Bradford Sport History

Interested in Bradford sport history? Have a look at VINCIT  an online journal dedicated to writings about the origins and development of sport in Bradford, embracing all codes and clubs. I have written a number of features that have been published, including the most recent which tells the long forgotten story of Shipley FC.

My interest in Shipley FC arose from wanting to discover more about a club that would have been my local side, playing opposite the Ring Of Bells public house. It reveals an alternate perspective to the history of rugby in the Bradford district and demonstrates that the story of how spectator sport developed in Bradford cannot be told with an exclusive focus on Bradford FC and Manningham FC alone.

Football supporters in Bradford have tended to ignore what happened before the formation of Bradford City AFC in 1903 despite the fact that the club had its origins as a rugby organisation. (NB Prior to World War One the term ‘football’ was synonymous with both rugby and soccer but in West Yorkshire it tended to mean rugby.)

Rugby League followers have similarly tended to overlook what happened prior to the launch of the Northern Union in 1895. Going further back you find common roots between rugby and cricket in Bradford.

The history of the origins of sport in Bradford and these common links has been ignored. Likewise the subtleties of what happened have been missed altogether and it is a subject area that has fallen foul of simplistic narratives. Surprisingly perhaps it has been overlooked that Bradford sport in the nineteenth century was heavily influenced by the military and motives of charitable giving. Sport was also recognised by our Victorian forebears as an important form of expression for civic pride and identity (or what was then described as local patriotism), another theme that has been forgotten despite its relevance for today.

If you want to discover more you will find plenty online. There are links to what I have written about the origins of Bradford sport here. The drop down menu on the VINCIT site will also take you to features about different sports in the district with contributions from a number of other writers and enthusiasts. You can read more in my books about the early history of Bradford sport and in particular, football (embracing both rugby and soccer) before 1908.

John Dewhirst