The Changing Image of the 1960s Football Hero: an interrogation of the effects of media on representations of the star player

Deakin, Graham Stuart (2016) The Changing Image of the 1960s Football Hero: an interrogation of the effects of media on representations of the star player. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This thesis investigates continuities and change in the visualization of the hero in 1960s English football, a period of transition for the player from traditional to modern football practices. It does so from a socio-historical perspective.
Its principal aim has been to explore the media representation of the evolution of the visual image of the football hero. This through the study of primary source archive material in the form of media images held by the National Football Museum archive and the National Photographic collection at the National Media Museum. In addition a corpus of contemporary images published in the mass and sports media of the day are considered, along with objects of material culture pertinent to the eulogy of the football hero. In so doing the research looks to understand if the theoretical hero typologies of previous sociological studies are evident in the actual historic visual portrayal of the time.
The study of the historic visual culture of football is of relevance given the corporeal nature of the game and the prevalence of the image in communicating its narrative. However, the interrogation of the visual record is an under-utilised research tool in sports history. This research then looks to play a part in addressing this omission in its contribution to the understanding of what constitutes a football hero.
The thesis firstly considers theoretical hero typologies appropriate to the football context. It then provides a chronological synopsis of the visualisation of the hero footballer in the period preceding that of this particular study, the 1960s. The chronological structure is continued in the specific study of the Sixties decade. Individual hero players are considered in each chapter as redolent of relevant hero types. Visual references are included as examples at the conclusion of each chapter.
Based on the visual evidence the thesis finds that, unlike those sociological typologies that tend to be presented sequentially, visual representations of the hegemonic football hero are continuous, gradualist and emergent. It establishes that the synthesis of change in player socio-economic circumstance and coterminous media advances combines to influence both the on-field and off-duty representation of the football hero. It also challenges the assertion that cultural and aesthetic decisions dominate technological determinism, by suggesting that the commercial imperative plays a central role in shaping the image of the football hero.

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