chapter  9
Ludism, laughter and liquor: homosocial behaviour in late-Victorian Scottish harriers clubs
Pages 19

Within sport there has always been a tension between the importance of serious sporting competition and the wish to take part for straightforward pleasure. In late-Victorian Scotland the pursuit of sporting pleasure provoked powerful polarities and cross-currents. On the one hand, sporting rhetoric provided elevated, serious and purposeful reasons for participation. Sport was presented as respectable and as a constructive force, and, wherever possible, arguments for its rational and improving nature were marshalled to support it. On the other hand, as Richard Holt has indicated, ‘conviviality lies at the heart of sport’.1 In part this was a broader sense of camaraderie and companionship, but in the case of many sports clubs, including the harriers’ clubs that form the subject of this chapter, elite male conviviality, social activities and general clubbability were certainly as great attractions for many members as the manly and virile images of the sport itself. The complex relationships between sociability and the social pleasures of ludism, laughter and liquor on the one hand, and the more ‘rational’, ‘respectable’ or religious reasons for sporting participation, on the other, can be illustrated by a study of the Scottish harriers clubs over the period 1885-1900.