Resources at the National Library of Scotland
the Library's collections.
You can find a large amount of sports material in the National Library of Scotland's collections, particularly about Scottish sport. Almost every sport you can think of is represented, from athletics to Xingyi Quan, a Chinese martial art.
We request a copy of every sports book and periodical published in the UK and Ireland, through legal deposit.
Our collections also grow through donations and include programmes, biographies, club histories, fanzines, annuals and yearbooks.
In addition, we collect every national and regional newspaper published in Scotland, along with a number of specialist sports newspapers.
Sport in Scotland
Scots have played a key role in the history and development of many sports. As the home of golf, shinty and the Highland Games, Scotland's influence on sport around the world continues today.
Scotland is a major player in world sport, as the host nation for international competitions such as the Commonwealth Games in 1970, 1986 and 2014, and the Ryder Cup in 2014. We have a comprehensive collection of publications relating to the 2014 Commonwealth Games, which were held in Glasgow.
Scotland is considered the home of golf, and the origins of the modern game can be traced back to the 15th century.
The Old Course at St Andrews is a site of pilgrimage for golfers from around the world. St Andrews is also home to 'The R&A', the organisation which revises and produces the rules of golf alongside the United States Golf Association.
You can find nearly 4,000 books about golf in our collections. These range from magnificent illustrated volumes on the major courses in Scotland, through to stories of local Scottish clubs and worldwide golf tournaments.
Golf collection highlights
Highlights from our modern golf collections include:
- 'A history of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club, St Andrews: from 1754-1900', by H S C Everard [Library shelfmark: NF.1202.c.5]
- 'The life of Tom Morris: With glimpses of St Andrews and its golfing celebrities', by W W Tulloch. [S.162.d.9] View a digital copy on the Internet Archive
- 'The rules of golf of the ten oldest golf clubs from 1754 to 1848: Together with the rules of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews for the years 1858, 1875, 1888', by Charles B Clapcott [N3.205.3990L]
- 'A swing through time: Golf in Scotland, 1457-1744', by Olive M Geddes [GNE.2007.2.3]
- 'True links: An illustrated guide to the glories of the world's 246 links courses', by George Peper [HB188.8.131.52]
- 'The chronicles of golf, 1457-1857', by Alastair Johnson [H9.94.230]
- 'Golf, Scotland's game', by David Hamilton [HP4.99.405].
We also have many rare books about golfing, and hold some of the earliest written records of the sport, including:
- Early editions of 'The Goff', Thomas Mathison's 1743 mock-heroic epic poem
- Rare 19th century pamplets relating to the establishment of golf clubs throughout Scotland and the rest of the UK.
Our online golf resources include:
- A list of our golf manuscripts
- 'Golf in Scotland, 1457-1744' — our web feature about the origins and history of golf
- 'A swing through time: Golf in Scotland' — the Library's 2010 exhibition about the sport.
Rovers', a history
of the football club,
Football is a national British obsession, which dominates the sport sections of newspapers, along with television and radio sports coverage.
We have thousands of items, covering all aspects of the game both at home and abroad, including:
- Match programmes up to the current season
- Biographies of football stars of the past and today
- The first printing of the rules of the Scottish Football Association, from 1875
- Football-related manuscript collections. View a list of our football manuscripts
- Football fanzines.
Subjects covered include:
- Early development of football in Scotland
- Scottish football during the First World War
- The Scotland international team.
We actively collect football fanzines and match programmes, and have large collections of both.
All levels of the game are represented, including the Scottish Professional Football League, Highland League and junior football. We also collect material on the rapidly developing women's game.
about Scottish rugby.
Scotland's connection with rugby is long-established. The first ever rugby international match was played at Raeburn Place, Edinburgh, on 27 March 1871 — between England and Scotland. Ever since, what was to become the Calcutta Cup has been a major fixture in the Scottish sporting calendar.
Our extensive rugby collections cover the history and development of the game, including:
- The first ever Scottish match in December 1857: Edinburgh University versus Edinburgh Academicals
- The 1883 invention of rugby sevens by Ned Haig, a Melrose butcher
- The 2014 Rugby World Cup and the Six Nations tournament.
Our collections include:
- Biographies of players
- Programmes for club and international matches — including youth and women's rugby
- Many histories of the game
- Rugby manuscript ephemera. View a list of our rugby manuscripts.
player from our sport
Shinty — or in Gaelic, 'camanachd' or 'iomain' — is arguably the most Scottish sport of them all.
A stick-and-ball game played by two teams of 12 players, it has some similarities to hockey and lacrosse. Shinty probably shares a common ancestry with the Irish game of hurling.
Mainly played today in the Highlands, shinty was taken by Highland emigrants to England, Lowland Scotland, Australia, and is even played today in California. It is also played at the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, St Andrews and Inverness UHI.
A fast-moving and exciting game, its popularity has increased with match broadcasts on BBC ALBA and BBC Two Scotland.
We have many publications on shinty, including team histories and publications of the sport's governing body, the Camanachd Association. The sport is also covered in the sports pages of the many Highland newspapers that we collect.
Read more about materials on shinty in our collection
Cricket and tennis
Cricket and tennis have long been popular and widely-played in Scotland:
- Now a world-famous tennis player, Andy Murray has greatly increased the profile of tennis in Scotland
- In 1985, the Fife village of Freuchie won the National Village Cricket Cup against Rowledge at Lords — one of the greatest stories in Scottish sporting history.
We have a strong collection of histories of local Scottish cricket and tennis clubs, and we hope to continue to build on this.
Our collections include cricket-related manuscript items such as photographs, sketches, tickets and diaries. The earliest known Scottish cricket printed item in our collection is the 'Rules of the Fettercairn Cricket Club', from 1865.
Email Ian Scott — the Library's Sport, Leisure and Newspapers Curator — with any questions or comments about our sport collections. You can also visit the Library to view sports items from the collections, either as part of a small group or as an individual.