My name is Matt McDowell. I am a lecturer in sport policy, management, and international development at the University of Edinburgh, Moray House School of Education, Institute for Sport, Physical Education and Health Sciences.
I am originally from Maywood, New Jersey. I graduated from Hackensack High School in 2000, and obtained my BA in history from The College of New Jersey in 2004. My involvement in the Boy Scouting movement in the US, and my enlistment in an exchange programme, allowed me to work for two summers at the Lochgoilhead Outdoor Education Centre in Argyll. I furthermore participated in an ISEP exchange programme for a semester in 2003 at Strathclyde University. I have been in Scotland permanently ever since I started working on my PhD at the University of Glasgow in 2005: I lived for ten years in Glasgow’s West End, and in 2015 I moved to Falkirk.
My PhD research, which I completed in 2010, examined the culture and patronage of early association football (soccer) in the west of Scotland, up to the Ibrox disaster of 1902. Material from this was released as my first book A Cultural History of Association Football in Scotland, 1865-1902, in 2013.
I have worked at Edinburgh since 2013: first as a tutor, then as a maternity-cover lecturer, and then hired as a permanent lecturer in 2014. Previously, I taught on a variety of Scottish studies and European history modules at Glasgow since 2008, including on several courses aimed at international exchange students. I also taught at the Kingston University Summer School in 2012, introducing American students to aspects of British sports culture.
After I completed my thesis, I started work on a project to examine the culture and politics of sport on the Firth of Clyde during the long nineteenth century, a project I still come back to every now and then. Whilst at Glasgow, I was also internally funded for a research project on Scottish football clubs’ first tours of Denmark.
My more recent research, however, examines the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Together with Fiona Skillen at Glasgow Caledonian University, I have published a variety of articles on the 1970 and 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, examining topics from event management “legacies”, to representations of Scottish national identity, to Scots’ relationships with Africa’s white-supremacist regimes.
Currently, I am working on two projects which I believe will be the subject of my next couple of books. One is a social history of surfing and community in Caithness, particularly in the town of Thurso, near the Dounreay nuclear power facility. The other is a history of the Island Games, a sporting event/competition which offers an alternative reading of (North) Atlantic cooperation. But, as my publication record shows, I also write about/do research on a lot of spaces in between these bullet points. I have additionally written on issues regarding research and teaching within the history/sport studies/sport management interdisciplinary continuum.
I am currently serving as the Chair of the British Society of Sports History: I was formerly its Secretary and Scottish network organiser.
I like gardening. I own a greyhound. I quite enjoy hill-walking. One of these days, I might end up researching the latter. Despite the above research interests, I was never any good at sport, and I don’t jog or work out.
“A spectacular tableau” was what Sir Herbert Brechin, the head of the 1970 British Commonwealth Games organising committee, called for with regard to the Games’ ceremonies, inclusive of massed displays of tartanry and other signifiers of “Scottish-ness”. This certainly pertains to the header of this website as well: an artist’s rendition of the future Meadowbank Stadium (or is it Arthur’s Seat?), included in the ultimately successful bid document for the 1970 Games.