The 1970 British Commonwealth Games: Scottish reactions to apartheid and sporting boycotts

FIONA SKILLEN, Glasgow Caledonian University

MATTHEW L. McDOWELL, University of Edinburgh

ABSTRACT

The 1970 British Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh is widely thought to have been a barnstorming success, and an excellent advertisement for Scotland. Recent research by the authors, however, shows that the event was nevertheless a deeply politicized one: reflective of Scotland’s status as a “stateless nation”, of Westminster politics during the era more generally, and of the politics surrounding apartheid South Africa’s sporting contacts with the outside world. The Games managed to avert a mass boycott organized by the South African Non-Racial Olympic Committee (SANROC), in retaliation for the Marylebone Cricket Club’s recent invitation of the South African national cricket team. This article will explore Scotland’s place as a non-state actor within the 1970 crisis. Attention will be given to the domestic political response, both from Scottish MPs, members of local Scottish councils (particularly within Edinburgh itself), and from Scottish National Party (SNP) activists, angered that Scotland should pay for the crimes perceived to be made by an English sporting body. However, our piece goes beyond these discourses, to examine the broader sporting relationship that Scots had with South Africa and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), governed by white supremacist regimes during the period. Policy documents, housed in the National Records of Scotland, express UK Cabinet-level concerns about the actions of individual sporting clubs’ tours of the countries. This article will also look at how cabinet ministers, most notably Labour’s Minister for Sport Denis Howell, intervened to shape Scotland’s devolved sporting councils’ policies on contacts with South Africa and Rhodesia. Continue reading “The 1970 British Commonwealth Games: Scottish reactions to apartheid and sporting boycotts”

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One Yankee’s opinion, from the outside looking in.

Matthew L. McDowell

University of Edinburgh

(This is the text of a pre-publication print of: Matthew L. McDowell, ‘One Yankee’s opinion: from the outside looking in’, International Journal of the History of Sport, pre-published online 2017, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09523367.2017.1383391. There may be small textual differences between this version and the published version. Any reference made to this paper should refer to the published version.) Continue reading “One Yankee’s opinion, from the outside looking in.”

Scottish football and colonial Zimbabwe: sport, the Scottish diaspora, and ‘white Africa’

 

MATTHEW L. McDOWELL

University of Edinburgh

Abstract

In 1969 and 1970 respectively, Clyde and Kilmarnock Football Clubs embarked on highly controversial tours of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), then in conflict with the UK over its failure to enact a timetable for majority, non-white rule, and its 1965 unilateral declaration of independence to protect such a system. Despite defying the wishes of the UK Government, these tours were covered very little in Scottish newspapers, and there was little sustained public outcry. This article examines the uneven Scottish and Westminster reactions to the tours (in particular, Kilmarnock’s) in the context of broader policies and movements against Rhodesian and South African sport. It also examines Rhodesian press accounts of the trips, which stressed communion with elements of the Scottish diaspora within Rhodesian civic society. It also addresses the tours’ place within the broader context of work, race and migration during the period 1965-80, where the Rhodesian Front government and its white settler supporters were under continual siege from a multi-pronged nationalist resistance. Critically, this article asks whether or not Scotland and indeed Scottish sport can be extricated from the horrors of decolonisation, in a region where both had deep historic roots. Continue reading “Scottish football and colonial Zimbabwe: sport, the Scottish diaspora, and ‘white Africa’”

Football, Migration, and Industrial Patronage in the West of Scotland, c. 1870-1900

MATTHEW LYNN McDOWELL

Abstract

This article examines the history of football, migration, and industrial patronage in the counties of Ayrshire and Lanarkshire, Scotland, during the formative years of the Scottish Football Association (1870-1900). It begins with an overview on the formation of clubs and associations in the two counties up to 1900. The article focuses on two specific case studies: one investigates football’s relationship to Irish migration in Larkhall, Lanarkshire, the other examines the patronage of football clubs by paternalist coalmasters Bairds of Gartsherrie. Throughout this article, local football is observed in the context of class and religious identity within the two counties, as well as analyses of both the significance and limits of elite patronage in early Scottish football. Continue reading “Football, Migration, and Industrial Patronage in the West of Scotland, c. 1870-1900”

Sports history: outside of the mainstream? A response to Ward’s ‘Last Man Picked’ 

MATTHEW L. McDOWELL

Abstract

This essay is a response to Paul Ward’s piece ‘Last man picked. Do Mainstream Historians Need to Play with Sports Historians’ (The International Journal of the History of Sport (2012), doi:10.1080/09523367.2012.726617). While Ward admits that his work is a polemic, and is inspired largely by events in his youth, this response nevertheless questions the decision to critique an entire sub-discipline based on childhood experiences. Ward’s criticisms, however, are also practice-based, and this response also critically examines the lack of fresh evidence to support Ward’s claims regarding sports history’s existence outwith mainstream historical academia, and its supposed privileged place within the wider world of leisure history. The author makes that case that not only does sports history to take part in a wider historical dialogue, but must necessarily look to engage with sports studies practitioners. Finally, in the face of Ward’s criticisms, this essay reiterates what makes sport a vital subject for historians, in regional, national and international contexts. Continue reading “Sports history: outside of the mainstream? A response to Ward’s ‘Last Man Picked’ “

‘That little sugarloaf island’: Ailsa Craig, romance, reality, and the branding of Scottish sport and leisure, 1707-2013

MATTHEW L. McDOWELL

Abstract

This article examines the post-1707 history of Ailsa Craig, a small island off of the Ayrshire coast in the west of Scotland. The island was a site of tourism for Scots, and for English and other foreign travellers, who offered romantic depictions of what they saw as a uniquely Scottish natural landscape, inclusive of rare species of nesting seabirds. Of more relevance to the world of sport was that granite from Ailsa Craig comprised the majority of the world’s curling stones. In terms of its imagery, the island was also used as both a selling point and narrative device by journalists covering British Open golf tournaments at nearby Turnberry. These uses both represented globally-transmitted ideas of what was represented as an ‘authentic’ Scottish sporting material culture. This article goes beyond these depictions, however, to examine the island as a food store, and as a playground for its aristocratic owners, and to examine the quarrying ‘industry’ – both as a small-scale family affair, and later as a larger, even riskier venture. The place of Ailsa Craig in discourses on ‘Scottishness’ will be balanced against the difficulty of life on the island, and concerns over the environmental damage done by man’s presence there. Continue reading “‘That little sugarloaf island’: Ailsa Craig, romance, reality, and the branding of Scottish sport and leisure, 1707-2013”

The Edinburgh 1970 British Commonwealth Games: Representations of Identities, Nationalism and Politics

FIONA SKILLEN and MATTHEW L. McDOWELL

Abstract

This paper examines the 1970 British Commonwealth Games, held in Edinburgh. It discusses the marketing, ceremonial presentation, and iconography of an event dubbed ‘the Friendly Games’ by Prince Philip, but one which nevertheless had its share of boycott threats and political intrigue. The iconography of these events is placed within the context of Scottish national and political identity, as the presentation of the event – controversially, in some quarters – utilised Balmoral-esque ‘Scottish’ tropes, including tartan Scottish team uniforms, and the copious use of ‘Scottish’ music, imagery and literature in the media and ceremonial elements of the Games. It examines the marketing of the 1970 Games, inclusive of: sponsorship and advertising, the creation of a mascot and logo, and songs. The ceremonial elements of the competition, including the participation of the royal family, opening and closing ceremonies, stamps and medals, and the arrangements surrounding these events and objects are considered. This piece also briefly examines the context of Scottish/British domestic politics, as well as wider contemporary tensions related to ex-Empire nations’ participation. Continue reading “The Edinburgh 1970 British Commonwealth Games: Representations of Identities, Nationalism and Politics”

The field of play: phases and themes in the historiography of pre-1914 Scottish football

MATTHEW L. McDOWELL

Abstract

This article follows up on Adrian Harvey’s piece ‘The Emergence of Football in Nineteenth-Century England: The Historiographic Debate’ (IJHS 30, no. 18: 2154-2163). It reviews the historiography of Scottish football on the period before the First World War. There is considerable literature on the topic, but it is not by any means evenly distributed to cover Scotland’s geography, nor does it give balanced coverage to a wide-enough variety of thematic subjects. The author places this historiography into six broad categories which reflect the audience, research interests, and methodology of the pieces, and offers a critical assessment of work still to be done in what is a disparate field. Continue reading “The field of play: phases and themes in the historiography of pre-1914 Scottish football”