Conference: Football and the Spanish Civil War

Post date: 09/01/2019

What impact did the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39 have on football? Is the legacy of the war still present, and does it help us understand Spanish football today? What about Britain: did the war in Spain have any effects on football here?


These are some of the questions that are likely to be addressed by experts at a unique one-day conference in Oxford on 23 March.


The main speakers will be Sid Lowe, The Guardian’s Madrid-based football correspondent, and Scotland-based football social historian Daniel Gray. Both have written books not only on football but also the Spanish Civil War.


Sid Lowe is the author of ‘Fear and Loathing in La Liga: Barcelona vs Real Madrid’ and ‘Catholicism, War and the Foundation of Francoism’.


Daniel Gray’s books include ‘Black Boots and Football Pinks: 50 Lost Wonders of the Beautiful Game’ and ‘Homage to Caledonia: Scotland and the Spanish Civil War’.


They will be speaking at the annual lecture day organised by the International Brigade Memorial Trust, the educational charity that keeps alive the memory of the volunteers from the British Isles who fought fascism during the Spanish Civil War.


Chaired by Professor Sir Paul Preston, who is considered to be the world’s foremost historian of the Spanish Civil War, the conference is being  supported by the Professional Footballers’ Association.


As well as music from Maddy Carty, Robb Johnson and Na-mara, there will also be two film screenings: 

– the UK premiere of the TV documentary ‘Republican Captain’ (Raúl Román/Antonio Vilaseco, Spain, 2018, 30mins) about Patricio Escobal, the former Real Madrid captain who was imprisoned by Franco; 

– plus a rare screening of the 1938 Henri Cartier-Bresson documentary ‘With the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in Spain’ (20mins), which includes footage of International Brigade volunteers playing football. 



Regarded by many as a prelude to the Second World War, the Spanish Civil War saw the triumph of a military revolt led by General Franco with the support of troops, weapons and aircraft sent by Hitler and Mussolini. Britain and the other Western democracies enforced a policy of non-intervention, which meant an arms embargo on Spain’s elected government. This was one of the factors that motivated 2,500 men and women from Britain and Ireland to join the International Brigades – of whom 534 lost their lives in Spain. They formed part of an extraordinary army of some 35,000 anti-fascist volunteers from around the world who took up arms to defend the Spanish Republic.


Named after the junior doctor from Blackburn who joined the International Brigades and became the chief medical officer of the Spanish Republic’s 15th Army Corps, the IBMT’s annual Len Crome Memorial Conference is this year being held in Oxford (at Kellogg College, 60-62 Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6PN) for the first time since it was inaugurated in 2001.


Tickets are £15 in advance or £20 on the door. Send cheques payable to ‘IBMT’ to: International Brigade Memorial Trust, 37a Clerkenwell Green, London EC1R 0DU; or book online via Eventbrite:


For more information contact 

Jim Jump (IBMT): or 07770 587 257


To book a stall at the event contact 
John Haywood (IBMT):


Posted on 9 January 2019.

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