A Historical and Sociological study of an African-Caribbean football club in the East Midlands c.1970-2010
This is a historical and sociological case study of an East Midlands-based, African-Caribbean-founded football club, Meadebrook Cavaliers c.1970 – 2010. Essentially, it is in response to a relative lack of research on the British African-Caribbean male experience in leisure and sport; and of ‘race’ and local level (‘grass-roots’) football club social histories in the UK. Findings are gleaned from an analysis of sources traditionally employed by historians and data extrapolated through the use of ethnographic and interview techniques. This includes data collected during the researcher’s observations as a participant within the club (as a club member and player over a two-year period). Attention is paid to the formation of this largely masculine ‘black’ space; the effects of sporting success on this club’s capacity to remain representative of the local African-Caribbean community (especially men); and on how, and in what ways, the development of local black football clubs has been influenced by more recent social, economic and political developments at both the local and national levels. In doing so, the thesis demonstrates how the sporting, spatial and social development of this football club has been intimately connected to changes in the wider political, social and sporting terrains within which the club has been located. It also empirically and explicitly connects the growth and changing functions of the organisation to the changing attitudes, social realities and identity politics of the club’s largely African-Caribbean male membership and to the changing demands and expectations over time of the wider black community. The thesis shows how the club moved from its origins as a parks-based team to becoming a successful senior level football club, and finally to achieving charitable status. In doing so, it also provides an example of the ways in which longitude studies of minority ethnic and local football clubs are particularly useful in the exploration of the changing social identities and cultural dynamics of the BAME communities that constitute them. In this case, the club as a space of sport and community provides a lens through which we can see and ‘track’ how diverging experiences of social mobility, well-being, integration and racism during the last four decades, have contributed to the emergence of markedly different inter and intra-generational perceptions of what it means to be ‘black’ in this context – and thus to an increasingly heterogeneous African-Caribbean identity in late-modern Britain. Importantly, the thesis also argues that local football has, at various points during the last four decades, been both a unifying and fracturing force in helping to shape the experiences and identities of local African-Caribbean men within the region.
- PhD