The Leicester City Football Club victory celebrations
This is likely to be a large article. For that reason, I am publishing the first draft and will then update it as research results comes in and as I work through various issues. It will be useful to make it available on the Internet to aid dialogue with others, rather than waiting until the whole piece is finished. This article is, therefore, work in progress.
Article published from 18th May 2016
The LCFC victory parade and celebrations of May 2016
Monday 16th May 2016 was the day on which Leicester celebrated Leicester City Football Club’s winning the Premier League Trophy. I was there on Victoria Park watching the post-parade show and now I am writing about this event as a local historian. I have a range of other interests in it as a social movement; I do not have an interest in it as a football fan (which I am not.)
This article considers the significance of the victory celebrations, from both social and historical perspectives and draws in narratives about mass observation and the methodologies of local history. The article will look at the wider context of the event as part of a discussion of its significance.
The victory celebrations were also important as a media event. Some of my work will be to look at how the world’s media covered the event and (to a lesser extent) the world media coverage that Leicester had for the Premier League win as a whole. This forms part of the narrative of local history.
Social movements and migrations
Yesterday (16th May) was not a social movement; neither was it a migration. Having said that there are aspects of the whole event that share characteristics in common with social movements per se and with migration as a movement of people.
It is said in the media that 250,000 people were “on the streets of Leicester” to celebrate the LCFC victory. I would like to work out what proportion of those people were residents with LE postcodes compared with those who came into the city from the county of Leicestershire and from further afield. Slight anecdotal evidence suggests that large numbers of people came into the city by train; some of these might have started at stations in the county but it would be interesting to know what level of traffic came into the city from outside the county. The hypothesis here is day that the day was a national event.#edit
Migration is not the best word to use in this context. Movement of people might be an alternative phrase, if only because the era in which we are living is seeing one of the largest movements of people in the history of the world. This is about migration of millions of people from one country to another. This might not seem relevant to the event in Leicester but it provides a bigger picture about the ability of people to move around, access transport and find out what is happening where and when. Movement of people, travel, transit and attendance is a subject worthy of study.
The route of the event was publicised some days before the parade took place #edit The announcement of the location of the festival on Victoria Park however was given out only a couple of days before the parade. #edit. I use the word ‘festival’ to denote the mass gathering on Victoria Park that took place after the victory parade through the city centre; it was rather like a festival – having a main stage and several music acts.
This section focuses on the mass movement of people in geographical terms.
Both sociologists and historians use mass observation as a method for capturing data about events. I will try to find out if there was an organised mass observation of yesterday’s celebrations. #edit
What surprises me is that I knew that this event would happen right from the word go; although I had enough time to organise around it I did not do anything in advance. I could have brought together a team of people to gather mass observations on the streets during the event. I have organised mass observation projects before, in Leicester, but it did not occur to me to organise such a project for this event.
I will however search for any other projects that treat this event as an opportunity for mass observation.
What would we expect to gain from a mass observation of the victory parade? Quite a lot, actually. Even just me being there at the park, I saw a lot of things that were significant. Things that were unexpected, that meant something to me as an observer of life in Leicester. This article will eventually contain examples from my own observations and from comments scraped from social media.
One of these significant observations was the multi-ethnic composition of the crowd and presence of many women wearing hijabs. I noticed this and so did other commentators on social media.
The other thing I noticed were street vendors. Someone commented to me that he had seen “unemployed people selling merchandise on the streets.” In his view, many of those selling goods were people who had jumped on the bandwagon to make a fast buck. That is significant. I saw organised vendors setting up stalls from around 10:30 in the morning. Many of the shops along London road had put sales points at the front of the building, open to passers by. At last one restaurant and removed all its furnishings to create a space that could be filled with customers. This tells us something about business and commerce. #edit Micro-enterprise I suggest is something that merits study as part of what happens at large gatherings of people.
Was this the largest public event ever to have taken place in Leicester?
Mass public events have taken place before in Leicester. I remember the two One Big Sunday events that were held on Victoria park, which attracted crowds of around 100,000 people.
The history of Leicester contains accounts of demonstrations, open air meetings, pageants and other events that drew large numbers of people. I will look to see how the size of crowds for past events compares to the numbers who attended in victory celebrations. This will set the event in an historical context.
The re-burial of the remains of King Richard III attracted large numbers of people to Leicester. I observed this event. There are other questions that interest me about the Battle of Bosworth, another large event in Leicester that took place 531 years ago.
How many people were involved in the battle of Bosworth in 1485? How many soldiers fought at Bosworth field? How many people saw King Richard III and his retinue depart from the city and how many witnessed the return of the dead King?
This narrative begins to unravel how events are given significance in historical analyses.
How did such a large number of people find out that this event was about to happen, where it would take place and the time table made for it by its organisers. #edit. What conclusions may be drawn about the size of the crowds lining the streets and at Victoria Park?
-for England and Britain
I have portrayed the LCFC victory celebrations as a national event. It lasted for one day – as many other national events have done and it was focused in just one local area but that is not uncommon for events where the people of Britain mark something that is important for them. Was it a national event? Or, what it simply an event of national significance?
The view from the ground
How did it feel to be there? I spent most of my day walking around the Victoria park area, watching the crowds, the media, observing activities, watching the main stage… how did I feel about that? I plan to write a poem about the event. #edit As a writer I have a fairly wide scope of output, both in creative and non-fiction works.
History is mainly about old documents. But how is current history made? How to today’s historians document things that happen during their lifetimes?
Today’s historians have access to a wide range of media: films, photographs, news reports, comments made on social media outlets, newspapers… a must broader range of source material than was available in the past. How do historians go about capturing contemporary material to form part of a documentation of events and other aspects of history?
Social media produces a tidal wave, a tsunami, of content but it quickly evaporates and can be very difficult to recover. If we scrape Facebook and Twitter for comments, photos and observations we can quickly build up a large-scale picture of an event. We do need to do that quickly because the long it is left the more difficult it becomes to capture.
We might want to analyse such material but if we document it carefully it becomes source material for later historians to use; they might develop a new slant that we not apparent to us now.
Documenting social media
The twenty-first century saw the mass usage of social media both in Britain and in the rest of the world. That made a considerable impact on how people viewed events, happenings, processes, systems, a huge variety of observations and analyses of politics, sport, culture, entertainment, workings of the media, and so on. #edit
Marketing, trade, commerce and merchandising
Mention has already been made (above) of the large number of street vendors present at the event and of the shops, restaurants, bars and coffee houses along the route of the parade. This section focuses on the way that the event was used by a variety of commercial interests to cash-in on the celebrations.
Catering for those who enjoy slurping the faces of their sporting heroes, the “Vardyccino” was dreamt up by coffee shop owner Hamza Bodhaniya of Bru Coffee and Gelato in Leicester. Selling at £2.15 for a regular cup and £2.45 for a large, the Vardyccinno has proved popular with punters.The drink is elevated from being a mere cappuccino by chocolate powder dusted on top in the shape of Vardy’s head and upper body. [Source BBC website]
University of Leicester, Mass Observation online
Social media 1 – Twitter