What did the World Student Games ever do for us?
‘It was beginning of Sheffield turning a corner and reinventing itself’
Good afternoon members — and welcome to Thursday’s Tribune.
When Chinese premier Zhou Enlai was asked about the impact of the French Revolution in 1972, he famously said it was “too early to say”. The Chinese government obviously doesn't have the same problem, but our four-year electoral cycles mean that our political culture tends to judge things on a very short term timetable. One example of this is the World Student Games, an event that took place in Sheffield 32 years ago. The games were meant to transform the fortunes of a city that had been on its knees throughout much of the 80s. But almost from the moment the sport ended, a narrative has stuck that they were an expensive mistake. Today we ask: what did the World Student Games ever do for us?
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🌍 Sheffield City Council have published the first sections of their “route map” for Net Zero, The Star report. The latest report, which is based on the 10-point plan for climate action the council adopted last year, covers how they plan to decarbonise their vehicle fleet, offices and social housing, and also how we can change the way we travel by improving public transport and encouraging more active travel. For our piece about Sheffield and Net Zero click here.
🚬 A wonderful, moving piece in Exposed magazine by Chris McClure, who we spoke to for our piece about the miracle of Hillsborough earlier this year. In this piece, Chris writes about how his early brush with fame, as the unlikely cover star of Arctic Monkeys’ first album, was something of a mixed blessing. And he also opens up about his decision to stop drinking, his abiding love for Sheffield and its unique people, and his comedy alter-ego Steve Bracknall.
🏗️ Leah’s Yard, the former little mester’s workshop which is currently being turned into a hub for independent makers and traders, have released an amazing drone-shot film which shows the progress of their project and the wider Cambridge Street area. The video shows the steel frame for the new-build section of the development now in place, as well as the new Cambridge Street Collective, Bethel Chapel and Pound’s Park. The project is due to complete next year.
Things to do
🔪 At Kelham Island Museum on Saturday, 12 August, step into the forge with expert knife maker Simon Maillet to see him forge a blade for a kitchen knife from scratch. Attendees will be introduced to the tools he uses, and the techniques, posture and stance required to forge by hand, from the rough shape of a steel bar to a thin cutting edge. Two sessions will take place on the day, one from 10.30am-12pm and one from 2pm-3.30pm. Tickets are £40.
🍔 It’s giving sunshine and showers for the next Quayside Market at Victoria Quays on Saturday (12pm-9pm), which given the summer we’ve been having could have been a lot worse. This weekend’s market sees a huge range of street food including tacos from Pellizco, Indian kati rolls and wings from Koolkata, hot dogs from Salty Dogg and BBQ by Shoot the Bull. There will also be all the usual bars and craft stalls, plus music from Cirque du Funk.
🧱 Family Lego Sunday returns to John Street Kitchen in Highfield this Sunday, 13 August. Facilitated by experts Maria and John, the event is billed as a “fun and friendly Lego session for little and not-so-little ones alike”. Tickets are £10 per table (up to five people) but this is redeemable on food and drink in the cafe. Two time slots are available: 10am-12pm or 12.30pm-2.30pm. For my report from a brilliant repair cafe at the same venue, click here.
What did the World Student Games ever do for us?
On 14 July 1991, the day after Bryan Adams’ “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” started its mammoth four-month-long stay at Number 1, the World Student Games began in Sheffield. It was the biggest sporting event to be held in the UK since the London Olympics of 1948, attracting 3,300 athletes from 101 countries. But two years ago for the 30th anniversary of the games, there was little celebration of a great moment in the city’s history. A few articles on the BBC website and in The Star did mark the occasion, but they focused as much on the eye-watering cost of the event as they did on the sporting spectacle.
As a newcomer to the city, there are a certain number of claims made about Sheffield that you quickly learn to accept uncritically. One, of course, is the unquestioned supremacy of Hendo’s. Two, is that it’s the greenest city in the country, no matter what anyone else says. And a third is that the World Student Games (or to give them their proper title, the 16th Summer Universiade) were a colossal failure that continue to hoover up millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to this day. But 32 years on, do we now have sufficient distance to be able to question that narrative? Is it time to rehabilitate the World Student Games?