Scottish football and colonial Zimbabwe: Sport, the Scottish diaspora, and 'white Africa'

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In 1969 and 1970 respectively, Clyde and Kilmarnock Football Clubs embarked on highly controversial tours of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), then in conflict with the UK over its failure to enact a timetable for majority, non-white rule, and its 1965 unilateral declaration of independence to protect such a system. Despite defying the wishes of the UK Government, these tours were covered very little in Scottish newspapers, and there was little sustained public outcry. This article examines the uneven Scottish and Westminster reactions to the tours (in particular, Kilmarnock’s) in the context of broader policies and movements against Rhodesian and South African sport. It also examines Rhodesian press accounts of the trips, which stressed communion with elements of the Scottish diaspora within Rhodesian civic society. It also addresses the tours’ place within the broader context of work, race and migration during the period 1965-80, where the Rhodesian Front government and its white settler supporters were under continual siege from a multi-pronged nationalist resistance. Critically, this article asks whether or not Scotland and indeed Scottish sport can be extricated from the horrors of decolonisation, in a region where both had deep historic roots.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-99
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Scottish Historical Studies
Issue number1
Early online date20 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2017


  • Scottish football
  • Zimbabwe
  • Rhodesia
  • Ian Smith
  • Kilmarnock
  • Clyde
  • Scottish diaspora


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