Features about the origins of sport in Bradford

Thanks for visiting my blog! [Home page] This post provides links to articles I have written about the origins of sport in Bradford, the development of commercialised sport in the nineteenth century and the early history of cricket, rugby and soccer in Bradford.

My background

I am a longstanding supporter of my local club, Bradford City and have an extensive collection of football memorabilia.

My interest in sports history has been shaped by a number of influences but principally stems from a fascination with the history of Bradford, its industrial and urban development as well as its social history. I have collected football artefacts as a means of connecting with the past and strongly believe that history – and indeed the history of sport – can be told through objects. Having studied economic history at university, and as an accountant specialising in undertaking business reviews and providing support to off-plan businesses, I also have a particular interest in the evolution of sport as an industry in itself.

These themes are evident in my most recent books which seek to examine the history of football clubs as commercial organisations, to understand how financial circumstances in the past dictated decision-making and outcomes. My books also feature a wealth of historic memorabilia illustrated in colour as a means of making relics accessible to a wider audience.

I was co-founder of The City Gent (Bradford City) fanzine in 1984. I have authored four books on the history of Bradford football and the origins of sport in the district and been involved in the production of five others. I am currently writing a history of the Bradford City / Park Avenue rivalry which will be the sixth volume in the BANTAMSPAST ‘History Revisited’ series. (NB Another title featuring sport in nineteenth century Bradford is also planned, details to be announced later.) You can find details of the books on this site from this link. Copies of A HISTORY OF BRADFORD CITY AFC IN OBJECTS, ROOM AT THE TOP and LIFE AT THE TOP are still available and can be purchased direct from the publisher, BANTAMSPAST, PO Box 307, SHIPLEY BD18 9BT price £20 each including postage (cheques payable to BANTAMSPAST).

I have contributed a series of articles to the Bradford City AFC programme during the 2017/18 season and these are published on this site. They feature varied themes from the origins of soccer in Bradford  / the Boar’s Head identity / the influence of the military on sport in Bradford / the origins of Valley Parade and its early development / the story behind how BCAFC became known as the Bantams and various topics relating to the history of both City and Bradford Park Avenue.

Also published on this site are a number of other varied articles, from the history of railways in Bradford to the story of Harry Garnett of Bradford FC (also a former RFU President).

I have written a number of articles about the origins of Bradford sport which have been published variously on the following websites:  PLAYING PASTS and VINCIT, an online journal of Bradford Sport History as well as The World Rugby Museum website

These, as well as planned future articles, are summarised below.


Published on PLAYING PASTS

The role of social networks on the early development of football 

The case of Bradford FC and the origins of football as a business

The origins of professional football in Bradford

Reconsidering 1895 – a Bradford perspective


Published on the World Rugby Museum website…

Bradford’s contribution to rugby history 


Published on VINCIT

The significance of sport in shaping a Bradford identity 

History of the Bradford Charity Cup

Compendium of Bradford sports club names  

The late development of soccer in Bradford 

What’s in a name? Semantics about Bradford City and Park Avenue  

John Nunn, Bradford physical aesthete

The story of the Belle Vue Hotel, a nineteenth century pub adopted as a sports headquarters in Bradford 

150th anniversary of football in Bradford, 1867-2017

The history of Bradford rugby and the case to reassess the split in English rugby in 1895  My findings from investigation of the origins and development of Bradford football provide sufficient evidence to challenge the orthodox view that the split in English rugby was driven by social class as opposed to the economics of sport.

Bradford’s rugby heritage  


Other articles are scheduled in coming months on the following subjects:

  • the origins and early history of cricket in Bradford;
  • the story of the long forgotten junior rugby clubs in late Victorian Bradford;
  • the origins of soccer in Bradford;
  • the history of sports journalism in Bradford;
  • the political history of Odsal Stadium; and
  • the influence of the railways on Bradford sport.


International Football History Conference, Manchester 2018

In June, 2018 I am presenting a joint paper with Professor Wray Vamplew at the City Football Academy, Manchester examining the transformation of sport from a recreational activity to an entertainment business, specifically with regards to the experience in Bradford and Glasgow. This will form the basis of two planned academic papers to be published later this year.

ROOM AT THE TOP and LIFE AT THE TOP provide a detailed account of how football – both rugby and soccer – became commercialised in Bradford and provide what may be the first business history of English rugby clubs.


Bradford Library – Presentation May 2018

On 19 May, 2018 I am giving a presentation at Bradford Library to talk about the origins of sport in Bradford, covering cricket, rugby and football and the early history of sport in the town. I will also be answering questions about my recent books.

JD Sporting Heritage of Bradford 19-May-18

Anyone wishing to contact me or collaborate can do so through a DM tweet, refer my account @jpdewhirst







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