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I am professor of history at De Montfort University's International Centre for Sports History and Culture (ICSHC). 

My latest book is The Oval World: A Global History of Rugby which is published by Bloomsbury and was awarded the 2016 Aberdare Prize for sports history book of the year, the fourth time I have won the accolade. My next book How Football Began: A Global History of How the World's Football Codes Were Born, will be published by Routledge on 4 September 2018.

My weekly Rugby Reloaded podcast on the history of rugby can be downloaded from the iTunes Store or Soundcloud.

I have worked as a historical consultant for a number of TV and radio shows, including Alfie Allen's Football: A Brief History, BBC Radio 4's thirty-part series Sport and the British with Clare Balding and the BBC4 television documentary Eddie Waring: Mr Rugby League, as well as appearing in numerous other television and radio programmes. 

I am a trustee of Rugby League Cares, the rugby league charity, a member of the RFU's World Rugby Museum sub-committee, a director of the Hull Kingston Rovers Community Trust and a member of the Museum Board of the Raeburn Place Foundation. I am also a member of the Historians' Panel of the National Football Museum Hall of Fame. In April 2017 I was appointed to the Yorkshire and Humber committee of the Heritage Lottery Fund

I was chairperson of the British Society for Sports History in 2001 and the editor of the academic journal Sport in History from 2001 to 2007. Before joining the ICSHC I led the Institute for Northern Studies at Leeds Metropolitan University,

I am currently supervising two PhD students, including Lydia Furse's Arts and Humanities Research Council PhD studentship 'Women and Rugby Union: A Social and Cultural History', in partnership with the Rugby Football Union, and Craig Thomas on sport and the BBC in the inter-war years.. 

Previous supervisions include the history of women in rugby league (in partnership with the Rugby Football League), women's cricket in the inter-war years, sport in pre-World War One Bradford, the political sociology of the North of England, the history of rugby in Irelandcricket in Victorian Yorkshire,  an oral history of England rugby union internationals, 1945-95, and the anthropology of the rugby league transfer system.

If you would like to discuss research or study with me, or any other matter related to my work, please contact me at