Lucy May, 1875-1956
One of my children bought me one of these DNA match kits for Christmas and I was surprised to find how heavy the concentration of matches in London was. I knew, of course, that my family had lived in Plumstead Common since the First World War, but I also knew that there was Cornish and Scottish ancestry. However, when I started to trace my family tree, the preponderance of Londoners born and bred was clear. Some were within the sound of Bow Bells. My great-great grandmother Mary Heaven was born at Tower Hill in 1801 and married at St. Martins in the Fields in 1819.
The women on the maternal side of my family tended to live long lives, even before the advent of modern medicine. My maternal grandmother, Lucy Adelaide Florence May, was born in 1875 and died at Plumstead Common in 1956.
She was in her twenties when Queen Victoria died and was in many ways a Victorian. But she also had a very strong interest in football. Admittedly, this was partly for gambling purposes, doing 'the pools' as everyone did in those days. But her interest was far broader. Although she had had very limited education, she was evidently an intelligent woman.
Because her son-in-law was a newsagent she was able to get such football publications as there were free of charge. She was particularly interested in questions of promotion and relegation, issues which she discussed with me at some length. Her view was that in the short run these might be explained by managers and players. However, there were also longer run forces at work. She obviously didn't use this language, but she meant structural and demographic. For example, did the demotion of Liverpool from the top flight say something about the city?
I am completing negotiations with Manchester University Press for a book on football to follow up the one I co-edited for them in 2010. The book will be dedicated to my grandmother who stimulated my interest in the broader context of the game. In my study I have a simple ornament which used to be on her bedside table.