UK Web Archive blog

14 posts categorized "Sports"

01 September 2021

Web Archive Summer of Sport Roundup

By Jason Webber, Web Archive Engagement Manager, British Library

If you like sport then this summer will have been a fantastic time for you. There has been the Football European Cup, Olympics and Paralympics, Tour de France, Wimbledon and many others.

Over the last few months, we in the UK Web Archive, have attempted to show off some of the sport that we collect and have archived for future generations. Let's look back at the wonderful  #WebArchiveSummerOfSport

Alternative Sports in the UK Web Archive - Part 1

Cheese Rolling, Bog Snorkeling, Conkers and The Chap Olympiad, just some of the more unique 'sports' we have collected.

Cheese rolling champs website

Football Associations in the UK Web Archive

The organisations that run football and are in charge of the respective home nation teams. Scotland, Wales and England all competed in this years European Cup.

Welsh FA website

Scottish Sport in the UK Web Archive

We teamed up with colleagues from the National Library of Scotland looking at particularly Scottish sports that have made their way into the archive. Shinty, Highland Games and Curling?


Alternative Sports in the UK Web Archive - Part 2

Grass roots sport such as open water swimming, hiking, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding have made it into the web archive too.

Peter pan cup londonist website

London’s Olympic Legacy: Local, National and International Aspirations

Legacy is a much talked about aspect of hosting an Olympic games, here Phd researcher Caio Mello looks back at the London 2012 games.

Aquatics centre

London 2012 Paralympics in the UK Web Archive

The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games were an incredible time in the national consciousness. The Paralympic games in particular felt special and here we highlight just some of the websites that were collected.

GB Wheelchair rugby website

We hope you enjoyed this series on sport? Do let us know through twitter if there are future topics you would like us to cover?

24 August 2021

London 2012 Paralympics in the UK Web Archive

By Jason Webber, Web Archive Engagement Manager, British Library

"Our greatest of days witnessed through disbelieving eyes

AND that was that, a summer like no other now consigned to the pages of history. A cherished memory of endless days and golden glory witnessed through often disbelieving eyes."


More than the Games website - 2012

The London 2012 Paralympic Games was, then as now, seen as a great success and a new milestone for for how disability is viewed by the wider public. Channel Four made the iconic advert 'Meet the Superhumans' that arguably created a distinct and positive tone leading into the games. They also broadcast an unprecedented (at that time) 150 hours of Paralympic sport.

The term 'superhuman' is seen by some as controversial and problematic and it is notable that the slogan for the 2016 games were changed to 'Yes I can'.  Language around disability can often be complicated, as words and phrases used historically are now considered offensive.  Additionally words or phrases intended to convey a positive message can sometimes be misguided and have a negative impact.  Particularly if thought of by someone without the lived experience of a disability.


Official website of the Paralympic Movement - 2012

What is undeniable, however, is the success of the sporting event itself. 'Team GB' won 34 Gold medals and 120 in total. Athletes Sarah Storey and David Weir each won 4 Gold in Swimming and Athletics respectively. Great Britain ended third in the medal table, a fantastic achievement.

The UK Web Archive extensively collected websites for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games collection that now represent a superb resource of this key time in modern history. The collection holds nearly 500 target websites, the vast majority of which can be viewed anywhere online.


Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby - 2012


British Disabled Fencing Association - 2012

Do you know of UK Paralympic athletes and sports for the Tokyo 2020 games? Nominate here.

08 July 2021

London’s Olympic Legacy: Local, National and International Aspirations

By Caio Mello, Doctoral Researcher at the School of Advanced Study, University of London

For two years, I have been studying the media coverage of London and Rio’s Olympic legacies. See the previous posts, where I explained the project’s main objective of understanding and conceptualizing the meaning of the word legacy based on the news coverage of the Games. I have also written about how controversial the word 'legacy' can be once it is a term under dispute by several actors in the political arena. In the most recent post, I introduced the use of SHINE as a platform for exploratory analysis of news events and I briefly described how it was a useful tool for my research project.

Olympic Aquatic centre, London

The Approach
In this post, I aim to discuss the different approaches taken by news organisations, government websites and activist blogs to the legacy of the London Olympics. Although my initial interest was mainly focused on understanding the journalistic framing of legacy, looking at other sources has proved to be beneficial in a comparative perspective. For this purpose, I searched for articles on ‘Olympic legacy London’ via SHINE and selected, among the 10 domains provided by the platform, three news websites (, and, one official government website ( and one activist blog (

The Research
Texts were collected, processed, cleaned and filtered using Python scripts and combined with articles extracted from the live web. The data was ranked and the top 50 bigrams (co-occurrence of two words) mentioned in the texts were transferred to a spreadsheet using the Natural Language Toolkit (NLTK) - a suite of Python libraries for linguistic analysis. The list of trends was then used in a first distant reading to give a sense of the most discussed topics and then combined later on with a more qualitative approach of close reading for a deep understanding of context.


These bigrams have revealed a significant difference in the way the Olympic legacy of London was approached by different sources from 2004 to 2020. Among the most cited bigrams by news publishers are ‘young people’ and ‘school sport’, both referring to the promises included in the legacy plan of London published in 2008 by the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS). Promises number 1 and 3, entitled ‘making the UK a world-leading sporting nation’ and ‘inspiring a generation of young people’, included the engagement of young people in physical activities by increasing the offer of high-quality sports. The drop in the number of 16 to 25-year-olds playing sport after the games was one of the main topics highlighted by the media.

While both ‘young people’ and ‘school sport’ are a response to the legacy plan published by the DCMS, the most mentioned bigram in the list of texts analysed did not receive much attention in the document: ‘west ham’.

The destiny of the Olympic Stadium became one of the most controversial events around the Olympic legacy of London. Initially, the disagreement on whether it should remain as an athletics venue or be handed over to West Ham United drew the attention of the media with important voices like the Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell and ex-London mayor Ken Livingstone supporting the opposition against the football club. The dispute between West Ham and Tottenham for the Olympic Stadium and the threat of becoming a ‘white elephant’ - a recurrent fear in recent Olympic history shed light on the place as a symbol of London’s Olympic legacy.

The media coverage of London’s legacy contrasts with the much more abstract and broader bigram found in the texts published by the British government: ‘international inspiration’. Articles published by have revealed as focused mainly on The International Inspiration programme, a project to promote sports in ‘some of the most disadvantaged communities in the world’. While the media seemed to be looking for internal issues, the government was targeting international audiences. The choice of the word ‘inspiration’ references a much more immaterial and abstract idea of legacy that contrasts with the very concrete discussion around the Olympic Stadium hosted by the media.

Looking at the bigrams obtained from activist blogs, the concerns are shown to have been more local, targeting primarily challenges faced by citizens of East London. Among the main bigrams are ‘Stratford City’, ‘new jobs’ and ‘public housing’. The community-focused approach highlights a significant discrepancy between the framing of the event. These are preliminary steps to understand the multiple ways in which London’s legacy has been understood and narrated. The different perspectives indicate a distance between immediate public interest and government official communication regarding the most important sporting event in the world.

The Summer Olympic Games are hosted every four years by a different global city bringing together its promises to be an urban development catalyst and also the past events frustrations. Understanding the communication processes around the Olympics is fundamental for the future planning of effective legacies that correspond to the interests of the nations’ citizens.

*This post summarizes the preliminary results presented in my talk at ‘Documenting the Olympics and the Paralympics’, an event organised and hosted by the British Library in collaboration with the British Society of Sports History (BSSH), the International Centre for Sports History and Culture at De Montfort University (ICSHC) and the School of Advanced Study (SAS).

**This research is part of the CLEOPATRA Innovative Training Network, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. It has been conducted under a PhD developed at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. For more information:

30 June 2021

Alternative Sports in the UK Web Archive - Part 2

By Jason Webber, Web Archive Engagement Manager, British Library

The latest post in the #WebArchiveSummerOfSport season that highlights the amazing UK sporting activities that have been captured in the UK Web Archive. This time we look at some popular recreational sports and pastimes.

Participation in outdoor and 'wild' swimming has increased over the last few years. Organisations such as Wild Swimming and the Outdoor Swimming Society give great information and guidance on this popular activity. One of the oldest and most famous outdoor swimming clubs is the Serpentine Swimming Club most famous for it's Christmas day race - The Peter Pan Cup. Bracing!

Peter pan cup londonist website

Peter pan Cup - Serpentine Swimming Club - Londonist Website, (archived 2017)

Hiking, Walking and Rambling
Walking in the countryside of the UK has a long tradition, helped by excellent maps by the Ordnance Survey and the wonderful web of public footpaths. These rights of way sometimes had to be fought for and the example of the 1932 mass trespass of Kinder Scout in the Peak District being one.

Peakland Heritage website - Kinder scout 1932

Peakland Heritgae website, archived 2013

There are many walking and hiking clubs in the UK, one of the most famous being the Ramblers Association. See this local branch in Swansea, based near the beautiful Gower Peninsula.


Swansea Ramblers website, archived 2014

Kayaking, Canoeing and Stand Up Paddle boarding
Messing about in boats is, of course, historically a wide-spread pastime in the UK, especially given the long coastline and many navigable waterways. Kayaking/canoeing takes many forms from the adrenaline ride of white water to the majesty of sea kayaking or just (literally) going with the flow. Much newer is 'Stand Up Paddle boarding' (SUP) where you stand on what looks like a surfboard and paddle along.

British Canoeing website - white water

British Canoeing website, archived 2015.

Canoe Wales website SUP

Canoe Wales website, archived 2017


24 June 2021

Scottish Sport in the UK Web Archive

By Trevor Thomson, Curator, National Library of Scotland

The latest in the #WebArchiveSummerOfSport series on the amazing range of UK sport that has been collected in the UK Web Archive.

It’s difficult to ignore; millions participate and tens of millions watch - sport is one of Britain’s national passions and to many is an obsession. This love for playing and watching sport is reflected in the proliferation of websites dedicated to everything from humble clubs to massive governing bodies running sports worth billions.

High profile to Grass roots
The big organisations, of course, already have a high profile but websites for minority sports or clubs at grass roots level are less likely to get much publicity. Their online presence becomes the record of their existence, what they do, and how they have performed. While once upon a time clubs might have produced a small book, perhaps to mark a centenary or significant success, many more are now continually updating their histories creating an ongoing narrative of their activities.

Scottish Sport
In modern times Scots participate in all sorts of sport. However, there are some games that are particularly associated with Scotland, and therefore have attracted concentrated activity in terms of website collection – golf, shinty, curling, Highland games and football.

Golf in Scotland is so old it seems that there are ongoing disagreements about exactly how and where it started. St. Andrews in Fife, Musselburgh in East Lothian, and Leith Links now in Edinburgh, all make claims of great age, first formalised courses or original set of rules. What these places all have in common is that they are on the East Coast of Scotland and it is these links courses almost synonymous with Scottish golf. However, just about every town and lots of smaller places in Scotland has at least one golf course, as the exercise to identify the relevant websites proved – 683 separate websites mainly for clubs, but also for national and local associations, courses, the history of golf as well as golf news and marketing. However, a site like Forgotten Greens shows that an established game like golf was once even more widespread in the country of its foundation.

If early pictures of golf are anything to go by, a caman (a stick for playing shinty) looks remarkably like a primitive golf club – there the similarity ends, for shinty is a team sport a bit like hockey, but much more like its Irish cousin hurling. Played with the caman and hard ball akin to a baseball, camans fly in shinty as the ball can be controlled in the air, so, to an outsider, the game can look incredibly dangerous. Mainly, but not exclusively, played in the Highlands and West Coast of Scotland, shinty was formalised by its governing body The Camanachd Association in 1893 – and its location in the less populated areas of Scotland means that it is represented in the Web Archive by a relatively small number of sites, a small but elegant fifty-nine, including the Camanachd Association’s own site which has much about the development of the game, as well as sections for women’s and school’s shinty.

Shinty - Sport scotland website

Major Investment for Shinty from the Sport Scotland website, archived 2014.

While shinty is very Scottish, curling is both international and very Scottish – teams from around the world compete in the Olympic and World Championship events, with Canada being fairly dominant and notable successes by Sweden and Switzerland. However, it must be one of the few sports that Scotland can claim to have recently been World Champions – and it is a game that has been formalised in Scotland for centuries. For example, the claim for the oldest curling club goes to Kilsyth Curling Club (who in keeping with their foundation in 1716, don’t actually have a website), and there are many others older than the governing body, the Royal Caledonian Curling Club (RCCC), a relative arriviste having been formed in 1838. The great age of these clubs suggests that Scottish winters must have delivered frozen ponds and lochs on a regular basis for the sport to flourish; and while outdoor curling is not a thing of the past, it is mainly played in purpose built rinks and ice arenas throughout Scotland.

Royal Caledonian Curling website

The Royal Caledonian Curling Club, archived in 2015.

Given the relatively small number of these rinks, there are an incredible number of curling clubs in Scotland – 584 listed on the RCCC website (although today they are less romantically known as Scottish Curling). While not every club has a website, at least 300 do, and those that do not are represented on provincial sites. However, looking at all this material shows that one of Scotland’s older sports is still thriving and its players are ranked among the best in the world.

Highland Games
Perhaps the most traditional of Scottish sports websites cover Highland Games. Part summer community event, part cultural festival, ‘games’ covers more than just the stereotyped heavy events like caber toss or stone put, as featured on the box of a famous brand of porridge. The events tend to be bespoke for the particular games, but will usually include athletics, bagpiping competitions and Highland dance - indeed, in Scotland, Highland dance is affiliated to the central sports agency Sport Scotland. The non-sport element is perhaps why such events are often known as ‘Highland Gatherings’, which also has connotations of the clan.

Highland game traditions - website

Highland Game Traditions at the website, archived 2015

Healthy at home (at least until a pandemic came along) Highland games are also one of Scotland’s cultural exports, delivered by the Scots diaspora particularly in North America and Australia/New Zealand, but also making an appearance in places like Brazil and the Czech Republic – of course websites for overseas games elude us, unless we ask for owners’ permission to make copies. However, when collating a list of Highland Games in Scotland, it is notable, as mentioned, that they are not always games nor are they always Highland, with events staged in places like North Berwick (East Lothian) or Ardrossan (North Ayrshire) – around 80 websites have been collected specifically about Highland games/gatherings in Scotland.

As noted, organised sport in Scotland has incredibly deep roots thanks in part to our English neighbours. Indeed, during the current festival of international football, it is worth noting that the first international match was staged at the West of Scotland Cricket Club in Glasgow in 1872 – like the recent clash, an inconclusive 0-0 draw. Despite Scotland’s relatively humble status in the professional game, football is incredibly popular all over the country, with hundreds of clubs playing a bewildering number of local leagues and tournaments, from Shetland to the Rhins of Galloway.

The senior clubs’ websites were easy to identify as were reasonably large teams playing in amateur, junior (‘junior’ in this context means ‘not senior’ as opposed to young people) and grass roots levels. However, just about everywhere in Scotland has a football club, often changing names and rebranding over time - the consequence is that there are hundreds of sites for obscure clubs all over the country.

Tartan kicks website

‘Scottish Women’s Premier League’ from Tartan Kicks, on the UK Web Archive.

The effort also helps capture the underrepresented area of women’s football - most sizeable clubs have a women’s section, but there are numerous clubs that have been established specifically for women and girls, while the work of the Scottish football authorities are captured in their site and the women’s leagues in Scotland.

So, thousands of sites have been found and included in the UK Web Archive relating to Scottish sport, an ongoing record of sport and its vagaries over time. While this has a direct benefit of creating a sports archive, looking in detail for this kind of material uncovers other organisational sites related to places in Scotland that would otherwise be difficult to find. And of course the sports team might be the only representation of a place, worth recording to put it on the map. The popularity of Scottish sports all over the country draws out the ongoing life of communities and their histories.

16 June 2021

Football Associations in the UK Web Archive

By Jason Webber, Web Archive Engagement Manager, British Library

This post is part of the #WebArchiveSummerOfSport series highlighting the many sporting websites that have been collected in the UK Web Archive.

Euro 2020
The European Championships 2020 (taking place in 2021) are underway across many venues across europe. In this tournament Scotland, England and Wales are all competing with England and Scotland in the same group. Eight games will take place in UK venues such as Wembley, Hampden Park.

Football Associations
The national football teams are organised and managed by their respective Associations. You can map many of the messages and developments at all levels of football through their websites in the archive.

Welsh FA
Here is the Welsh FA archived website from May 2010 that shows the senior men's squad. At the time Gareth Bale was a Defender at Tottenham Hotspur. 

Screenshot 2021-06-16 at 08.46.09

The National Library of Wales has recently written a blog on the Welsh Team at Euro 2016.

The English FA
This archived website from May 2016 shows The FA just before the previous European Championships. Use the calendar view to see the messages from after the tournament.

Screenshot 2021-06-16 at 08.48.10

Scottish FA
This is a screen shot of the live website of the Scottish FA. We collect the scottish FA website which is available to view in Reading rooms of UK Legal Deposit Libraries.

Scottish FA website

Good luck to all the home nations in the Euros! 

09 June 2021

Alternative Sports in the UK Web Archive - Part 1

By Jason Webber, Web Archive Engagement Manager, British Library

Welcome to the UK Web Archive 'Summer of Sport' season! Over the next few months we will show the many ways that sport is represented in the web archive.

Let's start with some of the more quirky and unusual 'sports' played in the UK:

Cheese Rolling Championship

Brave competitors chase a wheel of cheese down the terrifyingly steep Cooper's hill (1 in 1 in places) in Gloucestershire. First one to the bottom is the winner! The prize is a 7-8lb wheel of Double Gloucester cheese!

Cheese Rolling Championship website

The official Cheese Rolling Championship website in 2008.

The Chap Olympiad

What sport can there be for the well dressed 'person-about-town'? The 'Chap Olympiad' of course.

"A series of challenges ensue ranging from the frantic and frenetic to the barely mobile. The Tea Pursuit and Umbrella Jousting (where participants clamber aboard a bike holding an umbrella and a briefcase) see what is possibly the first use of Boris bikes as part of a sporting contest. The Tug Of Hair pits two teams against each other, pulling on a twenty feet long moustache until one team topples over. In Well-Dressage, individuals mount hobbyhorses and prance around to music while Not Tennis is the epitome of anti-sport with two players invited to do anything but play tennis."

Chap olympiad - Londonist website

Photos of the Chap Olympiad from the Londonist website in 2016.

Bog Snorkeling

If an athlete is not afraid of a spot of mud, what better event than the Bog Snorkeling Championships! Competitors aim to complete two consecutive lengths of a 60 yards (55 m) water-filled trench cut through a peat bog in the shortest time possible, wearing traditional snorkel, diving mask and flippers.

"Event rules state that no recognised swimming strokes are allowed at the event so it all comes down to honing down the perfect technique to power through the murky water."

Bog snorkling - Visit Wales Blog

Bog Snorkeling on the Visit Wales website from April 2013

World Conker Championships

Threading a piece of string through a horse chestnut seed and hitting another one has been a long standing feature of school playgrounds. Conkers, however, is a serious business and over a thousand are used in each World Championship contest!

World conker championships

Photo of the World Conker Championship 2016.

BBC News article on the World Conker Championship in 2004.

We aim to capture all aspects of UK life including the sporting life. If you have a UK sport website that you would like to suggest for the web archive, nominate it here.



21 October 2020

The UK Web Archive and Wimbledon; A Winning Combination

By Robert McNicol, Kenneth Ritchie Wimbledon Library, Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum


Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum Logo


Opened in 1977, the Kenneth Ritchie Wimbledon Library, part of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum, is the most comprehensive collection of tennis publications in the world. We hold books, periodicals, programmes and other publications from more than 90 different countries.

As with everything at Wimbledon, we are always looking for ways to evolve and improve how we do things. That’s why we were delighted to team up with the UK Web Archive to put together a curated collection of tennis websites. The Tennis collection sits within the Sports Collection (Ball Sports Excluding Football) section of the UK Web Archive Sports Collection.

So far, we have added over 70 sites to the Tennis collection but ultimately the aim is to archive all UK-based tennis websites. This includes websites of tennis clubs, governing bodies and media, as well as the websites and social media feeds of individual players. We have already added the Twitter feeds of all world-ranked British players to the collection.

Social media archiving is an area we are particularly interested in and we have been experimenting with using Webrecorder to archive social media feeds to a level not possible on the UK Web Archive. We have recently conducted several trials, using both the manual and auto-pilot functions of Webrecorder to archive the Wimbledon Twitter and Instagram feeds. We have had mixed results from these pilot projects and would be interested in comparing notes with any other organisations that have used Webrecorder to perform social media archiving.

As well as social media feeds, we have been using Webrecorder to archive our own website,, which, as a particularly dynamic website, the UK Web Archive struggles to capture fully. is this year celebrating its 25th anniversary and by archiving it regularly we will be able to save the information contained in it for researchers of future generations. In the same way, we have also been trialling the archiving of our AELTC Intranet site, Wimbledon Insider.

We’ve greatly enjoyed our collaboration with the UK Web Archive so far and are very grateful for the web archiving advice that they have provided. We hope that our tennis expertise has also been of benefit to the UK Web Archive and the British Library. We look forward to working together for many years to come.

If you would like to nominate a tennis website to be archived, please fill in the public nomination form on the UK Web Archive website or get in touch with me at, we’d love to hear from you.

You can watch Robert McNicol’s presentation on the EWA YouTube Channel.