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Edwardian Sports

The birth of Match of the Day? Not exactly, but Mitchell and Kenyon were pioneers in filming sporting events.

Sport was a booming industry in the early 20th Century, and one undergoing great changes. Covered stadiums emerged in place of banks of mud, while audiences - overwhelmingly male - grew to fill them, on the back of increasing leisure time. The presence of film cameras may have helped fuel sport's increasing professionalism.

Over 60 different sporting events feature in the Mitchell and Kenyon collection, mostly football and rugby, but also athletics, cricket, cycling, horse racing and rowing. Highlights include the earliest known footage of Manchester United and the first Merseyside derby on film, plus a cricketing controversy and glimpses of early Rugby League.

Mitchell and Kenyon weren't historians - their interest was to film as much of the crowd as possible, to draw paying customers to later screenings. But thanks to them, we're left with a priceless and evocative record of sport's emergence as the mass entertainment we know today.

Digitisation of this collection was funded by The National Lottery.

"So vivid and impressive are these illustrations that small boys in the audience are roused to enthusiasm and cry out “Now City” as though they were again on the scene of play."

Bradford Daily Argus, 8 September 1903

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Edwardian Sports

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