Playing Past is delighted to be publishing on Open Access – Sport and Leisure on the Eve of World War One, [ISBN 978-1-910029-15-2]  – This eclectic collection of papers has its origins in a symposium hosted by Manchester Metropolitan University’s Sport and Leisure History research team on the Crewe campus between 27 and 28 June 2014. Contributors came from many different backgrounds and included European as well as UK academics with the topics addressed covering leisure as well as sport.


Please cite this article as:

Day, Dave. ‘Our Present Methods and Spirit are Fatal to Success’: Coaching and Training in Britain 1912-1914, In Day, D. (ed), Sport and Leisure on the Eve of World War One (Manchester: MMU Sport and Leisure History, 2016), 157-186.






‘Our Present Methods and Spirit are Fatal to Success’[1]: Coaching and Training in Britain 1912-1914.

Dave Day




Prompted by poor results at Stockholm in 1912, British commentators called for a significant improvement before the proposed Berlin Olympic Games and coaching became a focal point for much of the debate over athletic standards throughout 1913 and 1914. The publication of the British Olympic Council Aims and Objects of the Olympic Games Fund in 1913 signalled a more specialized approach and one that looked towards America for much of its inspiration, although opinions varied on whether or not the American system was compatible with British traditions and the extent to which American methods should be adopted. Like many in Europe, some believed that importing a coach from America was an absolute necessity while others argued that English methods of training were just as comprehensive. Resistance to the use of American-style coaching and coaches was as much about resentment over the loss of international sporting status as it was about fears of relinquishing amateur values in the professionalized, outcome-orientated world that typified American sport but there were signs that British sportsmen were prepared to adapt to the new world order. The reaction of some National Governing Bodies, such as the Amateur Athletic Association, signalled a shift in traditional thinking over the question of coaching and specialization, although the promising advances that had been made by 1914, such as the appointment of an overseas national coach for athletics, failed to survive the outbreak of war.

Keywords: Amateurism; Coaching; America; Stockholm Olympics; Knox.



In 2012, Britain finished third in the Olympic medal table, winning twenty-nine golds, a performance unmatched since 1908, when London first hosted the Games, and a significant turnaround from 1996 when Britain won a single title. This success was partly attributed to the employment of highly skilled coaches, signalling a major shift in attitudes in Britain where coaching had been a substantially under-resourced area of the sporting landscape for over hundred years.[2] Given this neglect, it is not surprising that there is little historiography surrounding the development of British coaching. While the social context of sport and the broader interactions between amateur and professional have been extensively studied, coaches and coaching practices normally occur only as a footnote or an aside, and it is only recently that these histories have been addressed in any detail, most notably by Day and Carpenter.[3] This chapter builds on their research by exploring the state of British coaching in the period between the Stockholm Olympics and the start of the First World War, two years in which some amateur resistance to professional coaches appeared to soften significantly.

Approaches to coaching in late Victorian and Edwardian Britain had been dictated by class and dominated by key amateur principles, such as fair play, abiding by ‘the spirit of the game’, participation, voluntarism, and socializing with peers. Much of the rhetoric related to training and coaching articulated another significant feature of amateurism, contempt for specialization. Amateurs rejected the professional sporting body, crafted through diet and exercise, preferring instead to view sporting performance as the product of natural talent.[4] The English gentleman amateur was a gifted ‘all-rounder’ who played several games well with apparent ease while avoiding intensive training and coaching and he was not keen on adopting new methods, especially if they did not conform to amateur ideals of form and style. This viewpoint was reflected in a 1910 Times editorial that suggested that the usefulness of games would ‘be lessened if they are reduced too much to routine…by excessive coaching’,[5] an attitude that contributed to an increasing failure to compete successfully against other nations, especially America, in events such as the Olympic Games. As was pointed out in July 1912, the open-minded specialist determined to win was bound to beat those whose maxim was that ‘the game’s the thing’, who rarely experimented or innovated or endeavoured to achieve the highest level of excellence, and who continued to employ unscientific methods. The ‘new seat in the saddle, the new swerve in the high jump, the new start in the sprints, the new service at lawn tennis, the hazard into the middle pocket, were all foreign innovations that were resisted initially in England’.[6]

The realities of playing elite sport, however, meant that amateur ideals regarding coaching and training were not always rigorously adhered to and university men, in particular, with their ‘superior opportunities for practice’, always took their sport seriously.[7] Indeed, Frank Lowe, captain of London Rowing Club, argued that university crews, who were able to train much more than metropolitan clubs, were ‘more nearly allied to the professional’.[8] Away from the universities, observers of the Eccles and Kendal rugby union match in September 1913 noted that both teams ‘showed evidence of careful training’,[9] while sculler A.G. McCulloch had reportedly been training regularly in preparation for the 1912 Henley regatta.[10] English amateur scullers like McCulloch often hired professional coaches and what legislators overlooked was that it was not money but the symbolic capital and feelings of personal satisfaction received from winning that persuaded some amateur athletes to seek professional advice.[11] As a result, men such as Spencer Wisdom, trainer to 1908 Olympic sprint champion Reggie Walker, were able to sustain long careers as coaches.[12] The role of these professional coaches became the focus of much of the discussion surrounding elite sporting performance between 1912 and 1914 when the debate over Olympic preparation that followed the Stockholm Games reflected ongoing tensions between amateur idealists resistant to change and their more pragmatic colleagues who wanted British athletes to be more competitive.

International sport and coaching

By the beginning of the twentieth century, Britain’s role as the originator of modern sport was reflected in the widespread acceptance of British regulations and the creation of international organizations and competitions. The sporting arena became a site for establishing cultural as well as physical superiority and British status was increasingly challenged by other nations, especially America, which had become the dominant economic force globally by 1910.[13] National insecurity about Britain’s diminishing influence and concerns about physical decadence were exacerbated in 1912 with the loss of the Titanic, the demise of Scott’s party in Antarctica, and disappointing performances at the Olympic Games.[14] For Sidney Brooks, this Stockholm ‘debacle’ was the culmination of a succession of disasters stretching over many years during which Britain had lost its preeminence in international sport. Britain’s polo players had been beaten by a country in which the game was rarely played while the Belgians had repeatedly won the blue riband of the Henley Ragatta, the eights, which was currently held by an Australian crew. The South Africans and New Zealanders had shown British teams how to play rugby while George Gray had defeated Britain’s finest professional billiard players with ‘ludicrous ease’. The real tennis world champion and the champion prize-fighter were American, while the most famous yachting trophy was held in America. Few British showjumpers could hold their own with foreigners, the lawn tennis championship had again fallen to a New Zealander, while an American had won the amateur, and a Frenchman the professional, golf championships. No Briton held any running, jumping or throwing records, or was ‘indisputedly first’ in swimming, skating and racquets.[15]

Meanwhile, the American sporting reputation was in the ascendency, thanks in part to the colleges, which employed professional coaches and provided well-equipped training facilities. The American system involved employing a highly methodical, coach-centred model emphasizing excellence and winning by adopting industrialized approaches to sport. Away from the college environment, organizations like New York Athletic Club recruited top coaches like Michael Murphy, who trained the 1900, 1908, and 1912 American Olympic teams. Coaching provided career opportunities for men like Murphy in a way that was impossible in a British system that had always been antagonistic to American methods since British commentator believed that their system implied the abandonment of any distinction between amateurs and professionals. Many top American athletes became salaried coaches, professionals who could devote themselves to studying the ‘human racing-machine and its imperfections’, making them much more successful in identifying and developing talent than English coaches,[16] a difference that manifested itself in international competitions like the Olympic Games.

Preparing for Stockholm

British reactions to the 1908 London Olympics had varied from the positive to the pessimistic. Reflecting on these Games in December, the Daily Mirror observed that the Englishman is, ‘slow to realise that he is an inferior, especially in sport, but once he does grasp the fact he generally gets back to the top again sooner or later’. While some argued that Britain had become a race of sporting decadents, it should be remembered that England was the ‘Schoolmaster of the world at games and that other countries are becoming apt and enthusiastic pupils’. The London Games, in which Britain had been ‘an easy first, with 23 victories to 18 by America, and 19 firsts by all the other countries combined’, demonstrated that Britain was still ‘supreme in athletic prowess’.[17] Others recognized, however, that Britons had ‘learnt that in speed and strength we are far behind the Americans’ while the belief that British athletes were ‘endowed with greater powers of endurance’ had also been disproved, their distance runners having been outclassed by Americans and those ‘whose devotion to athletic sports’ was more recent. Nevertheless, there was still a belief that, as the originators of modern sport, its heritage would serve Britain well in future Games,

Business-like methods may sometimes have results which, from our British and possibly insular point of view, have a tendency to spoil the game. After giving all due honour to the magnificent performances of the Americans, we may say that we have contrived to exhibit a very respectable degree of excellence, and so we shall not go far wrong, in the cause of true sport, if we stick to our antiquated methods.[18]

As a result, there was no immediate reassessment of the place of professional coaching in British sport in the aftermath of 1908, perhaps understandably given the period of instability experienced following Edward VIII’s death in May 1910. Widespread industrial unrest included a series of national strikes, there was the civil disobedience of the Suffragette Movement and issues surrounding Irish Home Rule, plus the growing realization that Germany had become a military and economic threat.[19] There were those, however, who were concerned about the lack of progress in preparing for Stockholm and when the BOA issued the programme and regulations for the 1912 Games, they faced criticism for not having already undertaken the identification and training of potential Olympians. The BOA responded that this would not have left enough funds to send competitors to Stockholm,[20] and, as the Observer pointed out, the selection of athletes rested with National Governing Bodies (NGBs), most of which lacked any definitive programme. The large majority had held no meetings and ‘we look like going on sleeping or playing with long pieces of very pretty red tape, tying ourselves in knots’. Meanwhile, Sweden and other countries were employing professional trainers, arranging trials, and identifying suitable athletes for special training. British athletic supremacy had dissipated, not because it did not have the athletes but because of the lack of organization so NGBs must ‘get to work’. To ‘do a thing thoroughly is a virtue, to half do a thing is a sin’.[21]

Little changed, however, and three months later the Manchester Guardian remained pessimistic about British prospects. The Amateur Athletic Association (AAA) was being apathetic over developing any scheme for training arrangements and the raising of funds, leaving it with only about £35 for training expenses. Recent university performances had shown that the country possessed material, which, if adequately trained, could uphold the best traditions of British athletics, but, in the absence of support, there appeared to ‘be in view certain defeat, if not disgrace’.[22]

Concerned that British international failure was the result of a lack of ‘scientific training and coaching’, enthusiasts formed an Athletes’ Advisory Club (AAC) to persuade experienced athletes to act as ‘amateur advisers and coaches to young athletes’.[23] The club was dominated by Oxbridge graduates and remained firmly wedded to amateurism, both before and after the Games, with one committee member expressing the view that ‘a gentleman athlete could only hope to be properly coached by a man who was also a gentleman’.[24] At its formation in 1911, however, the Observer was optimistic about its potential, remarking that the ‘right men’ were on the committee and that it was a step in the right direction.[25]Another pre-Stockholm initiative was a proposal from the Sportsman for a coaching scheme to be led by Walter George. After George was rejected by the AAA, the Sportsman withdrew its offer, so the AAA engaged F.W. Parker, the paid secretary of London Athletic Club, as Chief Athletic Advisor in January 1912.[26]

Parker subsequently accompanied the British team to Stockholm along with four professional trainers for the track and field athletes, led by Cambridge coach Alec Nelson,[27] about whom there were some reservations. While he was ‘an excellent and progressive coach’, it was considered unrealistic to expect him to have the breadth of knowledge of someone like Mike Murphy.[28] As British Olympian Sidney Abrahams pointed out,

It seems to have been thought in many circles there is something magical in the very words ‘coach’ and ‘trainer’ that it was only necessary to appoint one of the very numerous and perfectly competent professional experts…it does not seem to have struck such optimists that a successful coach must be developed like a successful athlete, and even more so, for the born coach in the strictest sense can hardly be said to exist.[29]

Reactions to the Stockholm Games

Stockholm involved participants from all five continents for the first time and an official points system resulted in America heading the table, followed by Sweden who won the javelin, decathlon, and triple jump having engaged Ernest Hjertberg, a native Swede who had been coaching in America for forty years.[30] However, the Games were anything but a success for Britain, who placed third in the medal table, winning only the 1,500 metres and the sprint relay. Debates over elite sports preparation began almost as soon as the Games started and addressed all aspects of the British sporting landscape, although this chapter focuses specifically on the arguments over coaching that occurred between the Stockholm Olympics and the outbreak of World War One, rather than the organizational and funding initiatives that have been more than adequately covered elsewhere.[31]

Reflecting on Stockholm, Sidney Abrahams said, ‘There has been a splendid assumption of British infallibility, and a sudden discovery (after an egregiously crushing defeat) that foreigners do not “play the game” as the Briton understands it’.[32] Amateur athletics coach F.A.M. Webster expressed a ‘feeling of shame that we should fall so low as to be beaten by even the lesser European nations, who for generations past have been our pupils in all sporting pastimes’.[33] A Reuter’s special correspondent in the Daily Mail reported that the British athletes had not taken their work seriously. While Americans had to get permission from their trainer to go ashore from their lodgings on the liner Finland, some British competitors could be seen lounging in the cafes until late in the evening. The administrators supposedly in charge of the team had admitted that there had been a complete ‘absence of discipline and science’.[34] W. Beach Thomas observed that British athletes were so outclassed that they were unable to win their heats and that their failures were due to bad training, poor organization, and a lack of spirit. Men chosen to represent their nation should at least attempt to win and it was a poor advertisement for a nation to send to the Games a group of athletes unprepared to do the nation honour. Every Englishman and most foreigners present felt that ‘England lost repute, in character more than in athletic capacity’.[35] According to H.R. Thompson, the British public failed to realize ‘the importance of our maintaining our position and prestige in the athletic world’ but if Britain would only take the Games seriously and organize itself to encourage its athletes the nation could ‘secure the maximum honours in Berlin’.[36]

Some aficionados of amateurism refused to accept that British performances were of any real cause for concern and an anti-coaching rhetoric was evident in the continuing criticism of the coaching and training practices of other countries who had clearly misunderstood the traditions and heritage of British sports. This was particularly true of the Americans whose system of specialization was condemned as a ‘reducto ad absurdum‘ of the meaning of sport.[37] One writer argued that comparing Britain to America and Sweden was inappropriate since they were ‘notoriously specialists in sports of all kinds, one might almost call them professionals among the nations’ and that, based on the results, accusations of ‘decadence’ could equally be applied to Germany and France.[38] Another said that leading Englishmen regarded the Olympic Games as ‘parlour tricks in a provincial drawing room’. The fact that the Games were taken so seriously by other nations was irrelevant since when ‘we find a nation that takes success at games as a test of greatness we put them down as an inferior people, especially when the ideal is, as it certainly is in America, to win at any cost’. Almost all games and sports had become infected with professionalism and if commercialism was to be the keynote of sport then ‘no clean English gentleman will have anything to do with it’.[39] For another commentator, nobody should be taking lessons in sportsmanship from Americans, who took their sport too seriously and who had not learned, as Henry Newbolt put it, ‘To set the Cause above renown, To love the game beyond the prize’.[40]

Another observed that Britons had been accused in the past of ‘sacrificing too much to sport but now we are beginning to realise that we have sacrificed in vain’ and it was humiliating when the Englishman was condemned not only for playing too much, but for playing badly. Foreign competitors had a stronger desire to win, more ‘scientific habits’ and a readiness to submit to discipline, backed by a national pride that provided organization and finance. Unlike the Americans, British athletes wanted to win but not enough to submit to all the necessary trouble, expenditure and training. The failure to maintain the nation’s sporting supremacy pointed to a certain ‘slackness of temperament’ but not to be over-anxious to win was not a fault and Britain should continue to focus on participation rather than performance.[41] The Englishmen knew how to behave in sport and there was no need to adopt the methods of those who treated sport as a commercial matter and ran it as a business just to win. Englishmen, ‘who taught modern Europe athletics, will also teach it manners’.[42] It was argued in the Scotsman that if Britain devoted the same time and money to selecting and coaching athletes as that ‘lavishly squandered’ by the Americans then it would prove a match for anyone but the honourable amateurism of British schools and universities was preferable to their veiled professionalism. British athletics administrators should consider seriously whether to fall into line with other countries like America, which made sure their men were ‘trained to win’, or else retire from the contest altogether.[43] This theme of withdrawal appeared regularly. Sidney Brooks suggested that it would be better to stay aloof from the Olympics than to enter them untrained and unorganized, trusting to luck and hoping to muddle through. If it was impossible to induce our athletes to train properly, or if there were insufficient funds, then it would be better to withdraw from ‘a contest in which our present methods and spirit are fatal to success’,[44] a viewpoint wholeheartedly supported in Blackwood’s a month later.[45]

For Americans the focal point of the Olympics was always track and field athletics leading Beach Thomas to argue that the inclusion of athletics at the Games did more harm than good because the Americans specialized to ‘so extreme a pitch’.[46] Previewing Stockholm in Harper’s Weekly, Edward Bayard Moss recalled that, despite their increasing global popularity, American representatives had always emerged victorious at the Games, even when competing on the home ground of their strongest athletic opponents in 1908. He was optimistic about Stockholm because American athletes and their coaching system had constantly progressed since London.[47] This optimism was justified by the track and field results at the Games, when America scored 85 points, Finland 27 and Sweden 24 while Britain achieved only 14 points. Moss highlighted that England had performed poorly and that, because the English athletic authorities and their athletes did not take their sports seriously enough, the nation’s representatives were, therefore, badly handicapped in the Olympics, where events were decided by fractions of seconds and inches. British complacency had received a ‘rude jolt’ but it had been awoken to the benefits of American training methods and was preparing to go to Berlin with a team ‘that shall surpass the records of the past’.[48] However, not all American commentators were as positive about British athletic potential as the patronising title of one New York Times article indicated. ‘Poor old England’ reflected American jubilation about their Stockholm successes and their dominance over England. Englishmen were no longer ‘masters of the playground’ and the ‘saying Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton was once a boast and is now a bitter prophecy’.[49] The Sun concluded on July 12 that the ‘humiliation of England is deserved and irretrievable’.[50]

The road to Berlin

While those determined to hold onto traditional amateur British approaches to sport argued against change, for many others failure at Stockholm was regarded as a ‘tale of national disaster’[51] and it was time to review British sporting structures before Berlin. A meeting convened by the AAC at the Manchester Hotel on August 1 to develop a ‘scheme to restore British prestige’ was attended by Lord Desborough and many well-known athletic officials. Amongst the aspirational and generally agreed proposals were the recruitment of a rich philanthropist who would take up the Games as a hobby, the cultivation of an Olympic spirit amongst competitors, more inter-club athletic meetings, the creation of gymnasia with covered running tracks, and the development of promising athletes from all social classes.[52] Matthew Llewellyn has interpreted this as a ‘discernible push towards democratisation’[53] and, whether or not this was actually the case, it certainly marked recognition of the heterogeneous composition of the successful American team.[54]

Other proposals emanating from the AAC meeting included the formation of a British Empire team and a demand that the Government should give a substantial grant towards the expenses of the Olympic team. The proposal for an Empire team reflected a widespread belief that if Britain followed the American system of ‘sweeping her possessions from sea to sea in search of winners, irrespective of colleges, universities, races and colours, and accepted everybody worth having, rich or poor, educated or illiterate’, it might be able to compete effectively with the United States.[55] Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Lord Desborough[56] supported the proposal, as did the Guardian, which pointed out that Empire victories in Stockholm had been celebrated by raising the British flag,[57] but the idea was eventually abandoned. As for government involvement, this had been a constant source of frustration for many elite sportsmen who were aware that the German government had subsidised its Olympic squad in 1908 and 1912,[58] and that the Swedish authorities had prepared for Stockholm with about £40,000, one half of which was contributed by the government. Even Hungary had supported its team with £2,500 out of government funds.[59] Efforts were made to follow up the suggestion from the AAC meeting but they failed to achieve anything. The AAA discussed the desirability of sending a letter to every Member of Parliament (MP) regarding state support in late 1913[60] but the suggestion was dropped after BOA member and Conservative MP, William Hayes Fisher, advised against it.[61] When Theodore Cook lobbied the Foreign Office for financial assistance in 1914 on behalf of the BOA, he was met with the observation that this was not their concern.[62]

Funding initiatives

The two inter-connected proposals emanating from the AAC meeting that caused the most debate were the election of a committee to raise an Olympic fund and the proposal that that a head trainer (imported or otherwise) should be appointed on a large salary, supported by salaried assistants at district level. Opinions varied as to how much money was necessary to prepare properly for Berlin. Lord Desborough proposed £5,000 a year for three years, with £10,000 for the fourth year, de Courcy Laffan thought at least £30,000 for athletics alone, while Sir Arthur Conan Doyle intended to appeal for £25,000.[63] Ultimately, the responsibility for fundraising was assumed by the British Olympic Council (BOC), which published its Aims and Objects of the Olympic Games Fund in 1913, in which it compared Britain with other countries, particularly America. The report fully supported reform in British sport and provided for the creation of a Special Committee to oversee an Olympic appeal. The BOC considered it ‘essential that so far as professional advice and material appliances go, our representatives should be on equal terms with their competitors’ and so NGBs were asked to prepare schemes for ‘the systematic preparation and training’ of their available talent.[64] Proposals were received from some leading governing bodies, including the National Cyclists’ Union (NCU) and the Amateur Gymnastics Association, as well as the Amateur Field Events Association (AFEA),[65] although other NGBs, such as the Amateur Rowing Association (ARA) and the Hockey Association (HA), declined to participate. In October 1913, a preview of the HA Council response to the BOA initiative anticipated that the Association would prefer to pay their own expenses to Berlin. This would be a ‘dignified’ position, because it was felt by many true amateur sportsmen that every NGB should be responsible for paying its own expenses.[66]

In order to fund their plans, the committee launched an appeal for £100,000 (over £8 million in current values),[67] considerably more than that being targeted by other nations, leading Sullivan of the American Olympic Committee to call it ‘flagrant professionalism’.[68] In response, The Times pointed out that Germany would be spending much more and that the United States had spent ‘between £30,000 and £40,000 just on taking its men to Stockholm’.[69] Other newspapers reinforced this argument by highlighting the ‘astonishing preparations’ taking place elsewhere in Europe where state sponsored programmes of coaching and training were being given a high priority.[70] Frederic Harrison, however, argued that the appeal ‘stinks of gate-money and professional pot-hunting’[71] and Nowell Smith observed that, ‘These modern pseudo-Olympic Games are “rot” and the newspaper advertisement of them and the £100,000 fund for buying victories in them is positively degrading’.[72] The Manchester Guardian believed that the money raised would be spent on producing ‘overtrained physical wrecks’,[73] while the Liverpool Daily Post supported those who condemned efforts to ‘compete with America in the manufacture of professional athletes’.[74] Not surprisingly, athletic coach F.A.M. Webster countered by arguing that the entire £100,000 was desperately needed to raise the standard of British sport,[75] but the public response ‘underlined the nation’s apathy’ and the appeal was closed in January 1914, having achieved only £11,000 of its initial target of £25,000.[76] This left £5,393 for the committee to spend, of which £3,850 was allocated for training purposes, £3,000 to the AAA, £600 to the ASA, and £250 to the NCU.[77]

Coaches and training

These three organizations were among those NGBs that supported a move towards athletic specialization, and approved of appointing professional trainers, establishing regional training facilities, increasing the availability of modern athletic equipment, and introducing regional events to discover new talent. When these issues were discussed at the AAC meeting Lord Desborough had argued that if Britain was going to compete at Berlin, then the Games must be taken as seriously as they were being taken by the Swedes who had five professional trainers.[78] Studd agreed, noting that, since the Olympics had become a contest between ‘federated or organized and trained bands of athletes’, Britain must adopt foreign methods.[79] Reflection on coaching issues went beyond the AAC and engendered a critical, and sometimes acrimonious, public debate. Immediately after the Games, The Times argued,

Our representation at Stockholm was deplorable, not because we do not possess abundance of first-class material, but because the arrangements made for our share in the Games, the training and the preparation for our athletes, and the care taken of them at Stockholm were almost pathetically farcical.[80]

Because British athletes were not ‘versed in all the technique of the track and the science of winning races, it was unfair to our men and unfair to our national interests’.[81] A week later, the paper was making the point that Britain had ‘as good material’ as any other country but that it needed to be ‘properly trained and coached’.[82] An Athletic News correspondent said of the Games that, ‘Everything was left to chance, athletes left to their own sweet will’. Unfortunately, the attitude of the AAA was unlikely to influence many, if any, of the ‘old runners to aid their cause’ by volunteering to help in the coaching of promising athletes, especially as, in the North, trainers had been asked to ‘look after likely lads’ but this had left them out of pocket because they had not been remunerated. In addition, while the AAA had promised to pay for board and travel for coaches to attend the Games this had not materialised.[83] The Sporting Life observed that, ‘our methods of training for track and field events are not suitable to present-day requirements’ and reported comments from de Courcy Laffan to the effect that Britain needed to adopt the methods developed by those countries who had taken a ‘scientific’ approach. Britain must engage a head trainer who was ‘thoroughly conversant with the most up-to-date modern methods of training’.[84] The publication subsequently identified ‘methodical training’ as the principle reason for Finland’s success and argued again for ‘proper supervision’ in Britain.[85]

Although there was general agreement that coaching was necessary, there was no consensus on where this coaching should come from. For A.B. George, a founder of the AAC, the answer lay in amateur coaches. If young athletes at Eton, Harrow, Marlborough, and Rugby, were coached as carefully in athletics as they were at cricket and rowing then Britain would see the ‘finished article’ at the universities and there would be more real champions. While engaging coaches at the public schools permanently would cost a lot of money, much could be accomplished by honorary coaches, as in rowing.[86] One Times correspondent countered that, while some believed that giving professional coaching to an amateur turned him into a professional, everyone outside the ‘charmed circle of the public school’ should have similar opportunities.[87]

At the AAC post-Stockholm meeting tensions over coaching were exacerbated by the proposal that a head trainer should be recruited from the United States with some attendees arguing that English training methods were just as comprehensive and that, ‘provided men were willing to submit to them’, they would achieve similar success to that of the Americans.[88] This reflected Sam Mussabini’s view that the Olympics were an opportunity for the re-emergence of British coaches and their methods. He believed that American coaches had copied ‘the teachings of the old school of England’ and that British coaches were ‘unsurpassed’.[89] This was not the general European view and Continental coaching programmes adhered much more closely to the American model than that of the British. Neither Coubertin nor the IOC disapproved of the intensive preparation of athletes and France brought Olympians together in long-term central training camps under coach George Hébert[90] at Reims, where the Marquess de Polignac had created a College d’Athlètes.[91] By September 1912, Sweden had already engaged a trainer for Berlin[92] and many countries were keen to engage an American professional coach. Austria employed American coach Alexander Copland,[93] and the German Olympic Committee appointed four-time Olympic gold medallist, Alvin Kraenzlein, the University of Michigan coach, as national athletics coach.[94]

Americanization and specialization

Immediately following the track and field events at Stockholm, P.J. Moss observed in the Daily Mirror that British athletes had been unable to compete with the Americans and he compared it to putting ‘an army of untrained men armed with pikes into the field with a well-drilled force with every modern scientific implement’.[95] At the same time, the Daily Mail proposed that if Britain wished to go to Berlin with any prospect of doing herself credit she must send her best trainer to America for a year to learn his craft.[96] The USA took a ‘business-like’ and scientific approach to elite sport in which they identified and employed the most efficient specialized methods for achieving Olympic success.[97] Canvassing American opinion on the reasons for their success the Scotsman identified organization, science, discipline. The Americans had set about winning medals in the same thorough, painstaking, business-like way that they applied to the formation of a big corporation and, although this involved considerable finance, there were plenty of men in America willing to support the programme. Whether such an organization was worthwhile in England was a matter of opinion but the Americans had shown the world that it must specialize more than ever to achieve international success. Even those Europeans who professed to specialize were regarded in America as dilettante in comparison with the rigour of American methods.[98] Any programme of athletic improvement in Britian needed to reconize that American victories were not merely due to the specialized approaches taken by their Olympic coaches but to the general level of excellence which the athlete had attained at school, university, and in the athletic club before he was selected for the national team.[99] Not surprisingly, then, when British Olympic administrators began to consider reforming the traditional British system they benchmarked to the successes of the American methods.[100]

This approach did not appeal to everyone and much of the argument against professional coaching was directed against suggestions that British sportsmen would benefit from importing American methods. In some respects, this debate still resonates in the twenty-first century. Although national sport administrators have increasingly looked abroad to find suitable coaches, their appointment has often been criticised by coaches, athletes, officials and enthusiasts in both the receiving and the lending countries as a ‘breach of patriotic duty’. Expatriate coaching has been condemned by those who contend that it is treasonous, disloyal and harmful to the coaches’ native countries. These detractors also argue that foreign coaches do not represent the national sporting cultures of their adopted countries, with the concomitant outcome that the public does not identify with them and that engaging these individuals ‘violates an apparently unwritten principle of international sport mandating that national teams be led by compatriots’.[101]

This perspective was demonstrated clearly in 1913 in responses to a Daily Mail article reporting that the Americans and the Swedes had a dozen or more men who could beat the best British pole jumper by an ‘outrageous margin’ while university hammer throwers had improved by no less than thirty feet after a little instruction from the Americans. With the right training and coaching, similar improvements could be achieved in other events,[102] implying that American coaches might be the answer to some of the deficiencies in British athletics. This drew a vitriolic response from ‘Outspoken’ in the Daily Express whose comments encapsulated the widespread antagonism to the notion of engaging an American coach. The author found it hard to believe reports that an American college trainer was to be paid £2,000 to be in charge of British amateur athletes and that England, the home of athletics, was to take the ‘degrading step’ of going abroad for the trainer of her 1916 Olympic team. This was, ‘an insult to our own good men; a craven acknowledgement of weak-kneed legislators; a menace to our chances of again rising to our proper place; and a playing into the hands of our keenest (and…not too scrupulous) opponents’. The author pointed out that the dominant late-nineteenth century English champions had been ‘home-trained in the old-fashioned school of running’, which was now followed by American trainers, and many of them would be only too willing to help prepare Olympians if they were asked. Because they had been excluded by the AAA for some years, most of these ‘old-time professional masters of the art of training’ had disappeared but Sam Wisdom, ‘Cabbage’ Perry, and Harry Ransom were still proving their worth as athletics coaches while many others had moved into football. Sadly, although these men were all experts in the ‘trainer’s art’, the AAA was unlikely to engage them, even though most would be willing to work for out-of-pocket expenses and depend on results for their remuneration. Bonuses should be paid to those who unearthed champions and international athletes in order to concentrate the wisdom of the old and new school of trainers, amateurs and professionals alike. These men should be supervised by chief coaches, Charles Rammage, the winner of two Sheffield handicaps and a ‘scientist in everything relating to sprinting’, W.G. George or Harry Watkins for track or cross-country running, and Perry for the marathon. Their combined fees would amount to about half of the £2,000 suggested for the college trainer and they could form a professional advisory committee, supported by sectional trainers selected by a committee of practitioners rather than the ‘amenable but innocent-members of the AAA and BOC’. The author concluded that if,

Varsity people want an American trainer so very badly, they are rich enough to have one on their own account. Let them try him by all means – and note results if they come up against the English-trained men, if the right trainers – as is so seldom the case in this unfortunate country – get the job. [103]

The writer was not alone in his views and many amateur sportsmen resisted the ‘outcry for the importation of American coaches and trainers for the purpose of teaching us what we had originally taught them’.[104] Another critic foresaw ‘an army of professional coaches’ over-running the country although supporters of these proposals believed that this ‘army of coaches does not and never will exist’.[105] Philip Noel-Baker, President of Cambridge University Athletic Club, pointed out that the American athlete was backed by an organization, managed by paid organizers and financially supported, which he regarded as suspect since money turned sport into a commercial enterprise. American athletes specialized in one or two events and they not only devoted most of their time to training before important races but also employed professional coaches. This resulted in descriptions of American participants as ‘acrobatic freaks’.[106] One writer warned that

Americans are obsessed with pot-hunting. Runners are set upon by paid coaches so that while they were still plastic they could learn the machine-like characteristic of American champions and of those of no other country. They become semi-professionals who cheat just as they did in Stockholm.

American athletics keep the athlete from being a good all-round man and he has all the defects of a premature specialist.[107]

For the Morning Post, Britons were generally not ‘training specialists’[108] while Baily’s Magazine, having observed that, ‘a certain amount of specialism is necessary for success,’ went on to say that ‘excessive specialism is only likely to become the bane of what is now that fine sporting athleticism’.[109] Rudolph Lehman, a prominent amateur rowing coach, was concerned that, ‘If the methods of others nations, most notably the United States and Finland, are to be copied, professionals are to be employed, specialisation will be rife, and sport will become a profession’.[110] As a result, ‘sport would be ruined’. Achieving success by such means would require making ‘professional slaves’ of the men who took part and Britain would be much better off with ‘the old idea of games for games’ sake’. An ‘American Educator’ replied that attempts to improve British performances would prove futile unless there was a nationwide commitment to competition and training.[111] A correspondent to the Daily Mirror argued that Englishmen did not want to see their sport professionalized and run by ‘specialised trainers in order to gain prizes at international games’. The true sporting spirit was diffused throughout English life and sport was part of the ‘English gentleman’s concern’. It was not, and never should be, in Britain the concern of an ‘organised horde of gladiators’.[112] J.E.K. Studd reassured the public that Britain would not follow America’s lead in creating a ‘team of ”gladiators”’,[113] while the BOC emphasized that, ‘The most brilliant material successes can never compensate for any abandonment of our tradition in these matters, for there is a duty higher than any winning of gold medals’.[114]

The athletes themselves had a different perspective. Writing in the Washington Post, British medallist William Applegarth, pointed out that the English athlete needed specialized training and was happy, ‘to get all the skilled advice and professional care he can’.[115] American athlete, Edward Bushnell, countered British criticism that because American athletes were coached that they were ‘less amateur’ than British ones as well as the disparaging use of terms such as ‘specialization’ and ‘track tactics’. Using the example of Michael Murphy, he encouraged British athletes to undergo ‘scientific coaching’, comparing its effects to that of F.W. Taylor’s scientific management.[116] A year later, another American, responded to the fears expressed by ‘Criticaster’ that, ‘there will be let loose a horde of American or Americanised trainers who, with their purely empiric craft, based up a smattering of physiology and a vast self-assurance, will march onward through many failures to some rare success’. Since eighteen out of twenty-three victories had gone to America in Stockholm, whatever system was responsible for this must be a good one and the writer argued that there was nothing wrong with empiricism, Americans were entirely conversant with physiology, and having self-assurance was no bad thing.[117]

The AAA proposals

Irrespective of what position one took over the issue of American trainers and methods there was a general acceptance of the need for some degree of specialization in British sport. The BOC report on Stockholm noted that, ‘though natural talent, unassisted, may sometimes serve us…it has become more necessary to pay far more attention than has been hitherto our custom to the minutiae of training in running and more especially to field events’.[118] The subsequent publication of Aims and Objects reinforced this perspective by proposing training centres in the big cities and nationwide competitions to discover new talent, which would subsequently be provided with ‘expert coaching’.[119] By this stage, the AAA had already taken action by establishing its own subcommittee in October 1912 to draw up ‘a scheme of preparation’ for Berlin. Their initial recommendations were for the inclusion of all Olympic field events at the AAA championships, although suggestions for Olympic trials in 1915, the payment of bonuses to trainers who produced athletes to certain standards, and the employment of a national athletes’ adviser were held over.[120] A year later, the Stockholm reports from F.W. Parker and Alec Nelson were discussed at length and it was decided to authorize the Hon. Treasurer to send a cheque for £5 to W.J. Parrish, one of the volunteer trainers in Stockholm, as an appreciation of his services. The question of the preparation of a scheme for the training of competitors for Berlin in 1916 was then considered,[121] although there had already been discussions concerning a nationwide network of training sites where official trainers could be situated.[122]

A national coach

Plans for trainers and training were consolidated at the AAA’s Olympic Committee meeting in November 1913 when the meeting considered the appointment of a chief trainer and assistant trainers along with lists of trainers in each District, hours of duty, where to be stationed, and remuneration. With regard to the chief trainer, several applications had been considered and Walter Renwick Knox was the preferred candidate so the Honorary Secretary was asked to try to arrange an interview and obtain his terms for engagement. With regard to assistant trainers, the North suggested eight trainers based at Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Newcastle, West Riding of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, Stoke, or Crewe, Cumberland and Westmoreland. The Midlands proposed four trainers at Derby, Birmingham, Northampton and Leicester, while the South suggested up to ten men based at London, possibly Stamford Bridge, Tufnall Park, Herne Hill, and Manor Park, Sussex (Brighton), Suffolk (Ipswich), Somerset (Bristol), Hampshire (Southampton), Devonshire (Plymouth or Exeter), Wales (Cardiff or Newport), and Berkshire (Maidenhead or Reading). On the question of remuneration it was proposed that each trainer should be engaged for twenty weeks at £2 per week, the North requiring £360, £40 being for travelling expenses, the Midlands £180, £20 being for travelling expenses, and the South £460. The hours of duty would be 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and such other times as necessary. The sum of £2,000 had been estimated as the total required for training while the question of bonuses for trainers was held over.[123] These had been the subject of discussion since a suggestion that there should be a bonus given to trainers who produced athletes at certain standards, with a further bonus awarded if the athlete achieved international selection.[124]

When the committee met again in February 1914 a letter was read from the Special Committee raising funds for the Olympics, confirming the allocation of £3,000 for training purposes.[125] By this point, the AAA was already committed to what, for the time, was a revolutionary training initiative, the organization having appointed their first full time national coach in W.R. Knox, Canadian coach at the 1912 Games, and a Scottish-Canadian professional Highland Games all-rounder who specialized in field events. This presumably represented something of an acceptable compromise for AAA committee members since he was familiar with American methods but had a strong Empire and British heritage. Knox had been prominent in Canadian and American athletics for sixteen years achieving a host of good performances in a range of events including, running broad jump, 23ft 8½in., putting the 16lb shot, 46ft 5in., throwing the discus, 122ft, standing high jump, 5ft, and hop, step and jump, 47ft 4½in. In 1913, he achieved a new Scottish ‘record’ of 11ft 6in. in the pole vault at Inverness and on June 25, 1913, he won the All-round Professional Championship of America.[126] Knox was given a three-year contract at an annual salary of £400, the same as a Member of Parliament, plus travelling expenses worth £150,[127] on condition that he withdrew from all professional competitions and did not to engage in any other business during the term of the agreement. Nine supplementary trainers, four allocated jointly to Scotland and Ireland, two in the north of England, two in the south, and one in the Midlands, were also to be employed to work under Knox for twenty-six weeks of the year over two years at a salary of £3 per week, making an estimated annual cost of £700.[128] It was agreed that Knox should be consulted with reference to the appointments before any approaches were made.[129] At a meeting of the Olympic Games Northern Sub-Committee, held in Manchester in May, T.W. Jones of London was appointed as Olympic Games coach for Lancashire, Cheshire and North Staffordshire and it was suggested that he be stationed in Manchester. It was also arranged that A.E. Clayton of Huddersfield should take charge of Yorkshire and the North-Eastern Counties.[130] Clayton was 45 and had won professional handicaps at Burnley and Oldham as well as being a successful trainer of track runners.[131] The coaches were instructed to start immediately and they were required to work directly under the personal supervision of Knox, who had been in the North during that week.[132]

These initiatives were generally well received and the Manchester Evening News was optimistic that the ‘scientific coaching of our athletes’ before Berlin would help ‘remove the stigma attendant on the debacle at Stockholm in 1912’. The appointment of Knox was to be highly commended and, since he could not efficiently supervise the training of all the promising or already prominent athletes in Britain, it was appropriate that assistant coaches had been engaged to work under him. They would be stationed in different parts of the country so that every training ground and, therefore, practically every athlete in training, would be provided for. Their duty would be to keep strict watch on the athletes with a view to unearthing a champion in the making, and to tender advice to all and sundry. Knox himself would move around these training centres and receive the reports of the men coming under each particular coach. In the event of a promising athlete being discovered special training facilities would be provided for him and cases of exceptional ability would come directly under the wing of the chief coach. To some, this scheme might appear a ‘huge fuss of questionable value’ but few would fail to recognize the importance of regaining and maintaining Britain’s athletic prestige. Athletic clubs should welcome these trainers and club members should seek their advice.[133]

Knox was already operating as the national coach by May 1913. Aberdeen had been selected as one of the Scottish training centres and Knox, who was touring the selected centres to oversee the initial arrangements, was in Aberdeen on May 19. During the afternoon, he was at the University grounds, King’s College, taking the opportunity to asses some of the student athletes. He outlined the overall scheme and his plans for development in an interview with the Aberdeen Daily Journal. Six training centres had been established in Scotland, at Glasgow, Greenock, Paisley, Berwick, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Except in the case of Glasgow, where there would be two coaches, a coach had taken up duty at each centre, and their function would be to tune up Olympic aspirants strictly in accordance with the guidelines laid down by Knox. The Canadian had entered wholeheartedly into the work and he had every confidence in the ultimate success of the methods of training to be followed. In each centre, the work of finding likely men will be carried out by a member of the Scottish Amateur Athletic Association nominated by the Olympic Council and, as regards training, the local coaches would take their instructions from Knox. As the only Olympic centre north of Edinburgh, Aberdeen would be the training centre for an extensive area, and would therefore be one of the most important centres. The Olympic Council at Aberdeen would be represented by Dr W.F. Croll and the trainer appointed was Peter Simpson, the trainer of the Aberdeen Football Club. His services would be available in the evenings to all bone-fide amateurs of all ages, who would be trained in the evenings strictly in accordance with the methods prescribed by Knox.

Knox said he was well satisfied with the quality of British athletes he had so far encountered and he was sure that Britain would take a leading place in the 1916 Games. ‘I am as much concerned about the 1920 Olympic Games as I am about those of 1916’, he said, ‘and the appointment of coaches at the training centres is intended as much to foster athletics for future games as those of 1916. By 1920, the results of the system and methods now inaugurated should assert themselves. We do not expect to pick up champions in a day’. Knox went on to say that, ‘the methods that will be imparted by the coaches and the opportunities afforded at the centres should provide a medium for the outlet of ability after a short period of years’. He was described as a ‘thorough stylist’ and he aimed to standardize British styles in athletics as far as Olympic events were concerned. The question of style, he believed, was the most difficult he had to tackle, particularly that adopted in starting races. He was fighting for a uniform kneeling start, which he was convinced was the best for sprints, and he was endeavouring to standardize the methods of putting and throwing. Attired in athletic garb, Knox had given a demonstration to university athletes and he planned to return to Aberdeen in July when it was likely that one of the many Olympic trials to be decided at the various centres would take place.[134]

In late May, the Manchester Athletic Club held their first Olympic trials to discover and encourage the efficient training of novice talent in preparation for Berlin. The first three in each event were granted free training facilities at their ground at Fallowfield. In addition to the novices’ events, there were several exhibitions, given by the English amateur champion high jumper, B. Howard Baker and W. Morris, the Public Schools’ long jump champion. In addition, H. Meguerian, the Greek Olympic representative in discus and javelin, then resident in Manchester, gave a demonstration, and there was a half-mile exhibition race in the form of short limit handicap, in which four champions or ex-champions took part. Knox, the ‘world’s all-round athletic champion’ and the recently appointed Olympic coach, also appeared.[135] He gave demonstrations of throwing the hammer (his best throw being 112 feet), pole-vaulting (clearing 11ft 6in.) and putting the weight.[136]

In July 1914, the AAA drafted a letter to the BOA stating that, in its opinion, the arrangements made for training up to that point in time had been satisfactory, although there were two major difficulties that needed to be overcome. The chief coach had reported that many club trainers were little more than ‘rubbers down’ and they took delight in telling athletes something entirely different to what they were being taught by Knox and his assistants. This practice ‘must be entirely stopped in the future’ and there was little doubt there were too many of these so-called ‘trainers’. Another difficulty was that of providing field event contests. Knox was emphatic that the material was there but opportunities needed to be provided for competition. He had been very satisfied with the results attained so far and was confident that, if these matters could be resolved, considerable and permanent improvement would be shown in both track and field athletics. The author enclosed an audited balance sheet, showing how the £500 already received from the Berlin Committee had been used and suggested that ‘should any balance be available it should be expended in the forwarding of Field athletics’. In addition, the arrangements made by the Special Committee had not provided anything for the travelling expenses of assistant trainers and it was essential that this was available in certain centres.[137]

The aftermath

Amateurism implied that winning needed to be kept in perspective but the coaching debates of 1912 and 1913 suggests that more attention needs to be paid to the fluid nature of amateurism in this period because this philosophy was always interpreted differently according to social class or local, regional and national traditions. Most countries were less class based and much more flexible about how amateur values should be interpreted than Britain and the way in which they organized their sports reflected a commitment to success as a proof of national identity. In America, amateurism was rapidly modified in a society that rejected class theories based on hereditable attributes and the result was a highly systematic coach-centred model, emphasizing excellence and winning, which brought rapid success in the international arena. The elite British sportsman was therefore faced with a difficult dilemma if he wanted to be competitive in international events and, despite the amateur rhetoric, training and coaching was common practice in amateur sport, even if it remained somewhat marginalized. However, while it was increasingly accepted, albeit grudgingly, that Olympic success increasingly required a commitment to coaching and training, as evidenced by the formal appointment of trainers to the British team in 1912, amateur unease with this approach was reflected in the master-servant relationship imposed on these men in contrast to the coach-centred system adopted in America. Actually, it seems that for some critics it was not the notion of training and coaching that was the issue but the idea of engaging too closely with American methods, which had long been undermining the amateur values inherent to British sport. This reluctance to grant a controlling role to professional coaches was connected not only to the amateur ideology but also to a broader nationalism, especially when it became clear that the American paradigm was being adopted elsewhere in Europe.[138] There were signs in the period between July 1912 and November 1914, however, that the amateur hegemony could become more pliable when placed under pressure and that the poor performances in Stockholm generated a willingness to consider more pragmatic approaches to coaching. Llewellyn considers that plans for ‘athletic specialisation represented a dramatic shift in British sporting culture’[139] but any potential legacy was short-lived and, thanks to the outbreak of the First World War and the subsequent cancellation of the Berlin Games, Knox did not hold the position of national coach for any significant length of time. In the end, the war, coupled with the general indifference of the majority of the British public, meant that the practical suggestions and promising advances, which had been put in place by individuals involved with the BOA and the AAA, failed to be developed further after 1918.[140] Their tentative moves towards putting British elite sport on a more systematic footing never really progressed beyond the planning stage as debates over coaching subsided and amateur administrators, who felt that Britain had little to learn from foreigners and continued to believe in the natural superiority of the British sportsman, reverted to type. There are a number of possible reasons for this and they relate to those who were in positions of power in British sport prior to the war together with a desire to return to ‘normal’ after it was over. The amateur ethos retained a powerful influence within this ‘normality’ and altering years of tradition would have required a significant change in mind set, something that the progressive voices had been unable to achieve totally between 1912 and 1914. Many of these pre-War progressives were Oxbridge graduates and students who had enlisted in the Officer Training Corps and there is evidence to suggest that their mortality rate during the war was significantly higher than other social groupings, resulting in the loss of many of these sporting visionaries.[141] As a result, British sport returned to its previous level of improvised and impromptu organization once the conflict was over. There is also a hint within the post-Stockholm coaching debate, and indeed in the discourse before the Games, that there had been something of an ‘us’ and ‘them’ confrontation between public-school educated university men and amateurs from other sections of society who were inclined to take different attitudes to their sport. It seems possible, therefore, that the coaching argument subsided somewhat after the war because it was recognized that this privileged class had proved their worth through their sacrifices. Mike Huggins and Jack Williams have also highlighted a degree of ‘conservatism in sport’. Their experiences of war caused many to view the pre-war era as a time of security and reason and this may explain a nostalgic desire to return to a world that supposedly existed before 1914,[142] a world in which the traditional values of amateurism had provided the philosophical direction for British sport.

While the War undoubtedly had an impact, the intensity of the debate surrounding coaching proposals between 1912 and 1914 suggests that these initiatives were never going to remain uncontested. For the rest of the twentieth century, amateur values continued to take precedence over any residual coaching legacy left by the post-Stockholm initiatives, demonstrating just how fragile that legacy had been and emphasising the power of resistance inherent among those who adhered to traditional perspectives. British opposition to the ‘Americanisation’ of their sporting environment and a reluctance, in contrast to the enthusiasm demonstrated by their European competitors, to become more specialized in their preparation by employing American coaching methods, remained a consistent feature of the British approach to elite sport. Although the BOA report for 1936 conceded that devoting more time to specialist training would improve standards it also queried whether this would ‘demonstrate anything of national importance’ while Bevil Rudd (1938) praised the work of amateur coaches who ‘nobly tackled the spade-work that an army of paid coaches undertake in America and on the Continent’.[143]



[1] Sidney Brooks, ‘British Olympic Failures’, Observer, July 14, 1912, 18.

[2] Dave Day, Neil Carter, and Tegan Carpenter, ‘The Olympics, Amateurism and Britain’s Coaching Heritage’, International Journal of Heritage Studies 19 no. 2 (2013): 139-152.

[3] Dave Day, Professionals, Amateurs and Performance: Sports Coaching in England, 1789-1914 (Bern: Peter Lang, 2012); Dave Day and Tegan Carpenter, A History of Sports Coaching in Britain. (London: Routledge, 2016).

[4] Richard Holt, ‘The Amateur Body and the Middle-Class Man: Work, Health and Style in Victorian Britain’, Sport in History 26 no. 3 (2006): 362-366.

[5] The Times, December 29, 1910, 7.

[6] Sidney Brooks. ‘British Olympic Failures’, Observer, July 14, 1912, 18.

[7] Baily’s Monthly Magazine, LXXIV no. 487 (September 1900): 220.

[8] The Times, July 18, 1901, 7.

[9] ‘Rugby Union’, Manchester Guardian, September 22, 1913, 4.

[10] ‘Up-River Notes’, Observer, June 2, 1912, 17.

[11] Adolphe Abrahams and Harold Abrahams, Training for Health and Athletics (London: Hutchinson and Co., 1936), 117.

[12] Sam Wisdom census returns 1901 (RG13/1218/113/11); 1911 (RG14PN59RG78PN2); See also Dave Day and Tegan Carpenter, A History of Sports Coaching in Britain. (London: Routledge, 2016), 27, 47-48.

[13] Paul Warwick, ‘Did Britain Change? An Inquiry into the Causes of National Decline’, Journal of Contemporary History 20, no. 1 (1985): 101.

[14] Matthew P. Llewellyn, ‘The Empire Savers’, The International Journal of the History of Sport, 28 no. 5 (2011): 732.

[15] Sidney Brooks. ‘British Olympic Failures’, Observer, July 14, 1912, 18.

[16] ‘American athletes’, Morning Post, July 14, 1900, 4.

[17] Daily Mirror, December 3, 1908.

[18] Caspar Whitney, ‘The View-Point: Olympic Games American Committee Report’, Outing 53, (November 1908): 248.

[19] Derek Birley, Playing the Game: Sport and British Society, 1910-1945 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995), 19, 20; Eric Taplin, ‘The Labour General Transport Strike, 1911’, North West Labour History 36 (2012): 4.

[20] British Olympic Council, January 16, 1912, 2.

[21] ‘The Olympic Games’, Observer, December 31, 1911, 14.

[22] ‘Olympic Games’, Manchester Guardian, April 13, 1912, 8.

[23] A.B. George, ‘An Athletes’ Advisory Club’, Manchester Guardian, December 23, 1911, 14.

[24] ‘The Sporting World: Athletics’, Otautau Standard and Wallace Country Chronicle, June 16, 1914, 7; ‘British Athletics: Training and Snobbery’, Grey River Argus, October 23, 1912, 7; ‘Olympic Lessons: Scheme to Restore British Prestige’, Straits Times, August 28, 1912, 2.

[25] ‘The Olympic Games’, Observer, December 31, 1911, 14.

[26] AAA Olympic Committee Minutes, November 2, 1911; November 25, 1911; January 13, 1912; June 11, 1912, File 1/2/4/1, AAA Collection, Birmingham Archives.

[27] For details see Dave Day, ‘Massaging the Amateur Ethos: Professional Coaches at Stockholm in 1912’, Sport in History 32 no. 2 (2012): 157-182; Ian Stone, ‘Alec Nelson: Professional Runner, Athletics Coach and “Entrepreneur-Client”‘ in Sporting Lives ed. Dave Day (Manchester: MMU Institute for Performance Research), 88-111.

[28] Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, May 27, 1912, 10.

[29] ‘British Athletes: Can They Regain Supremacy’, Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, May 27, 1912, 10.

[30] British Olympic Council, The Fourth Olympiad: Official Report (London: BOA, 1908), 761-79; E. Bergvall, ed., The Official Report of the Olympic Games of Stockholm 1912 (Trans. Ray E. Adams, Stockholm: Wahlstrom and Widstrand, 1913), 289-303.

[31] Matthew P. Llewellyn, ‘”The Best Distance Runner the World Has Ever Produced”‘: Hannes Kolehmainen and the Modernisation of British Athletics’, The International Journal of the History of Sport, 29 no. 7 (2012): 1016-1034; Matthew P. Llewellyn, ‘A Nation Divided: Great Britain and the Pursuit of Olympic Excellence, 1912-1914’, Journal of Sport History 35 no. 1 (2008); Matthew P. Llewellyn, ‘The Empire Savers’, The International Journal of the History of Sport, 28 no. 5 (2011): 730-750; Neil Carter, ‘From Knox to Dyson: Coaching, Amateurism and British Athletics, 1912–1947’, Sport in History 30, no. 1 (2010): 55–81; Arnd Krüger, ‘”Buying Victories is Positively Degrading”: European Origins of Government Pursuit of National Prestige through Sport’, The International Journal of the History of Sport 12 no. 2 (1995): 183-200; Arnd Krüger, ‘Forgotten Decisions: The IOC on the Eve of World War I’, OLYMPIKA: The International Journal of Olympic Studies VI (1997): 85-98; Martin Polley, ”’No Business of Ours”: The Foreign Office and the Olympic Games, 1896–1914′, The International Journal of the History of Sport 13 (1996): 96–113.

[32] Sidney S. Abrahams, ‘English Athletics and Future Olympic Contests’, Badminton Magazine of Sport and Pastimes, September 1912, 508.

[33] University of Birmingham, Britain in World Sport, 9.

[34] ‘Failure of our Athletes. Not taking their work seriously’, Daily Mail, July 10, 1912, 7.

[35] W. Beach Thomas, ‘Games Versus Athletics’, Spectator, 109 no. 4388, August 3, 1912, 167.

[36] H.R. Thompson, ‘The Scandal of the Olympic Games’, Daily Mail, July 15, 1912, 8.

[37] Manchester Guardian, July 23, 1912, 16.

[38] A.T. Shoyer, ‘The Scandal of the Olympic Games’ Daily Mail, July 15, 1912, 8.

[39] Undismayed Harrovian, ‘The Scandal of the Olympic Games’, Daily Mail, July 15, 1912, 8.

[40] W.L.I., ‘Sport and the Olympic Games’, Manchester Guardian, July 23, 1912, 16.

[41] Sidney Brooks, ‘British Olympic Failures’, Observer, July 14, 1912, 18.

[42] Daily Mirror, July 31, 1912, 7.

[43] Scotsman, July 19, 1912, 6.

[44] Sidney Brooks, ‘British Olympic Failures’, Observer, July 14, 1912, 18.

[45] ‘Folly of International Sport’, Blackwood’s, August 1912, 253.

[46] W. Beach Thomas, ‘Games Versus Athletics’, Spectator, 109 no. 4388, August 3, 1912, 167.

[47] Edward Bayard Moss, ‘Americas Olympic Argonauts’, Harper’s Weekly, July 6, 1912, 11-12.

[48] Edward Bayard Moss, ‘America’s Athletics Missionaries’, Harper’s Weekly July 27, 1912, 8-9.

[49] ‘”‘Poor old England”. Jeering American Comment’, Daily Mail, July 10, 1912, 7.

[50] ‘Beaten British Athletes – American Criticism’, Daily Mail, July 12, 7.

[51] ‘Duke of Westminster, “Letter to the Editor”‘, The Times, August 27, 1913, 3.

[52] ‘Olympic Lessons’, Strait Times, August 28, 1912, 2.

[53] Matthew P. Llewellyn, ‘The Empire Savers’, The International Journal of the History of Sport, 28 no. 5 (2011): 730-750, 733.

[54] Edward Bayard Moss, ‘America’s Athletics Missionaries’, Harper’s Weekly, July 27, 1912, 8-9.

[55] ‘Lessons of the Games. Views in America’, Scotsman, July 17, 1912, 10.

[56] ‘Olympic Lessons’, Strait Times, August 28, 1912, 2.

[57] W.L.I., ‘Sport and the Olympic Games’, Manchester Guardian, July 23, 1912, 16.

[58] Arnd Krüger, ‘”Buying Victories is Positively Degrading”: European Origins of Government Pursuit of National Prestige through Sport’, International Journal of Sports History 12 no. 2 (1995): 186-187.

[59] ‘Olympic Games’, Straits Times, March 16, 1912, 3.

[60] AAA Olympic Committee Minutes, November 21, 1913.

[61] AAA Olympic Committee Minutes, February 20, 1914.

[62] Martin Polley, ‘”No Business of Ours”: The Foreign Office and the Olympic Games, 1896-1914’, The International Journal of the History of Sport 13 (1996): 96-113, 108, 109; See also Martin Polley, ‘The Amateur Ideal and British Sports Diplomacy, 1900-1945’, Sport in History 26 (2006): 450-467.

[63] ‘Olympic Lessons: Scheme to Restore British Prestige’, Strait Times, August 28, 1912, 2.

[64] ‘Great Britain and the Olympic Games’, The Times, March 14, 1913, 8; ‘Olympic Games Fund: The Attitude of the Special Committee’, The Times, September 5, 1913, 11; ‘The Appeal’, The Times, August 18, 1913, 6; ‘Olympic Games Fund: The Attitude of the Special Committee’, The Times, September 5, 1913, 11; ‘The British Olympic Council: New Scheme of Awards’, The Times, July 23, 1913, 14; BOA, Council Meeting Minutes, 2 April 1913; BOC, 1913, Aims and Objects, 15, 32.

[65] Matthew P. Llewellyn, ‘The Empire Savers’, The International Journal of the History of Sport, 28 no. 5 (2011): 733.

[66] ‘Hockey Notes’, Observer, October 5, 1913, 18.

[67] ‘Great Britain and the Olympic Games: Appeal for National Subscriptions’, The Times, August 18, 1913, 6.

[68] ‘Sullivan Doubtful of Olympic Fund’, New York Times, September 1, 1913, 3.

[69] ‘Britain and the Olympic Games: Review of the Situation’, The Times, September 22, 1913, 29.

[70] ‘To Berlin. How to Win at the Olympic Games’, Daily Mail, February 1, 1913, 5; Manchester Guardian, March 14, 1913, 12.

[71] ‘Professionalism and Gate Money’, The Times, August 26, 1913, 9.

[72] ‘A Remonstrance: Nowell Smith’, The Times, August 27, 1913, 3.

[73] ‘The Olympic Games Appeal: Should it Have National Support’, Manchester Guardian, August 28, 1913, 7.

[74] ‘The Appeal a “Degradation”‘, Manchester Guardian, September 7, 1913, 11.

[75] F.A.M. Webster, The Evolution of the Olympic Games, 1829 B.C.-1914 A.D. (London: Heath, Craton, & Ouseley Ltd, 1914), 246.

[76] ‘The Olympic Games: Retirement of the Special Committee’, The Times, January 16, 1914, 50.

[77] ‘Resignation of Olympic Committee. Letter from the Chairman to the Editor’, The Times, January 16, 1914, 55.

[78] ‘Olympic Lessons’, Strait Times, August 28, 1912, 2.

[79] ‘Olympic Games: View of Polytechnic’s President’, Sporting Life, August 14, 1912.

[80] ‘Where Britain Failed at Stockholm’, The Times, July 27, 1912, 10.

[81] The Times, July 29, 1912.

[82] The Times, August 5, 1912.

[83] Athletic News, July 29, 1912, 2.

[84] ‘The Olympic Games: The Need for British Organisation’, Sporting Life, August 7, 1912.

[85] ‘Olympic Games: Too Much Red Tape’, Sporting Life, August 13, 1912.

[86] A.B. George, ‘The Olympic Games’, Observer, August 3, 1913, 11.

[87] The Times, October 22, 1913, 12.

[88] ‘Olympic Lessons’, Strait Times, August 28, 1912, 2.

[89] Sam Mussabini, The Complete Athletic Trainer, 240.

[90] Krüger, ‘Buying Victories is Positively Degrading’, 183-200; ‘Forgotten decisions: The IOC on the eve of World War I’, Olympika: The International Journal of Olympic Studies, VI, (1997): 85-98.

[91] As the French government had been reluctant to invest public money into the preparation of its athletes, de Polignac provided industrial sponsorship. He had married into the Pommerey Champagne business, which was the main sponsor of the College and he later became an IOC member; For Herbert’s role as coach, see A. Krüger, ‘The History of Middle and Long Distance Running in the nineteenth and twentieth century,’ in: A. Teja & A. Krüger (eds.), La Comune Ereditâ dello Sport in Europa, Rome: CONI (1997).

[92] ‘The Recent Olympic Games. Reasons for Britain’s Inferiority’, Scotsman, September 19, 1912, 8.

[93] Roberta Park, ‘High-Protein Diets, “Damaged Hearts,” and rowing men: Antecedents of modern sports medicine and exercise science, 1867-1928’, In J.O. Holloszy (ed.), Exercise and Sport Science Reviews, 25, Baltimore, MD: Williams and Wilkins, (1997), 141.

[94] ‘Olympic Games’, Scotsman, September 3, 1913, 5.

[95] P.J. Moss, ‘Britain and the Olympic Games’, Daily Mirror, July 23, 1912, 14.

[96] ‘Failure of our Athletes. Not taking their work seriously’, Daily Mail, Wednesday July 10, 1912, 7.

[97] Edward Baynard Moss, ‘America’s Athletic Missionaries: Our triumph at the fifth revival of the Olympic Games and what it indicates as to the spread of sport around the world’, Harper’s Weekly July 27, 1912, 8.

[98] ‘Lessons of the Games. Views in America’, Scotsman, Wednesday July 17, 1912, 10.

[99] ‘The Recent Olympic Games. Reasons for Britain’s Inferiority’, Scotsman, September 19, 1912, 8.

[100] Matthew P. Llewellyn. ‘A Nation Divided: Great Britain and the Pursuit of Olympic Excellence, 1912-1914’, Journal of Sport History 35, no. 1 (2008): 74, 76, 78.

[101] Cesar R. Torres, ‘Expatriate Coaching, Olympism and the Olympic Games’, Sport, Ethics and Philosophy, 6 no. 2, (2012): 289-304, 290-293.

[102] ‘To Berlin. How to Win at the Olympic Games’, Daily Mail, February 1, 1913, 5.

[103] ‘American to Train Anglolympians! Cool proposal to oust Britons who know their game. How not to do it! By Outspoken’, Daily Express, February 26, 1913, 8.

[104] Daily Express, September 19, 1913, 5.

[105] The Times, August 27, 1913, 3.

[106] Birley, Playing the Game, 30-31; Baker, ‘Whose Hegemony?’, 11-12.

[107] Manchester Guardian, February 25, 1914, 8.

[108] ‘Cricket Notes: Cricket and Olympiads’, Morning Post, July 29, 1912.

[109] Hugh Henry. ‘Supremacy in Games and Sport,’ Baily’s Magazine of Sports and Pastimes, September 1912, 183-184.

[110] Observer, 29 July 1912; ‘Olympic Games: Should England Retire?’, Observer, August 4, 1912.

[111] The Times, July 21, 1912; August 17, 1912, 11; August 14, 1912.

[112] W.W.S. ‘England at the Olympic Games’, Daily Mirror, August 1, 1912.

[113] ‘Olympic Games Fund: The Attitude of the Special Committee’, The Times, September 5, 1913, 11.

[114] BOC, Official Report, 27.

[115] ‘English Athlete in Favor of U.S. Training Methods,’ Washington Post, October 19, 1913, sec. S, 2.

[116] The Times, August, 9, 1912.

[117] Manchester Guardian, August 28, 1913, 7; ‘Olympic Games Fund. “Americanised” Trainers. An “American” writing to the editor’, Manchester Guardian, August 29, 1913, 8.

[118] British Olympic Council, Official Report of the Olympic Games of 1912 in Stockholm, (London, 1912), 14.

[119] BOC, Aims and Objects, 1913, 15, 32.

[120] AAA, Olympic Committee Minutes, January 4, 1913.

[121] AAA Olympic Committee Minutes, October 5, 1913.

[122] MCAAA Committee Minutes, 3 July 3, 1913; August 7, 1913; August 14, 1913; August 27, 1913; Daily Mirror, July 23, 1913, 14; Manchester Guardian, August 29, 1913, 8.

[123] AAA Olympic Committee Minutes, November 21, 1913.

[124] AAA Olympic Committee Minutes, January 4, 1913; July 16, 1913; November 21, 1913.

[125] AAA Olympic Committee Minutes, February 20, 1914.

[126] ‘Resignation of Olympic Committee. Letter from the Chairman to the Editor’, The Times, January 16, 1914, 55; ‘The Olympic Games’, Nottingham Evening Post, January 16, 1914. Running high jump, 5ft 4½in., 56lb weight, 22ft 4in., pole vault, 11ft 3in., hammer, 102ft 3in., 100 yards, 10 3-5secs, three standing jumps, 31ft 5½in., discus, 104ft, 120 yards hurdles, 19sec, 16lb shot, 41ft 9½in., running long jump, 20ft 10in.

[127] £400 in 1914 equated to around £36,308 in 2012.

[128] ‘The Olympic Games: Retirement of the Special Committee’, The Times, January 16, 1914, 50; Lovesey, The Official Centenary History of the AAA, 119; Greg Moon, Albert Hill, 22; Manchester Guardian, January 16, 1914, 9, 55.

[129] AAA Olympic committee, February 20, 1914.

[130] ‘Northern Coaches for the Olympic Games’, Manchester Guardian, May 3, 1914, 13.

[131] Nottingham Evening Post, May 6, 1914, 8.

[132] ‘Northern Coaches for the Olympic Games’, Manchester Guardian, May 3, 1914, 13.

[133] ‘Olympic Training Scheme’, Manchester Evening News, May 23, 1914, 6.

[134] ‘Aberdeen and Olympic Games’, Aberdeen Evening Express, May 20, 1914, 9; Aberdeen Daily Journal, May 20, 1914, 9.

[135] ‘Olympic Trial Sports in Manchester’, Manchester Guardian, May 21, 1914, 3.

[136] ‘M.A.C. Olympic Trials at Fallowfield’, Manchester Guardian, May 25, 1914, 4.

[137] Draft AAA letter, July 9, 1914.

[138] Day, ‘Massaging the Amateur Ethos’, 1; Professionals, Amateurs and Performance, especially chapter 6.

[139] Matthew P. Llewellyn, ‘The Empire Savers’, The International Journal of the History of Sport, 28 no. 5 (2011): 730-750, 733.

[140] Carter, ‘From Knox to Dyson’, 66.

[141] Grace Horseman, Growing up between 1900 & 1920 (Devon: Cottage Publishing, 1996), vi; Jay Winter, ‘”Lost Generation” of the First World War’, Population Studies 31 no. 3 (1977): 449; Reginald Pound, The Lost Generation (London: Constable, 1964).

[142] Mike Huggins and Jack Williams, Sport and the English, 1918-1939 (Oxon: Routledge, 2006), 75.

[143] BOA report for 1936; Bevil Rudd (1938)