Stop the Tour

There is a new film about apartheid in sport. The BT Sport film is called Stop the Tour (link). In it, Peter Hain discusses his efforts to disrupt and stop the 1970 South African cricket tour of England. It includes a careful look at the Springbok rugby tour of Britain in 1969, 1970.

The article on Peter concludes with this quote “the values that motivated me to speak out against corruption today are exactly the same values of integrity, morality, justice and equality that motivated me to stop the 1970 cricket tour”.

In 1969 when Peter was 19, I was travelling around England looking for Universities to attend. Wherever I travelled I noted that students at those Universities had become actively involved in protest. This I think was part of the success of the protest. Local groups were activated based on the morality, justice and equality put before them. A number of the students were injured in their protest.

When I went to University in 1970, I chose a degree in social sciences. The third year of which included in a specialism in the politics of Southern Africa.

My interest in sport in South Africa was kindled by research for an undergraduate research project at the University of York in 1973 supervised by Adrian Leftwich. I became involved in the anti-apartheid movement and met Sam Ramsamy. I hoped to go to coach in South Africa in 1977 but was not able to do so. I was involved in Sam’s United Nations work in 1978 and attended meetings with Peter Hain.

Through Sam I became interested in the work of SANROC. I spent time at Sam’s home in East London. Through this contact and occasional conversations with Peter, I became aware of my own feelings about morality, justice and equality.

As a student of politics, I was confused by claims that we should keep politics out of sport. Sport is a political act and I was keen to explore the situated nature of sport in society. I saw this as a key to sanctions against apartheid. My friends at Rosslyn Park acknowledged the role my public presence would play in making my protest public. They were very supportive of a difference of view.

I was delighted to be able to visit South Africa in 1995 and visit townships in Bloemfontein and Soweto (link). I saw this as the start of a change that I hoped would initiate real change in the lives of South Africa.

I am pleased Peter has worked with the South African cricket historian, Andre Odendaal, to write a book about the protest campaign. It is titled Pitch Battles: Protest, Play and Prejudice and will be published May 2020.

I think the protest is a remarkable story. My direct experience of it is through conversations with Sam Ramsamy. I attended public meetings with Peter. I loved the idea that much of the audience of those meetings were from the Special Branch.

Photo Credit

Students against apartheid (SAM archives (link))

Sam Ramsamy (Inside the Games, link)

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