Richard Mills

Richard Mills


  • 3.32 Arts and Humanities Building

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Personal profile

Academic Background

Ph.D. Modern History; University of East Anglia (2013)


Richard Mills completed his PhD at the University of East Anglia, where he joined the School of History as Lecturer in Modern European History in 2012. His 2018 monograph, The Politics of Football in Yugoslavia: Sport, Nationalism and the State was awarded the Lord Aberdare Literary Prize for Sport History. In 2019, the Zagreb-based publisher Profil Knjiga released a Croatian edition, Nogomet i politika u Jugoslaviji: Sport, nacionalizam i država.

Elsewhere, Richard has published widely on the history of sport and football, both in the former Yugoslavia and the United Kingdom. His research has appeared in Nationalities Papers, Europe-Asia Studies, the International Journal of the History of Sport, Sport in History, History: The Journal of the Historical Association, and Sport in Society. He has also contributed to When Saturday Comes, The New European, Planet: The Welsh Internationalist, History Workshop OnlineSoccer History, and The Conversation.

He has been interviewed by, or had his work featured by, media outlets internationally, including Jutarnji list, Slobodna Dalmacija, Večernji list, and Nacional (Croatia),, and Novi magazin (Serbia), Deutsche WelleDeutschlandfunk, Süddeutsche Zeitung, and Neues Deutschland (Germany), Dnevni list (Bosnia), Neue Zürcher Zeitung (Switzerland), Radio Študent (Slovenia), The Indian Express (India), BBC World Service, BBC Radio Norfolk, BBC Radio Berkshire, BBC Radio Oxford, OutsideWrite PodcastEastern Daily Press, and East Anglian Daily Times (UK), El Confidencial and Jot Down (Spain), and Vice and Jacobin (USA).

Richard convenes undergraduate modules on 'Communism and Nationalism in Yugoslavia', 'Twentieth Century Sport History', and 'The Cold War: A New History'.

Key Research Interests

  • The history of football and its interaction with politics, nationalism and conflict
  • Transnational sport history 
  • Socialist Yugoslavia and its successor states
  • Nationalism and state construction
  • Cold War sport
  • Urban history

Dr Mills is interested in supervising undergraduate, MA, and research students in the areas of southeast European history, nationalism and state construction, twentieth century socialism, and the history of sport.


Select Conference Activity:

"'The Russians are coming!' Imperial Decline and the Emergence of a Communist Challenge in Cold War Motorcycle Speedway", BASEES (British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies), Glasgow, UK, April 2023

"Visitng 'Our Slavic Brothers' - Football Club Tours and Soviet-Yugoslav Relations in the Turbulent Cold War Years", Colloque international: Ce que la Guerre Froide a fait au sport mondial / What the Cold War did to World Sport, Centre Nantais de Sociologie (CENS), Nantes, France, March 2023

"The Marshal Tito Cup - Yugoslavia's 'Dearest Trophy'", European Sport in 100 Objects, 25th International Congress of the European Committee for Sports History (CESH), National University of Physical Education and Sports (UNEFS), Bucharest, Romania, September 2022

"Plummeting Down the Andes: The Ignominious End to Hajduk Split’s Politically Charged South American Tour of 1931", Les Quatrièmes Rencontres d’Etudes Balkaniques: Balkans connectés, MuCEM, Marseilles, France, June-July 2022

"‘Burn the Flag!’ – Contestation, Modification, and Destruction in the Football Stadiums of the Former Yugoslavia", Colloque: QU’EST-CE QU’UN DRAPEAU? SOCIO-HISTOIRE DU DÉVOILEMENT POLITIQUE (19E-21E SIÈCLES), University of Western Brittany, Brest, France, November 2021

"Kicking Off in the 'New World': Football, Crises, and Interwar Yugoslav-Latin American Relations", Lord Aberdare Keynote Lecture, British Society of Sports History, St. Mary's University, London, UK, August 2021

"The Politics of Football in Yugoslavia: Sport, Nationalism and the State", Keynote Speech, Football and Politics in Central-Eastern Europe Research Network, University of Warsaw, Poland, January 2019

"'Like Jules Verne's Fantasies': South Slav Footballers, South American Tours, and Yugoslav Politics in the 1930s", Global Yugoslavia, Goldsmiths, University of London, UK, November 2018

The Game of the Peoples? Historical Perspectives on Football in Russia, German Historical Institute, Moscow, Russia, June 2018 

"On the Rocks – Lower League Football and the Internal Complexities of Socialist Yugoslavia in the 1950s", ASEEES (Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies) Annual Convention, Chicago, USA, November 2017

"'The Pitch itself was No-Man's Land': Siege, Zeljeznicar Football Club and the Grbavica Stadium", BASEES (British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies), Cambridge, UK, April 2016

"Cold War Football: Soviet Defence and Yugoslav Attack Following the Tito-Stalin Split of 1948", ICCEES (International Council for Central and East European Studies) 9th World Congress, Makuhari, Japan, August 2015

"Uses of Language as a Signifier of Ethnic Difference in Yugoslav Football Culture", AATSEEL (American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages) Annual Conference, Vancouver, Canada, January 2015

"Football under Siege - The Wartime Game in Bosnia and Hercegovina, 1992-1996", ASEEES (Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies) Annual Convention, Boston, USA, November 2013

"Football Supporters' Groups, Sports Magazines and the Beginning of the End for Socialist Yugoslavia, 1986-1991", BASEES (British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies) / ICCEES (International Council for Central and East European Studies) European Congress, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, UK, April 2013

"Ideological Promotion and Nationalist Suppression: Club Football and the Creation of Socialist Yugoslavia, 1945-1991", Annual Convention of NASSH (North American Society for Sports History), University of California, USA, June 2012

"Fighters, Footballers and Nation Builders: Wartime Football in the Serb-held Territories of the Former Yugoslavia, 1991-1996", Nations and Nationalism Workshop, Scientific Network for the Research of East European Sport History, Prague, Czech Republic, June 2012

"The Role of Football in the Construction and Destruction of Socialist Yugoslavia: 1945-1992", History Research Seminar Series, School of Humanities, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK, April 2012

"'It all broke down in the Maksimir': To what extent did a legendary football stadium riot contribute to the destruction of Yugoslavia?", Seminar Series at the History Faculty, University of Oxford, UK, May 2011

"'It all broke down in the Maksimir': To what extent did a legendary football stadium riot contribute to the destruction of Yugoslavia?", Annual Convention of NASSH (North American Society for Sports History), University of Texas, USA, May 2011

"FK Vojvodina, 'Red Firm' and the Repercussions of the Yogurt Revolution: 1988-1991", Annual Conference of BASEES (British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies), Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, UK, April 2011

Teaching Interests

Level 4:

Introduction to Modern History

The Age of Extremes

Level 5:

The Cold War: A New History (Module Organiser)

Level 6:

Communism and Nationalism in Yugoslavia (Module Organiser)

Twentieth Century Sport History (Module Organiser)


Nationalism and Violence in the Twentieth Century (Module Organiser)

Historical Research Skills

Specialist Reading Tutorials: Cleansing the City




Recent Supervision (Selection)

Undergraduate Dissertations

  • Exclusion in English Football: Racism, Gender and Sexuality
  • Cold War East Anglia: Nuclear Weapons and Public Experience
  • British Media Representations of Josip Broz Tito
  • Superpower Intervention and State Development in the Horn of Africa
  • Stadium Design and the Hillsborough Disaster
  • Lord Harris, Bombay Cricket and the "Civilising Mission", 1890-1895
  • Lowestoft Town FC: A Century on the Edge of Professional Football

MA Theses

  • The Origins of the Paralympic Games
  • The Changing Nature of British Newspaper Coverage of Anglo-German Football Matches, 1954-1996
  • British Print Media Representations of Serbia, 1999-2004
  • Population Decline in Post-Dayton Bosnia and Hercegovina
  • Football, Fans and the State in East Germany

PhD Topics

  • Hardcore Ljubljana - DIY Hardcore Punk in Slovenia during the 1980s
  • Building a Multi-Ethnic Army in Post-War Bosnia and Herzegovina

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions