Researchers at the University of Exeter have been tackling the question of ‘what is the heritage of now?’ to ensure current events and items are correctly documented and preserved for people to enjoy retrospectively.

“The value of sporting heritage often lies in the stories, memories and conversations that are created by engaging with the heritage. It is these stories, memories and conversations that make us who we are and that will be of value not just to us but also to future heritage and sport fans,” notes Gabriella Giannachi, professor in Performance and New Media at the university.

Giannachi and her colleague Dr Will Barrett, who has served as project coordinator, have worked to transform Exeter City Football Club’s archive from a cupboard full of historic items into one of the most conclusive sporting digital archives around.

“We are regularly documenting events, making sure that we preserve the club’s history for the archive. We don’t just document what happens on the ground, we also document the work of volunteers, the experience of coming to the ground, and what it means to people,” Giannachi continues.

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The Old Grandstand © Peter Robinson

The Grecian Archive has received support from both National Lottery Heritage Fund and the South West Heritage Trust since being established in 2015, and its online content has since clocked up over 600,000 page views from 144 different countries. Physical items in the collection are also exhibited across the Club’s stadium, including in a museum room which hosts permanent and temporary displays.

“Working directly with people to collect, preserve, share and celebrate the history and heritage of Exeter City Football Club and its community, has been central to our work throughout, and has been a hugely significant factor in exploring and displaying a range of themes all across the stadium,” Barrett notes.

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