Pass It On: Scotland’s Sporting Heritage Conference – Ian MacKintosh

Friday 24th February 2017 will go down as an important day for Scottish Sporting Heritage. A conference entitled Pass it On! Celebrating Scotland’s Sporting Heritage was held at the University of Stirling under the auspices of  Sport in Museums Network. The conference was organised by Sport in Museums Network Scotland Representative Karl Magee, assisted by Professor Richard Haynes and Ian Mackintosh. The purpose of the conference was to establish a network for promoting Scotland’s sporting heritage.

Pass it on! Celebrating Scotland’s Sporting Heritage

The conference was held over a full day and was divided into 3 sections:

  1. Unlocking Scotland’s sporting heritage,
  2. Using Scotland’s sporting heritage
  3. The Future of Scotland’s sporting heritage

The conference was attended by delegates representing a wide scope of sports including Rugby, Swimming, Football, Shinty Cricket, Curling, Cycling and Golf. There was also a mixture of sports journalists, historians, researchers and archivists who all have a special interest in promoting Scottish sport.

The conference was opened by Jon Doig who welcomed all to the conference and provided a background as to how the Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive has now become an integral collection in the University of Stirling Archives and Special Collections.

The conference was an opportunity for individuals and organisations to come together to establish a sporting heritage network in Scotland. One of the main themes from each speaker was how there is a huge collection of Scottish sporting heritage held in museums (national and local) and in many sports clubhouses, but is not always kept in proper condition or is accessible to the general public. The conference heard about how sport can play an important part in education and activity for the young, and in reminiscence and general conversation in the general public which can provide social inclusion and health benefits across the generations.

The opening presentation was provided by Academic and Broadcaster, Dr Hugh Dan McLennan. Hugh Dan’s presentation was about how little we know of what collections are available and where they are stored. He highlighted how the sport of Shinty didn’t have an Archive and was originally stored in enthusiastic collectors’ homes and garages. Now the collection has a home in the newly established Inverness Archive in Inverness. He also highlighted the newly established Sports Heritage Scotland and how it is acting as an umbrella organisation for the sports of Golf, Athletics, Cricket, Rugby, Football, and Curling in Scotland and its links to reminisce groups with Alzheimer’s Scotland.

Hugh Dan McLennan in full flow
Hugh Dan McLennan talks about the creation of Sport Heritage Scotland

Unlocking Scotland’s Sporting Heritage

This presentation was by Prof. Richard Haynes, Archivist Karl Magee, and myself to talk about how we have used the Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive. We initially created Hosts and Champions: Scotland in the Commonwealth Games as a small exhibition for the Glasgow 2014 Games. Since then, the archive has grown and Hosts and Champions became a touring exhibition around Scotland. We not only promote the story of Scotland in the Commonwealth Games but we are connecting with local communities. Karl spoke about how the Archive has grown from the initial collection handed over by CGS to the huge collection we now hold as individual collections have been donated to the archive. We have also had other people who were involved in the games either as a competitor or volunteer donate their personal Games memorabilia. I spoke about the importance of oral history interviews with individuals who were involved in the Commonwealth Games either as member of Team Scotland or as a volunteer when Scotland hosted the games in 1970, 1986, and 2014. Professor Haynes spoke about how the collection can play an important role in education and help connect generations by involving all age groups and enable social interaction.

Conference images 1

Images from Conference Exhibition 2
Hosts and Champions: Scotland in the Commonwealth Games Exhibition created from exhibits in the Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive

Richard McBrearty of the Scottish Football Museum at Hampden Park, Glasgow spoke about the establishment of the Scottish Football Museum. He spoke about the collection of documents and memorabilia which are held in the museum which now provides a central hub repository for collections and a centre of excellence for researchers to visit. The museum provides an exhibition about football and has additional space for other sports to host an exhibition. The benefits are that it generates football to the museum and an increased access to sporting heritage and creates a new audience for sports.

Richard McBrearty
Richard McBrearty of the Scottish Football Museum.

Other museums’ presentations included The British Golf Museum and the Bill McLaren Foundation, both of whom provided excellent evidence of the importance of sporting collections and what can be accessed by the general public and historians. They also spoke about how not all of the information in the collection is complete and that by digitisation of the collections it helps to maintain the collections.

Using Scotland’s Sporting Heritage

This part of the conference saw presentations about how sports heritage can be used by independent researchers, academics and special interest groups and the benefits of this accessibility. The first presentation was by Andy Mitchell and John Hutchinson about a private collection which has provided invaluable information for their new work about John Hope and the Edinburgh Foot Ball Club. Dr. Matthew McDowell presented about how academic reports and Scottish history in Scottish records allows for potential great benefits to education and generating a new generation of sports historians. Finally, Chris Wilkins provided an insight into how a sports heritage project about the Commonwealth Games in 2014 created a collaborative project between school children and the elderly. The project saw social connections established as both groups interacted through their interest in sport.

In conclusion, the day has proved to be an important step forward in promoting Scotland’s sporting heritage. The conference ended with a general discussion on how to take the idea of passing on Scotland’s sporting heritage to a new audience. New network connections have been established, and feedback from the audience has been very positive. Future meetings have been discussed and are in the pipeline and the future is looking very positive. We have taken an important step forward and now we need to keep up the momentum that has been generated. We are in a healthy position of protecting Scotland’s sporting heritage and will continue to celebrate this as we seek to pass it on to the next generation.

Further information about the conference can be found here.

Other links you might find useful:

Sports in Museums Network:

Scottish Football Museum:

British Golf Museum:

Sports Heritage Scotland:

Sporting Memories Network:

Hosts and Champions:

Bill McLaren:

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