We are delighted to announce that the winner of the 2023 Lord Aberdare Literary Prize is Dr Alexander Jackson for Football's Great War: Associated Football on the English Home Front, 1914 - 1918 (Pen & Sword Books).


In particular, the judging committee were impressed with Dr. Jackson's ability to weave social and political histories together through the medium of popular culture and ephemera. The topic was seen as one of great importance and Dr. Jackson's writing was praised for both its insightfulness and fluidity. This is a strong piece of work which will be a benchmark going forward for those studying not just football, but sport and popular culture more generally.

A link to purchase the book can be found here.

A more thorough summary of the book below. 

As modern football grapples with the implications of a global crisis, this book looks at the first in the game’s history: The First World War. The game’s structure and fabric faced existential challenges as fundamental questions were asked about its place and value in English society. This study explores how conflict reshaped the People’s Game on the English Home Front.

The wartime seasons saw football's entire commercial model challenged and questioned. In 1915, the FA banned the payment of players, reopening a decades-old dispute between the game's early amateur values and its modern links to the world of capital and lucrative entertainment.

Wartime football forced supporters to consider whether the game should continue, and if so, in what form? Using an array of previously unused sources and images, this book explores how players, administrators and fans grappled with these questions as daily life was continually reshaped by the demands of total war. From grassroots to elite football, players to spectators, gambling to charity work, this study examines the social, economic and cultural impact of what became Football's Great War.

We would also like to take the opportunity to congratulate those whose books were shortlisted. This, as the judges attested, was a very strong pool of applicants.

  • Paul Darby, James Esson and Christian Ungruheal. African football migration: Aspirations, experiences and trajectories. Manchester University Press.
  • Ali Donnelly. Scrum Queens: The Story of Women's Rugby. Pitch Publishing.
  • Tom Humberstone. Suzanne: The Jazz Age Goddess of Tennis. Avery Hill.
  • Alex Jackson. Football's Great War: Associated Football on the English Home Front, 1914 - 1918. Pen & Sword Books.
  • Hugh McLeod. Religion and the Rise of Sport in England. Oxford University Press.
  • Souvik Naha. Cricket, Public Culture and the Making of Postcolonial Calcutta. Cambridge University Press.
  • Duncan Stone. Different Class: The Untold Story of English Cricket. Repeater Books.

Congratulations to Dr Jackson, who will deliver the Aberdare keynote at the 2024 BSSH conference this August.