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Origins of Modern Football in England

From Londonhua WIKI

Origins of Modern Football in England (Capstone)

by Christopher Tillotson

Origins of Modern Football in England
Milestone Image
English Amateur Football National Team London, England 1908 [1]


Abstract

This capstone focused on researching the following question: "When and how did modern football come into being in England?". I utilized skills for this capstone that I developed in previous WPI history courses and my previous two research projects. I identified relevant sources and analyzed them to build an understanding of footballs development in England. The main takeaway I had from this capstone was coming to understand that the development of football in England was tied to the country's development.

Introduction


This milestone details the historical origins of football in England. The information presented allows anyone to gain an understanding of how football, a very important part of English culture, came into being. Sports history is a relatively new field tackled in depth by historians, but still many books have been published detailing how football came into being in England. My milestone was unique because it created an original video that gave an overview of the path football development took. In order to complete this capstone I needed to rely on many skills that I have developed in my time studying history at WPI as well as my previous projects in London. These included finding the right sources, a working understanding of a country's development and the resulting effects, and conducting historical analysis.

Section 1: History of Football in England 1300s-1915 (A.D.)


Game Origins

In order to provide an accurate chronology for telling the story of English football there needs to be a distinction of when the sport of football actually originated. For the purposes of this milestone the history will be referred to in two separate sections to avoid confusion. The event that I will use separate these two periods of football history is the creation of the English Football Association, commonly known as the FA, in 1863.[2]

Pre-Association Football


Introduction to Pre-Association Football

It is most difficult to determine an origin of when football, the modern game we know today, truly began. The reason for this comes from how we wish to define the game itself. Ball games have been a part of English culture for hundreds of years, but the first recognizable versions of the game we know today have only arrived recently.[3][4] England is similar to other cultures in the way that sports developed as a recreational activity, and football is no exception. The reason it was unrecognizable up until recently is that every local area in England had it's own version of the game.[5] Some versions had slight similarities but a vast majority included the use of hands, or more closely resembled what would later become rugby.[6]

Football in the Middle Ages

The types of "football" played in this time period only truly share the similarity with modern games in the way that they are played with a ball and are recreational in nature. The term football was coined in 1314 and was played throughout England and parts of mainland Europe.[7] Most of what we know about the sport in this time period comes from colloquial writings. Manson argued that for a large part of the middle ages football was disliked by the public because it took many schoolboy's attentions away from archery.[8]

Buildup to the Football Association

There is no one singular reason for the creation of the Football Association in 1863, but rather a culmination of events and circumstances in England in the years prior. Over time football became something different to different social classes in England. In the 18th century the aristocracy, and landed gentry played the game through public schools.[9] Unlike modern public schools in the U.S. these schools were only attended by the children of aristocrats. This would be the origin of organized football. During the 18th century common people couldn't yet send their children to school, and for this reason something resembling modern pick-up football became the more popular version of the sport.[10]

The common version of football became a nuisance to the people of England for a variety of reasons. The first of these reasons is that "common football" was a very violent game and resulted in injury as well as damage to property.[11] Football was also being played in the streets at this time leading to legislation in the Highway Act of 1835 to be passed by parliament making it illegal to play football in the streets.[12] To say that football was only being played by school aged children would not be true. Football became a part of local cultures and riots would often occur as a result.[13]

As England became swept up in it's industrial revolution railways communication and travel between local areas became more frequent.[14] This would mean that different local versions of football would begin to clash more than ever. Also in the 1840's public schools were made more accessible to the common people beginning to unify the aristocratic, and common versions of the game.[15] The differences in "football" at this time were not a problem at the public school since each institution had their own set of rules. However, one catalyst for common rules for the game came from English universities.[16] When boys got to institutions of higher education the fact that each boy knew a different version of the game became a hindrance to playing "football". Universities, such as Cambridge in 1838, began to draw up common rules for their students to play by.[17] However at this time interscholastic football competition could not be held because of different versions of the game at different institutions.

In 1859 brothers Charles and John Alcock formed the Forest Football Club.[18] This team was comprised of former public school football players who would play against other similar teams in London. Charles would later become the first secretary of the Football Association.[19] Although "football" had become more standardized than ever it became apparent to a group of men in 1863 that a common set a rules was a necessity.[20]

Association Football


Introduction to Association Football

Encyclopedia Britannica describes football in the following manner "Football, also called association football or soccer, game in which two teams of 11 players, using any part of their bodies except their hands and arms, try to maneuver the ball into the opposing team’s goal. Only the goalkeeper is permitted to handle the ball and may do so only within the penalty area surrounding the goal. The team that scores more goals wins."[21] This modern "football" description varies from the original rules of the game drawn up by the Football Association in 1863.[22] However the creation of the football association would pave the way for modern English football, and it is still the governing football body to this day.

A English Game Solidified in a London Pub

On October 26th, 1863 a number of London clubs sent their captains and representatives to a meeting at Freeman's Tavern in Lincoln Inn's Field.[23] The aim of this meeting was to come up with a common set of rules that would allow inter club competition in London.[24] The 12 clubs in attendance consisted of Barnes, Blackheath, Perceval House, Kensington School, the War office, Crystal Palace, Blackheath Proprietary School, The Crusaders, Forest, Subiton, No Names, and Charterhouse School (who would not vote in proceedings).[25] The representative of Barnes named Ebenezer Morley proposed the creation of the Football Association and the vote passed 11 to one.[26] Arthur Pember became the first president, and Charles Alcock became the first secretary.[27] The group met a number of times until they finally decided on a set of rules on December 8th, 1863.[28]

The FA and Other Organizations Unify

By the year 1868 thirty clubs made up the FA, and other football associations were beginning to pop up around England.[29] The other association with arguably as much notoriety as the FA at the time was known as Sheffield. In 1871 the first competition between the FA and Sheffield was held.[30] Then in 1877 the two organizations came together to create a single set of rules.[31] As time would carry on the FA in London gained more and more influence as many other associations desired to join the FA. By the 1880's the FA had grown from a group of clubs to a group of local and county associations.[32]

The FA Cup

The FA cup is to this day Britain's most popular knock out style football competition. The first FA cup was held in 1871-1872 and was won by Charles Alcock's team the Wanderers who beat the Royal Engineers 1-0 in London.[33][34] This cup competition would allow for the FA to grow in stature and influence over the years although initial growth was slow.[35] The first competition in 1872 drew 15 teams to compete, and by 1884 101 teams would enter the contest.[36]

FA Cup Winners 1872-1915[37]
1872 Wanderers 1873 Wanderers 1874 Oxford University 1875 Royal Engineers
1876 Wanderers 1877 Wanderers 1878 Wanderers 1879 Old Etonians
1880 Clapham Rovers 1881 Old Carthusians 1882 Old Etonians 1883 Blackburn Olympic
1884 Blackburn Rovers 1885 Blackburn Rovers 1886 Blackburn Rovers 1887 Aston Villa
1888 West Bromwich Albion 1889 Preston North End 1890 Blackburn Rovers 1891 Blackburn Rovers
1892 West Bromwich Albion 1893 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1894 Notts County 1895 Aston Villa
1896 Sheffield Wednesday 1897 Aston Villa 1898 Nottingham Forest 1899 Sheffield United
1900 Bury 1901 Tottenham Hotspur 1902 Sheffield United 1903 Bury
1904 Manchester City 1905 Aston Villa 1906 Everton 1907 Sheffield Wednesday
1908 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1909 Manchester United 1910 Newcastle United 1911 Bradford City
1912 Barnsley 1913 Aston Villa 1914 Burnley 1915 Sheffield United



The Rise of Professional Football

Like most of the history of football in England it is hard to pin down an exact time or reason why football became a professional sport. The road to professional football happened over the course of a long period of time for a variety of reasons. A date that could be considered as the beginning of professional football in England occurred in 1885 when the FA allowed for clubs to play their players.[38] Traditionally historians such as Manson claim that professional football rose out of a high demand in football interest. On the other hand modern historians such as Taylor claim that the story is not that simple. Taylor argues that it was investments by certain businessmen into professional clubs that really developed the professional game.[39] By the 1900's professional football was on the rise in England and there to stay.

Origins of Selected Football Clubs in London


Introduction

The following three clubs were selected for this milestone to highlight a few of the different ways that football clubs started to develop in the late 19th century. One of the large ways that football clubs developed was from church teams that took off in London. The second major way that clubs developed was through recreational teams formed by workers either through a company in London or as a separate entity set up by the workers.

Fulham Football Club

The Fulham football Club was originally founded by St. Andrews as a church team in 1879.[40] Fulham isn't alone in this regard as many other famous London clubs got their start as church teams. Fulham F.C. slowly transitioned it's way to become a professional club over the years. Then in 1896 Fulham solidified itself as a staple of London football with the opening of a new stadium called Craven Cottage.[41] The team enjoyed great success in the following years as it climbed into England's top division in 1907.[42] Fulham is one of the oldest football clubs in London, and plays in England's second division still at Craven Cottage.

Arsenal Football Club

Arsenal football club was founded in 1886 by a group of munition workers in South London.[43] The club would grow over time into a professional club and would be bought by a man named Henry Norris in 1912.[44] Henry Norris could be considered one of the many investors referred to by Taylor that got professional football off the ground in England. Ever since Arsenal have been a dominant football club in London.

West Ham United Football Club (Previously: Thames Ironworks)

West Ham United was originally founded in 1895 under the name "Thames Ironworks" by the "Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Co. Ltd".[45] The purpose of the club was to provide leisure activity for the workers in order to maintain a peaceful relationship between management and the workers.[46] Five years later in 1900 West Ham United would be founded as a company by Thames Ironworks owner Arnold Hills.[47] They would play in the "Southern League First Division" until the 1915 season was canceled due to Word War I.[48] Today West Ham United is a popular professional football club in London.

Section 2: Deliverable


Introduction

This video tells the story of the origins of football in England from the middle ages up until 1915. It begins with introducing footballs earliest roots and then continues on to describe the conditions and factors that lead up to the creation of the FA in 1864. The videos conclusion details the final pieces falling into place for modern football to develop before recapping the factors that led to footballs development in England.

I chose video for my deliverable of this capstone because of the vast amount of images I found relating to the development of football in the public domain. This allowed me to tell English footballs origin story with visual aid as well as with words. I also chose to use video because of my prior experience producing and editing videos at my town's Local Public Access Television Studio.

Video

The media player is loading...

Note: If the media player is slow a YouTube link to this video can be found here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9x-DUxKRgK8

Video Transcript


"London, England, a hub of English Culture with its vast history, landmarks, and people. Yet England has become synonymous with something that has captivated its people for centuries. That “thing” is called football, and England’s passion for the game is globally well known. But how is it that this game became what it is in England today?

It is most difficult to determine an origin of when football, the modern game we know today, truly began. The reason for this comes from how we wish to define the game itself. Ball games have been a part of English culture for hundreds of years, but the first recognizable versions of the game we know today arrived recently. The term football was coined in the year 1314 and was played throughout England and parts of mainland Europe. However, this football would only bear a slight resemblance to modern football. Each local area in England developed its own local game referred to as football so that many versions of the game existed in this period.

Football would be around in England in it’s different forms, but no substantial progress was made in the sports development until the 1800s. Football was also divided because the aristocracy in England were able to send their children to schools where they would play organized football. Whereas children of commoners developed football as more of a street game until it was banned by Parliament in the Highway Act of 1835.

The reason football developed in the 19th century is due in part to the industrial revolution taking hold in England at this time. Communication was at an all-time high with the introduction of railways. The reason this acted as a catalyst in footballs development is that the isolated versions of football began to meet when people from different areas would play together. This was especially true at universities where boys needed to develop common rules in order to play together.

This need for common rules also appeared when education became more accessible to commoners and organized football began to clash with the commoner’s game in schools. Football clubs were also starting to pop up around England but competition was difficult and required the two opposing sides to either come to a mutual agreement on the rules or to play two matches by each teams preferred set of rules. This need of unified rules became apparent to a group of London football clubs in 1863. This need would be the reason that the Football Association would be founded that very year.

On October 26th, 1863 a number of London clubs sent their captains and representatives to a meeting at Freeman's Tavern in Lincoln Inn's Field. The aim of this meeting was to come up with a common set of rules that would allow inter club competition in London. The 12 clubs in attendance consisted of Barnes, Blackheath, Perceval House, Kensington School, the War office, Crystal Palace, Blackheath Proprietary School, The Crusaders, Forest, Subiton, No Names, and Charterhouse School (who would not vote in proceedings).

The representative of Barnes named Ebeneezer Morley proposed the creation of the Football Association and the vote passed 11 to one. The group met a number of times until they finally decided on a set of rules on December 8th, 1863. However, this set of rules would not be in exact compliance with modern football. It would provide a platform under which England could unify the sport eventually becoming the sport known in England today.

By the year 1868 thirty clubs made up the FA, and other football associations were beginning to pop up around England. However, the FA wasn’t the only football organization at the time, Sheffield being another of note. As time went on the game became closer and closer to the modern game because these other organizations came under the FA as the governing body of football. By the 1880's the FA had grown from a group of clubs to a group of local and county associations.

One of the reasons the Football Association did so well its early years was due to the creation of the FA Cup, a knockout style competition between football clubs. The inaugural FA Cup was held in 1871-1872 and was won by the Wanderers who beat the Royal Engineers 1-0 in London. The first competition in 1872 drew 15 teams to compete, and by 1884 101 teams would enter the contest.

In the 1880’s and 1890’s many clubs were created across England, some of the most prominent of them in London. Due to the games popularity and a number of investors recognizing potential in the game football started to become a professional sport. A great example of this was Henry Norris who bought Arsenal football club in 1912, and transitioned it to the dominant team it remains today. The FA paved the way for ventures such as this in 1885 when they amended their rules to allow for footballers to be paid by their clubs.

At this time football was arguably recognizable as the game England’s people love today. The game would continue to evolve but the groundwork was laid for the modern game. It is important to note upon concluding this story however that football’s development was not the result of mere chance or footballs sheer popularity. Rather football acted as a barometer to England and developed alongside the country.

The industrial revolution brought different people together creating a need to unify the game under a single set of rules. Football was once separated by social class but now it is enjoyed in England by people of all backgrounds. Education drove the game as schools and universities created common sets of rules for its students to play under. Footballs development was caused by many different factors in England, and I came to realize that this only enriches the historical story as well as England's claim to football as "their sport"."

Conclusion


When I began my research for this milestone I had a hunch that I would come to find that footballs development would have been derived from a need for entertainment and mere circumstance. After researching how football developed it's footings in England I began to realize that footballs development was a kind of barometer for England's industrial development, social structure, and educational systems. I came to this conclusion through reading older and more modern interpretations of footballing history in England. The industrial revolution brought different people together creating a need to unify the game under a single set of rules. Football was once separated by social class but now it is enjoyed in England by people of all backgrounds. Education drove the game as schools and universities created common sets of rules for it's students to play under. Footballs development was caused by many different factors in England, and I came to realize that this only enriches the historical story as well as England's claim to football as "their sport". Another avenue of research on this topic would be to continue the story line where I left off and see in what other ways England's issues and situations altered and continue to change the development of the football. I see this project as having been a worthwhile capstone because of the intricate historical narrative that football follows.

References

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