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An Amateur in a Professional Game: Sir Harold Thompson FRS, the FA and English Football


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13:30 - 14:30


The Royal Society, London, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG



Audience members are very welcome to stay on afterwards for a live screening of the opening game of the World Cup, South Africa v Mexico, which kicks off at 3:00pm.

Sir Harold Thompson (1908-1983), as well as being a distinguished physical chemist and Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society, is an important but neglected figure in the history of English football. He is perhaps now best remembered in terms of his association with the failure of the England national team in the 1970s; as the man who played a key role in the sacking of Alf Ramsey as England manager in 1974 and the vetoing of the appointment of public favourite Brian Clough in 1977.

If we delve a little deeper, however, Thompson’s footballing biography is revealing of the changing traditions and priorities of the English game in the post-war years. Based on the personal papers he left to the Royal Society, this talk will examine Harold Thompson’s life in, and influence on, English football and the Football Association. It will discuss his amateur background and his role in the foundation of the combined Oxford and Cambridge Universities side Pegasus FC; his contributions to international football politics and the development of a national coaching infrastructure during the 1970s; and his rise to influence and power at the Football Association, culminating in his chairmanship between 1976 and 1981.

Professor Matthew Taylor and Dr Neil Carter, International Centre for Sport History and Culture, De Montfort University

To reserve your seat at this free event please contact Rupert Baker on 020 7451 2599 or via


An Amateur in a Professional Game: Sir Harold Thompson FRS, the FA and English Football The Royal Society, London 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG UK