My connection to Saracens RFC started in my school years, as a regular spectator at Bramley Road for the 1st XV home matches in the 1970s. In 1991, I arrived back at the Club with my 6-year-old son & quickly became involved with coaching his Age Group – a role which culminated in the first ever Saracens tour to Australia in 2002. In 2003-4 I was instrumental in re-establishing both Colts u.19 and Senior rugby at Saracens, coaching the newly-reformed 1st XV to successive Herts-Middlesex League titles in 2005-6 and 2006-7.
I coached on the Club’s first tour to Argentina in 2011, and have subsequently held the role of Coaching Development Manager for the Amateur Section. I am the proud recipient of an Honorary Vice Presidency & Life Membership from the Club for my contributions.
I developed my interest in Sports History at Birmingham University, where I completed my B.A. (Hons) & was awarded the David Munrow Prize for Physical Education in 1980. I then studied for my Master’s Degree at the University of Alberta, Canada and wrote my thesis on ‘Sport, Propaganda & The Great War’. I have presented papers at a number of academic conferences, including the World Student Games Conference in 1983 & the Los Angeles Pre-Olympic Conference in 1984. The latter paper, “Play Up! Play Up! And Win the War!” was published in the Journal of Contemporary History.
My personal involvement with Saracens goes back over 20 years, having played for the amateur section at Bramley Road since the age of 6 years old. Since then I have played, toured and captained teams right through to my current involvement as captain of the Amateur 1st XV. Historically, my family also has significant connections with Saracens, as two of my great uncles Ray (ORG) & Trevor (WT) Williams captained the side during the inter-war period. Ray penned the first significant history of the club in 1926, and was to go on to act as president of the club in 1958-60.
I am due to start my PhD researching into the history of sport for people with intellectual disability in October 2016 having gained funding support through the AHRC Midlands 3 Cities program. Previously as an undergraduate I gained a 1st from the University of York in history, and proceeded to gaining a Distinction in my MA in ‘Sports history and culture,’ at the International Centre for Sports History and Culture, De Montfort University Leicester.
My particular historical preference has always been at looking at the influence of sport on society, researching into themes such as disability, race and masculinity. My MA dissertation focused on debunking the myths around James Peters, England’s first black rugby player, and his involvement with the 1906 Springbok tour. I presented my work at the British Society for Sports history conference in 2015, for which I won the Richard Cox Postgraduate Prize for best paper which I am currently expanding into a book. Previously I have also researched into the 1905 All Blacks and their impact on the debate surrounding British masculinity. Both works were picked up by the World Rugby Museum in Twickenham and my work on the 1905 team is stored at the All Blacks museum in Palmerston North.