Peel Park, Accrington Community Project: Social Dynamics of mid-20th Century Sport

Rick Peterson and David Robinson

What role did local professional sports play in local identity in the development of the modern world? Found in the very heart of community life, football stadiums of the early to mid 20th Century played an incalculable role as focal points for community members to come together in mass participation. While historical documents allow us to examine the textual accounts of those football grounds, archaeology allows us to examine the material culture of the people who spend their time at this famous football pitch.

Built in 1919, Peel Park football ground was built for the Accrington Stanley FC. The club played at the ground until they famously became the first professional club to resign from the Football League in 1962. The main stands burnt down in the late 1970s and the ground became the playing field for the neighbouring Peel Park Primary School; although it is still used for Sunday league football. Accrington Stanley were relaunched as a non-league side in 1968 and gained promotion back to the Football League in 2006; they now play at the nearby Crown Ground (Fraser Eagle Stadium) in the 2nd division of the league.

This dig is a joint project with Peel Park School and BBC North West’s Late Kick Off programme and therefore includes a large element of public archaeology.

Further links

BBC coverage of Accrington Stanley Excavations:

Peel Park 2011 Excavation Report

Peterson, R. & Robinson, D. 2012. Excavations and the afterlife of a professional football stadium, Peel Park, Accrington, Lancashire: towards an archaeology of football, World Archaeology,

44:2, 263-279.


Archaeology Research Group