Horse racing and the British 1919-1939

Huggins, Mike ORCID logo ORCID: (2003) Horse racing and the British 1919-1939. Studies in Popular Culture . Manchester University Press. Item availability may be restricted.

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Horseracing has a powerful claim to be Britain’s leading interwar sport. Cricket had its adherents; indeed, Jack Williams, the historian of interwar cricket, shows that its supporters presented it as the English ‘national game’. But British racegoers claimed that racing was ‘our real national sport’. On the basis of active participation, cricket was certainly superior with somewhere between 200,000 and 400,000 playing each week in the early 1930s, although football had even more participants, with 37,000 clubs affiliated to the Football Association by 1937, and many others unaffiliated. In terms of spectatorship, First Division soccer attracted average crowds of over 30,000 in 1938–39, but cricket only got large crowds for test matches and a few important county matches, and these probably never exceeded 50,000 in a single day. Such figures were dwarfed by the crowds attracted to racing’s ‘national’ events: the Grand National, the Derby, ‘Royal’ Ascot and the Doncaster St Leger. Even small race meetings got higher crowds than most country cricket games. If a third criterion, interest in betting on the sport, was included, horseracing was supreme, although football pools and greyhound racing were also important. It was racing, not cricket or soccer, which really sold newspapers across Britain. Widespread public interest in results, longer traditions, its year-round season and largest crowds, all support racing’s claims as Britain’s leading national sport.

Item Type: Book
Publisher: Manchester University Press
ISBN: 0719065283
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Departments: Academic Departments > Institute of Arts (IOA) > Humanities
Depositing User: Insight Administrator
Date Deposited: 22 Nov 2010 10:07
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2024 18:16
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