The British Newspaper Archive is a website which makes available digital copies of British newspapers from the archives of the British Library (for a fee) and which has become a very valuable online resource for sports historians, including soccer historians.
The content now includes copies of several sporting papers from England: Bell’s Life, Athletic News, The Sportsman and even a brief run of the Sports Argus from Birmingham. However, there is currently no specialist sporting from Scotland available and we feel this situation needs to be rectified. Sport in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was as popular in Scotland as it was in England. There were several specialist newspapers in Scotland during this period including the Scottish Athletic Journal, the Scottish Umpire and Scottish Sport (an amalgamation of these titles). However, the longest lasting of these newspapers was the Scottish Referee which appeared from November 1888 until November 1914.
The British Newspaper Archive website allows you to vote for individual newspaper titles that you would like to see included on the database. You don’t need to register on the site or pay, you just need an email address. You can use up to three votes for any title out of 10 votes allocated to you. To access this area you need to go to ‘Help & Advice’ and then ‘Newspapers we should add next’. Currently Scottish Referee, a very important resource for information about Scottish football in the late 19th and early 20th centuries has 294 votes. We urge all readers to exercise their voting powers to increase this number with the aim of seeing it appear on the database in the future. You can do so by clicking on this link, making your vote and adding comments in support:
Three reasons why you should vote for the Scottish Referee:
* It’s the longest running of all the specialist pre-1914 Scottish sports papers. The Referee was published for 26 years up until the outbreak of World War One
*It provides a comprehensive record of Scottish football (soccer and rugby), cycling, athletics, golf and other sports for this period, much in the way that Athletic News does for English sport
*It’s a historic newspaper in its own right: The Scottish Referee is the newspaper which coined the term ‘The Old Firm’ to describe the relationship between Celtic and Rangers in a cartoon published in April 1904.
UPDATED: 11 FEBRUARY 2017
The campaign has been successful! All issues of The Scottish Referee for 1891 are now available on the British Newspaper Archive and hopefully more years will follow soon.