The Rochdale Pioneers Museum has launched an exhibition celebrating co-operation in sport. Come on, Co-op! explores how co-operation has always been essential in team sports – and how sports have traditionally played a big part in membership activities for co-operatives.
The exhibition, which opened on 2 July and runs until July 2017, focuses on the co-operative movement and its historical impact within sport, and also looks at contemporary local sports co-ops such as the Rochdale Hornets and FC United.
It was organised by Rochdale Pioneers Museum exhibitions curator, Jonathan Priestley, who drew inspiration from a Co-operative News article on the subject.
“Being a fan of most sports myself I saw this as a fantastic opportunity to hold an exhibition on sport within the co-operative sector, from its co-operative sports to sport co-operatives,” said Mr Priestley.
“Sports, although competitive are also co-operative by nature – especially team sports. Throughout its history, the British co-operative movement used sports as a way to build team work and provide its workers with recreational activities on quite a grand scale.
“Today, many sport teams are turning to fan-ownership for stability and prosperity. It’s a popular model, not only in Spain (with Barcelona and Real Madrid), but also in Germany and South America. With the help of Supporter’s Direct, many UK based sport teams are turning to fan-ownership as well.”
The goal of Come on, Co-op! is to bring the knowledge of sports within the international co-op movement to the public, and the museum is planning a series of events around the exhibition.
“My favourite part of the exhibition is being able to display Stanley Matthews’ CWS football boots from our collection,” adds Mr Priestley.
“One of the most legendary English footballers in British history, Stanley Matthews had his own pair of football boots designed by himself, and made by the Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS) Boot Works.”