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When Middlesbrough Fell In Love With North Korea
Members of the returning heroes of 1966 visit the site of Ayresome Park. Photo by Karen Shields
The story of an unlikely international connection between Middlesbrough and North Korea is to feature alongside a visit by the South Korean Ambassador to the UK and an insight into life in North Korea as part of a two-day long festival later this month.

University of Huddersfield academic Dr Tosh Warwick will reveal findings from his latest research on legacies of the 1966 FIFA World Cup Finals as part of the event to be held at the International Institute of Korean Studies, UCLAN on 5-6 November.

The Teesside Star reports on Russia’s match with North Korea at Middlesbrough’s Ayresome Park (Credit - Teesside Archives)
The new research explores the links harnessed between the north east town and DPRK since the underdogs famously beat much-fancied Italy at Middlesbrough’s Ayresome Park during the group stages of the 1966 World Cup to produce one of the biggest shocks in the tournament’s history. The talk features material from the collections of Middlesbrough Football Club, Middlesbrough Reference Library, Teesside Archives and private collections, and also draws upon recollections by those involved in organising the 2002 return to England by surviving members of the 1966 team as well as accounts of the Middlesbrough Ladies’ 2010 tour of North Korea.

Dr Tosh Warwick said “The links between Middlesbrough and Pyongyang highlight some of the ways in which sport and football in particular can help bridge international divides and bring together communities who otherwise would not have interacted. Pak Doo-Ik’s match-winning strike against Italy not only secured the team’s place in footballing history but has also led to a fascinating, lasting bond between the north-east and North Korea”.

Sir Stanley Rous meets members of the North Korean team in 1966 (Credit - Middlesbrough Libraries and Evening Gazette)
Dr Niki Alsford, Reader in Asia Pacific Studies and Director of the International Institute of Korean Studies said “By exploring stories such as this, it helps to frame North Korea as multi-layered and away from the single narrative that is often mediated. It might be contended that some tropes of the North Korean ideological concept of ‘juche’, or self-reliance, are very much transferable to the everyday person of Middlesbrough”.

There are longer term plans to publish on the enduring links and seek funding to digitise some of the historical material uncovered during the research so that members of the public can access the material.

More information on the IKSU Annual Korean Festival can be found at https://www.uclan.ac.uk/schools/language-global-studies/iksu/upcoming-events.php.

When Middlesbrough Fell In Love With North Korea, 2nd November 2018, 9:47 AM