After 20 years in primary education I became head of Humanities at Charlotte Mason College in 1986, and then Head of Postgraduate Teacher Education at Lancaster University. I then worked for OFSTED before joing St Martin's College in 2002, lecturing in history and sport. I gained a professorship there in  2009.  I am on the editorial consultancy boards of five peer-reviewed academic leisure and sports history journals in Britain, France, the USA and South America. I’m a former Senior Review Editor of the International Journal of the History of Sport and a former Chair of the North American Society for Sport History Book Award Committee. I’ve given invited addresses and keynote speeches at many universities across Europe, Britain, the Far East, Australia and North America. I was proud to win the prestigious NASSH book award in 2000 for the best book on sport history published that year. I was given the International Society for Sport History and Physical Education Award in 2009 for my ‘outstanding scientific contribution to the history of sport’.

Qualifications and memberships

I am a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and a Fellow and President of the European Committee for Sports History, I was elected a Fellow of the British Society for Sports History in 2017 for my ‘outstanding contributions to the history of sport’. I was given the International Society for Sport History and Physical Education Award in 2009 for my ‘outstanding scientific contribution to the history of sport’.

Qualifications PhD Lancaster University 1999; MA CNAA 1983; BA Hons Open University, 1975 First Class; Dipoma in Management Studies CNAA 1986; Diploma in Reading Studies Open University 1988; Dipoma in Religious Studies Cambridge University 1976; Cert.Ed. Durham 1967.

Academic and research interests

The sport and leisure history of Britain from 1600 to 1960s: most recently topics have included histories of sport tourism, match-fixing in historical perspective, sport and visuality and a cultural history of sport in the Age of Industry. .

Altogether  I have published over a hundred refereed articles, book chapters, edited collections and monographs on the history of leisure, sport and tourism:

  • two book-length general histories of Victorian and inter-war British sport: The Victorians and Sport and Sport and the English 1918-1939 (with Jack Williams)
  • general books on Victorian leisure. E.g. my well-received book The Victorians and Vice(Bloomsbury Press) was published in December 2015.
  • Specialist books and many articles on the history of British and American horse racing. My book Flat Racing and British Society 1790-1914(Frank Cass, 2000) was well received as was Horseracing and the British (Manchester University Press, 2004). The third in the trilogy, Horse Racing and British Society in the Long Eighteenth Century (Boydell 2018) I finished recently.
  • edited collections relating to less respectable middle-class Victorian leisure patterns; the upper classes and sport; the complex inter-relationships between sport and visual sources. I also edited a collection on the history of sport tourism, and another on match fixing in sport in historical perspective.
  • I have written many chapters and peer-reviewed articles dealing with twentieth and nineteenth century leisure topics such as British football; tourism and seaside holidays; sports gambling and bookmakers; the music hall; and the impact on sport and leisure of radio, newsreels, television, the press, the census and the railways. One of my essays, on British newsreels, soccer and popular culture, was viewed as the joint best article of 2007 in the International Journal of the History of Sport.
  • I’ve deliberately set out to exploit many previously under-explored sources, including newsreels, comics and cartoons, dialect poetry, music hall song and even sporting gravestones, to find new angles on standard narratives, present material in new ways, or give voice to neglected groups and individuals.
  • Beyond my national and international work, I’ve produced regional and local studies of sport, leisure and tourism in the north-east and north-west of England.

Research supervision

I am happy to supervise any research students in the above fields


Publications 2018-2021. See Personal webpage: for full list

‘The British Sporting Comic ‘For Boys’ in its ‘Golden Age’ (c.1950-c. 1975): Sources and Themes’, European Studies in Sport History 2018 pp. 75-10.

Horse racing and British Society in the Long Eighteenth Century (Boydell, 2018).

'Cultural transfer, circulation and diffusion between Britain and Europe 1700-1880: the case of thoroughbred horse racing and breeding', International Journal of the History of Sport 36, 17-18, (2019), pp 1510-1530. 

Proto-modernity and Sport in Britain', in Playing Pasts ed.  Dave Day (2020), pp. 1-19.

Mike Huggins and Rob Hess (eds) Match-fixing and Sport: Historical Perspectives(Routledge 2020).

'Associativity, Gambling and the Rise of Protomodern British Sport, 1660-1800', Journal of Sport History 47, 1 (2020), 1-17.

'Angling', in Routledge Handbook of Global Sport ed.  John Nauright and Sarah Zipp. (2020), pp.416-429.

'Sport and Journalism in the 18th and 19th Centuries'  in Routledge Handbook of Sports Journalism ed. Rob Steen et al. (2020) pp. 16-35.

Currently forthcoming: 

Mike Huggins (ed.)  A Cultural History of Sport in the Age of Industry (Bloomsbury 2021).

'The Purposes of Sport in the Early Modern Age' for Bloomsbury Cultural History of Sport in the Age of Enlightenment ed. Rebekka Mallinckdrod (Bloomsbury, 2021).

'Sports and Games during the Enlightenment' for the Bloomsbury Cultural History of Leisure in Age of Enlightenment ed. Peter Borsay (Bloomsbury, 2021).

'Urbs in Rure; racegrounds, grandstands and the commercialized consumption of urban leisure 1750-1805',  Urban History, 2021.

(with Keith Gregson) 'Principles, Pragmatism and Pressure: The Rugby Union Clubs of North-East England 1895-1914',  Northern History (2021)

'Sport and the Visual' for the Routledge Companion to Sports History ed. Doug Booth, Murray Phillips and Carly Adams (2021)

'Match-fixing: A Normal Feature of Sport in the Past? for Understanding Match-Fixing in Sport: Theory and Practice eds Bram Constandt and A. E. Manoli (Routledge, 2022).

Recent external roles

Recent PhD. examinations at De Montfort and Chichester.

Chair Ambleside u3a

Chair European Committee for Sports History.

Recently reviewed book proposals  for Routledge and Virginia University Press, and various journal articles for several academic publishers.

I have a Visiting researcher award from the National Sport Library. Virginia through August/September 2021, covid permitting