European to head FIFA.

Havelange’s approach was to extend soccer’s reach, opening up new markets in more coujntries and generating new income streams through sponsorship and television.  In the late 1990s Havelange was replaced by his ‘understudy’ Sepp Blatter who has pursued a similar direction.  The introduction of football associations from Asian, African, and Island nations to the FIFA family has arguably diluted the influence of the traditional (i.e. Western European) football associations, and demonstrates the direction in which the sport has been heading.

 In this context the success of Qatar’s bid looks less surprising, as does England’s diminishing influence and success both on the pitch as well as off it.  Whilst perhaps bad news for English football in one sense, it must also be realized that English clubs have also been happy to accept and spend the vast amounts of wealth which have flowed to it as a result of the growth television broadcasts, sponsorship, and consumption of football around the world – and which have arguably been driven by the fact that the Brits became less involved in FIFA.

The latest controversy is that a suggested solution to Qatar’s hot summer months is to move the tournament to the winter. This is controversial because a) it is different to how the world cup is usually organized, b) it would disrupt the domestic leagues of European countries such as England which take place over the winter, and c) Qatar’s winning bid was for a summer tournament. 

Personally, I can’t very well imagine a winter tournament but then again I’ve never experienced one.  On the plus side, such a change would help to ensure a more suitable climate and avoid clashing with the Olympic Games.  Perhaps or football’s World Cup to truly be a world cup, some flexibility is required in order to accommodate ‘new’ territories. Whilst football has globalized, being consumed in most regions around the world, we are also seeing evidence of ‘glocalization’ as the football ‘product’ is adapted to suit production and/or consumption based upon local culture and behaviour (e.g. Hollenssen, 2011:21). 

We should not be surprised by all of this – this think global, act local approach is not uncommon amongst other industries and many other global brands have also learned the hard way that the pursuit of global dominance requires sensitivity to local conditions (see for example the classic case of Euro Disney/Disneyland Paris which is a staple of many services marketing textbooks  Furthermore, neither is it the first time that the format of the FIFA World Cup has been discussed – who could forget the rumours and jokes about the possibility of wider goals and additional advertising breaks in the lead-up to the 1994 competition hosted by the USA?  

It should also acknowledge that it has been widely reported that England's own attempts to host the competition were criticized by FIFAs inquiry for “currying favour” with important FIFA members in the hope of their support when the time came to vote.  It should also be acknowledged that the loudest and angriest voices amongst all of this mess appear to come from the English media.

These are interesting times and one thing is for sure: The latest twists in the tale will not be the end of the story.  Despite the facts outline above, I’m still not sure though about this idea of a winter World Cup!

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Research Update - the Ken Dagnall Archive

One of the biggest challenges for management history researchers in general can be the location of archives, both in terms of archives generated by individuals and organizations. Football researchers are blessed with some excellent resources held by bodies such as the FA and FIFA, but collections pertaining to individuals, which can often give access to another view of an organization or event are more unusual.

One such holding we have encountered during our research on the 1966 World Cup has been the Ken Dagnall collection, held by the Bolton Library and Museum Services. Dagnall, who died in 1995, was an official in the Football League between 1954 and 1968, with the highlights of his career being referee in two world cup matches in 1966 as well as the 1967 FA Cup Final.

Dagnall collected a wide variety of documentation and memorabilia during his career, building up an amazing insight into his life as a referee.  There is an interesting collection of match reports, featuring sending offs of characters such as Billy Bremner, as well as more unusual issues such as delayed kick-offs and linesmen turning up at the wrong matches. There is a considerable collection of materials built up from the 1966 World Cup, including telegrams of support, copies of theRadio Times and relevant newspaper supplements, and even copies of brochures such as multilingual information documents prepared by the General Post Office on telephone and post services in Britain.

Many of these ephemeral documents have not survived in other ways, and Dagnall's collection of these documents as mementoes of his own involvement in the tournament has helped us as researchers understand better how the media and government agencies in the UK both supported and reacted to the tournament.  In trying to preserve his own memory of his career, Dagnall has helped to preserve the memory of the biggest soccer tournament ever held in the UK, and this serves as a reminder that management history is not just something which emerges from organizational memory, but individual memory as well.