Jump to content
The Education Forum

History of Football: A Proposed Course of Study

John Simkin

Recommended Posts

Here is the first part of my proposed course on the history of football:

1. Social Class and the Origins of Football

The students could start the course by looking at the origins of football. The first documentary evidence of football being played is in 1170. It was a game that was played by working-class boys in the towns and peasants in the villages. Football was a constant concern of the authorities. It was first banned by Edward II in 1314. At the time he was trying to raise an army to fight the Scots and was worried about the impact that football was having on the skills of his archers. It seems that most young men took little notice of the order and his father, Edward III, reintroduced the ban in 1331 in preparation for an invasion of Scotland. Henry IV was the next monarch who tried to stop England's young men from playing football when he issued a new ban in 1388. This was ineffective and in 1410 his government imposed a fine of 20s and six days' imprisonment on those caught playing football. In 1414, his son, Henry V, introduced a further proclamation ordering men to practise archery rather than football. The following year Henry's archers played an important role in the defeat of the French at Agincourt.

Edward IV was another strong opponent of football. In 1477 he passed a law that stipulated that "no person shall practise any unlawful games such as dice, quoits, football and such games, but that every strong and able-bodied person shall practise with bow for the reason that the national defence depends upon such bowmen." Henry VII outlawed football in 1496 and his son, Henry VIII, introduced a series of laws against the playing of the game in public places.

Whereas the monarchy objected for military reasons, church leaders were more concerned about the game being played on a Sunday. In 1531 the Puritan preacher, Thomas Eliot, argued that football caused "beastly fury and extreme violence". In 1572 the Bishop of Rochester demanded a new campaign to suppress this "evil game".

After the execution of Charles I in 1649 the new ruler, Oliver Cromwell, instructed his Major-Generals to enforce laws against football, bear-baiting, cock-fighting, horse-racing and wrestling. Cromwell was more successful than previous rulers in stopping young men from playing football. However, after his death in 1660 the game gradually re-emerged in Britain.

However, football amongst the masses was unorganized and was barely tolerated by those in authority. Every so often men were fined in local courts for causing damage and social disorder while playing football.


2. Public Schools and the Development of Football

In the 18th century football was played by most of Britain's leading public schools. There is documentary evidence that football was played at Eton as early as 1747. Westminster started two years later. Harrow, Shrewsbury, Winchester and Charterhouse had all taken up football by the 1750s.

Football rules began to be codified in schools such as Eton (1815) and Aldenham (1825). Other schools such as Rugby, Marlborough, Lancing, Uppingham, Malvern and Cheltenham also introduced football to the school curriculum.

Thomas Arnold was appointed headmaster of Rugby in 1828. He had a profound and lasting effect on the development of public school education in England. Arnold introduced mathematics, modern history and modern languages and instituted the form system and introduced the prefect system to keep discipline. Arnold also emphasized the importance of sport in young men's education. Like most head teachers in public schools, Arnold believed that sport was a good method for "encouraging senior boys to exercise responsible authority on behalf of the staff". He also argued that games like football provided a "formidable vehicle for character building".

In 1848 a meeting took place at Cambridge University to lay down the rules of football. As Philip Gibbons points out in Association Football in Victorian England (2001): "The varying rules of the game meant that the public schools were unable to compete against each other." Teachers representing Shrewsbury, Eton, Harrow, Rugby, Marlborough and Westminster, produced what became known as the Cambridge Rules. One participant explained what happened: "I cleared the tables and provided pens and paper... Every man brought a copy of his school rules, or knew them by heart, and our progress in framing new rules was slow."

After leaving public school players established their own football teams. This included Old Carthusians, Old Etonians, Old Harrovians, Wanderers, etc. These clubs went on to dominate the early years of football.

English public schools also provided most of the players who appeared in the national team. For example, Westminster supplied ten England internationals between 1873 and 1894, whereas Old Etonians won a total of 39 England caps between 1873 and 1903.

The public schools also provided most of the early administrators, including, Arthur Kinnaird, Charles Wreford Brown and Francis Marindin.






3. The FA Cup and Social Class

In 1871, Charles W. Alcock, the FA Secretary, announced the introduction of the Football Association Challenge Cup. It was the first knockout competition of its type in the world. In the 1872 final, the public school team Wanderers beat the Royal Engineers 1-0 at the Kennington Oval.

The Wanderers, based in Battersea in London, went onto win the FA Cup five times in its first seven seasons, between 1872 and 1878. Old Etonians won the cup in 1879 and 1882. Old Carthusians, a team made up of former students at Charterhouse, defeated the Old Etonians in the 1881 final 3-0.

In 1882, Blackburn Rovers became the first provincial team to reach the final of the FA Cup. Their opponents were Old Etonians who had reached the final on five previous occasions. However, Blackburn had gone through the season unbeaten and was expected to become the first northern team to win the game. However, key players were injured and were unable to play. During the game another injury reduced Blackburn Rovers to ten men and they lost the game 1-0.

The following year Blackburn Olympic became the second provincial team to reach the final of the FA Cup. Over 8,000 people arrived at the Oval to watch Blackburn play Old Etonians in the final. Blackburn selected the following team: Thomas Hacking (dental assistant), James Ward (cotton machine operator), Albert Warburton (master plumber and pub landlord), Thomas Gibson (iron foundry worker), William Astley (weaver), John Hunter (pub landlord), Thomas Dewhurst (weaver), Arthur Matthews (picture framer), George Wilson (clerk), Jimmy Costley (spinner) and John Yates (weaver).

Old Etonians were appearing in their third successive FA Cup Final. An example of how the public schools had dominated the competition is that the captain of Old Etonians, Arthur Kinnaird, was playing in his ninth final. Blackburn Olympic won the game 2-1. No public school based team was to win the trophy again.


4. Amateur Football

The Football Association was established in October, 1863. The aim of the FA was to establish a single unifying code for football. The first meeting took place at the Freeman's Tavern in London. The clubs represented were all products of football played in public schools. Percy Young, has pointed out, that the FA was a group of men from the upper echelons of British society: "Men of prejudice, seeing themselves as patricians, heirs to the doctrine of leadership and so law-givers by at least semi-divine right."

The FA insisted that football should remain a sport for amateurs. As Richard Holt and Dave Russell pointed out in the Encyclopedia of British Football: "They wished to create a new sporting elite where an upper-class code of honour could be combined with the middle-class virtues of exertion and competitiveness. Amateurs advocated participation over spectating and adopted an ethical code of sportsmanship, stressing respect for opponents and referees."

In 1871, the FA Cup was introduced. It was the first knockout competition of its type in the world. Only 12 clubs took part in the competition. Once again they were all run by former public school pupils. There were some working class clubs in existence but they did not enter for financial reasons. All ties had to be played in London. Clubs based in places such as Nottingham and Sheffield found it difficult to find the money to travel to the capital. Each club also had to contribute one guinea towards the cost of the £20 silver trophy.

Public school boys had also established football clubs in Scotland, Wales and Ireland. They also formed their own Football Association. Charles W. Alcock, the secretary of the FA, and Arthur Kinnaird, his friend from Cambridge University, who had been born in Scotland, arranged the first international football game to be played on the 30th November, 1872. From this date the England-Scotland match became an annual fixture.

Former public schoolboys lived in industrial areas of Britain. Their families were often owners of local factories or mines. In 1875 John Lewis and Arthur Constantine, who had played football at Shrewsbury School, formed Blackburn Rovers. At first the club was exclusively made up of men with public school backgrounds.






5. Scotland and the Rise of Professionalism

In the 1870s some public school educated factory owners began to consider the possibility of forming football clubs for their workers. There were several reasons for this. Some saw it as a means of publicizing their company. Others saw it as a form of social control. For example, Arthur Hills established West Ham United in response to a trade union dispute. He also used the club to further his temperance campaign.

Blackburn Olympic was established in 1877. Whereas Blackburn Rovers was mainly made up of players who attended public schools, the Blackburn Olympic team largely contained men from the working-class and was funded by Sidney Yates of the local iron foundry. The two clubs played each other on 15th February 1879 but Olympic, now one of the best teams in the country, won 3-1. It was the first sign that the working class was going to dominate football in the future.

Preston North End was originally a cricket club. On 5th October 1878, Preston North End played its first football game. Two years later the club decided to concentrate on football rather than cricket or rugby.

Major William Sudell, the manager of a local factory, became the secretary/manager of the club. Over the next few years Sudell was to create a revolution in football. He decided to improve the quality of the team by importing top players from other areas. Under the rules of the Football Association, Sudell was officially unable to pay these players. Therefore, he arranged to find these players well paid jobs in Preston. He also unofficially paid them a small fee for playing on Saturday. Sudell mainly recruited these players from Scotland. Over the next few years players such as John Goodall, Jimmy Ross, Nick Ross, David Russell, John Gordon, John Graham, Robert Mills-Roberts, James Trainer, Samuel Thompson and George Drummond joined the club. Sudell found these players by watching Scotland’s international games. Other secretary/managers followed Sudell’s example.

The Scottish Football Association responded by announcing it would only select players who played their football in Scotland. However, as they were so much better paid in England they were willing to sacrifice their international careers.

Other teams based in England’s industrial heartlands followed the example of Sudell and began importing Scottish players. This included Derby County, Blackburn Rovers, Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion whereas Aston Villa was virtually formed by two Scotsmen, George Ramsay and Archie Hunter, who had moved to the Birmingham area. They also brought in the Scottish way of playing football. The public schools had pioneered the individualistic “dribbling” game, whereas the Scots invariably came from a trade union background and placed their emphasis on the “passing” game. It is no coincidence that these Scots called it the “combination” system.

Blackburn Rovers decided to appoint a Scotsman, Tom Mitchell, as secretary-manager. These enabled him to recruit the best players available in Scotland and they became the best team in England, winning the FA Cup in 1884, 1885 and 1886.

The Football Association continued to select players who were clearly amateurs to play for England. As a result, England suffered a series of defeats against the better Scotland team.

On 17th March, 1884, the FA selected James Forrest, a 19 year-old player from Blackburn Rovers for the England team against Wales. The following year he was selected to play against Scotland. Scottish officials complained as they argued that Forrest was a professional. It seems they had discovered that he was being paid £1 a week for turning out for his club on a Saturday. Forrest was eventually allowed to play but he had to wear a different jersey from the rest of the team.












6. The Football League

In January, 1884, Preston North End played the London side, Upton Park, in the FA Cup. After the game Upton Park complained to the Football Association that Preston was a professional, rather than an amateur team. William Sudell, the club’s secretary-manager, admitted that his players were being paid but argued that this was common practice and did not breach regulations. However, the FA disagreed and expelled them from the competition.

Preston North End now joined forces with other clubs who were paying their players. In October, 1884, these clubs threatened to form a break-away British Football Association. The Football Association responded by establishing a sub-committee, which included William Sudell, to look into this issue. On 20th July, 1885, the FA announced that it was "in the interests of Association Football, to legalise the employment of professional football players, but only under certain restrictions". Clubs were allowed to pay players provided that they had either been born or had lived for two years within a six-mile radius of the ground.

The decision to pay players increased club's wage bills. It was therefore necessary to arrange more matches that could be played in front of large crowds. On 2nd March, 1888, William McGregor circulated a letter to Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Preston North End, and West Bromwich Albion suggesting that "ten or twelve of the most prominent clubs in England combine to arrange home and away fixtures each season."

John J. Bentley of Bolton Wanderers and Tom Mitchell of Blackburn Rovers responded very positively to the suggestion. They suggested that other clubs should be invited to the meeting being held on 23rd March, 1888.

The following month the Football League was formed. It consisted of six clubs from Lancashire (Preston North End, Accrington, Blackburn Rovers, Burnley, Bolton Wanderers and Everton) and six from the Midlands (Aston Villa, Derby County, Notts County, Stoke, West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers). The main reason Sunderland was excluded was because the other clubs in the league objected to the costs of travelling to the North-East. McGregor also wanted to restrict the league to twelve clubs. Therefore, the applications of Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest, Darwen and Bootle were rejected.

The first season of the Football League began in September, 1888. Preston North End won the first championship without losing a single match and acquired the name the "invincibles". Major William Sudell, had persuaded some of the best players in England, Scotland and Wales to join Preston and replaced Tom Mitchell of Blackburn Rovers as the country’s best secretary-manager.

Preston North End also beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-0 to win the 1889 FA Cup Final. Preston won the competition without conceding a single goal. The club also won the league the following season. However, other teams began to employ the same tactics. Clubs like Derby County, Everton, Sunderland, Aston Villa, and Wolverhampton Wanderers had more money at their disposal and could pay higher wages than Preston. Over the next couple of years Preston lost all their best players and they were never to win the league title again.










Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

The next three sections involve the economics of football:

7. Transfer System

Tom Mitchell of Blackburn Rovers and Major William Sudell of Preston North End showed that to be successful in the FA Cup and the Football League, it was important to buy the best players in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Mitchell and Sudell did this by paying them money for playing for the team. In some cases, they also found them highly paid work in Blackburn and Preston.

On 20th July, 1885, the FA announced that it was "in the interests of Association Football, to legalise the employment of professional football players, but only under certain restrictions". Clubs were allowed to pay players provided that they had either been born or had lived for two years within a six-mile radius of the ground.

Blackburn Rovers immediately registered as a professional club. Their accounts show that they spent a total of £615 on the payment of wages during the 1885-86 season. It was revealed that top players such as James Forrest and Joseph Lofthouse were being paid £1 a week. These top players were unable to move to clubs who were willing to pay them higher wages. Once a player had signed for a club he remained their property. At the end of each season the club could offer them a new one-year contract which the player was bound to accept. The only way to leave the club was to request a transfer. However, the club was allowed to keep the player's registration and refuse a transfer.

In 1893 Jack Southworth was transferred from Blackburn Rovers to Everton for £400. It has been claimed that this was the first-time that money had changed hands between football clubs for a professional player. Southworth went on to score an amazing 36 goals in 31 games for his new club in the 1893-94 season. It was not long before other clubs attempted to buy success in this way.

Manchester United became a force in the transfer market when rich businessman, John Henry Davies, became chairman of this struggling Second Division club in 1902. Ernest Mangnall became the new manager and in 1904 he paid Grimsby Town £600 for 21-year-old Charlie Roberts. Other important signings included Charlie Sagar, Dick Duckworth, George Wall, John Peddie, John Picken, Thomas Blackstock and Alec Bell and within two years United had won promotion to the First Division.

In February, 1905, Middlesbrough, who were in danger of being relegated from the First Division. Thomas Gibson Poole, the chairman of the club, purchased Alf Common from Sunderland for a record breaking fee of £1,000. One journalist described the transfer of Common as "flesh and blood for sale". Another sports writer wrote: "We are tempted to wonder whether Association football players will eventually rival thoroughbred yearling racehorses in the market."

Once again the transfer of Alf Common had the desired impact on the fortunes of the club. On 25th February, Common scored the only goal of the game against Sheffield United. It was Middlesbrough's first away victory for over two years. Common helped to save Middlesbrough from relegation and over the next five years he scored 58 goals in 168 games.

In January 1908, the Football League imposed a £350 limit on the cost of players. This proved ineffective as clubs got round the regulation by doing deals involving the selling of several players together. For example, in order to get £1,000 for their star player, they included two other poorly rated players in the deal. Officially, each one was sold for £350. After a year the league withdrew the regulation.

The chairman of the football clubs began to complain that players were engineering transfers in order the obtain large signing-on fees. For example, Danny Shea received £550 for signing for Blackburn Rovers just before the First World War. In an attempt to reduce transfer activity the Football League altered the rules in 1920 so that players were no longer permitted to receive a share of their fee.

Other transfers worth investigating include Charlie Buchan (1911: £1,200), Danny Shea (1912: £2,000), Percy Dawson (1913: £2,500), Frank Barson (1919: £2,850), David Jack (1920: £3,500), Syd Puddefoot (1922: £5,000), Hughie Gallacher (1925: £6,500), Alex James (1929: £8,750), David Jack (1928: £10,890), Peter Doherty (1936: £10,000), Bryn Jones (1938: £13,500), Stanley Matthews (1947: £11,500), Tommy Lawton (1947: £20,000) and Len Shackleton (1948: £20,000). Students could be asked to discover if these transfers were a success.

8. Player Wages and Trade Unionism

The accounts of Blackburn Rovers show that they spent a total of £615 on the payment of wages during the 1885-86 season. It was revealed that top players such as James Forrest and Joseph Lofthouse were being paid £1 a week.

In 1888 it was reported that Nick Ross was receiving £10 a month after he was transferred from Preston North End to Everton. It is estimated that this was nearly twice that of most top players. By the early 1890s leading clubs such as Aston Villa, Newcastle United and Sunderland were paying their best players £5 a week. When Liverpool won the First division championship in the 1900-01 season their players were on £7, which with bonuses could reach £10.

The Football Association passed a rule at its AGM that set the maximum wage of professional footballers playing in the Football League at £4 a week. This was double what a skilled tradesmen received at this time. At the same meeting they also voted to outlaw match bonuses. To encourage men to play for clubs for some time, players were to be awarded a benefit after five years. It was claimed at the time that this was an attempt the curb the power of the wealthier clubs. This new rule was brought in at the beginning of the 1901-02 season.

As some players had been earning as much as £10, they decided to join Southern League clubs where there were no restrictions on wages. As John Harding pointed out in For the Good of the Game: The Official History of the Professional Footballers' Association (1991) "In effect, the Football League abolished the free market where players' wages and conditions were concerned... there were 'escape routes' to clubs and countries where a player could ply his trade freely and earn a reasonable (indeed, where some Southern League clubs were concerned, highly lucrative) wage.... Southern League clubs began enticing Football League stars to defect with promises of up to £100 signing-on fees."

In 1907 Billy Meredith and several colleagues at Manchester United, including Charlie Roberts, Charlie Sagar, Herbert Broomfield, Herbert Burgess and Sandy Turnbull, decided to form a new Players' Union. The first meeting was held on 2nd December, 1907, at the Imperial Hotel, Manchester.

Herbert Broomfield was appointed as the new secretary of the Association Football Players Union (AFPU). Billy Meredith chaired meetings in London and Nottingham and within a few weeks the majority of players in the Football League had joined the union. This included Andrew McCombie, Jim Lawrence and Colin Veitch of Newcastle United who were to become important figures in the AFPU. The main objective of the AFPU was to get an increase in the maximum wage.

At the 1908 Annual General Meeting the Football Association decided to reaffirm the maximum wage. However, they did raise the possibility of a bonus system being introduced whereby players would receive 50% of club profits at the end of the season.

The AFPU continued to have negotiations with the Football Association but in April 1909 these came to an end without agreement. In June the FA ordered that all players should leave the AFPU. They were warned that if they did not do so by the 1st July, their registrations as professionals would be cancelled. The AFPU responded by joining the General Federation of Trades Unions.

Most players resigned from the union. All 28 professionals at Aston Villa signed a public declaration that they had left the AFPU and would not rejoin until given permission by the FA. However, the whole of the Manchester United team refused to back down. As a result they were all suspended by their club. The same thing happened to seventeen Sunderland players who also refused to leave the AFPU.

Colin Veitch, who had resigned from the AFPU in order to carry on negotiations with the Football Association, led the struggle to have players reinstated. At a meeting in Birmingham on 31st August 1909, the FA agreed that professional players could be members of the AFPU and the dispute came to an end.

After the First World War professional footballers received a maximum weekly wage of £10. In 1920 the Football League Management Committee proposed a reduction to £9 per week maximum. Buchan was one of those who called for the AFU to resort to strike action. However, large numbers of players resigned from the union and the Football League was able to impose the £9 maximum wage. The following year it was reduced to £8 for a 37 weeks playing season and £6 for the 15 weeks close season.

Despite the efforts of the Players' Union, there was no other change until 1945 when the maximum close season wage was increased to £7 per week. Two years later a National Arbitration Tribunal was established. It decided that the maximum wage should be raised to £12 in the playing season and £10 in the close season. The minimum wage for players over 20 was set at £7.

The maximum wage was increased to £14 (1951), £15 (1953), £17 (1957) and £20 (1958). The union argued that in 1939 the footballers' £8 was approximately double the average industrial wage, by 1960 the gap had narrowed to £5 with these figures standing at £20 and £15 respectively.

The players made further wage demands in 1960 and when these were backed by a threat to strike on 14th January, 1961. The Football League responded by abolishing the maximum wage. Johnny Haynes, the England captain, became the first £100 per-week player. However, some clubs such as Liverpool attempted to enforce unofficial wage ceilings. For example, Manchester United paid a maximum wage of £50 a week.

Newcastle United also tried to impose a maximum wage on its players. It also refused to sell George Eastham to Arsenal. The Players' Union took the matter to the High Court and in 1963 Justice Richard Wilberforce declared that the retain-and-transfer system was unreasonable and Newcastle's refusal to sell Eastham had amounted to a "restraint of trade". The following year the "retain" element of retain-and-transfer was greatly reduced, providing fairer terms for players looking to re-sign for their clubs, and setting up a transfer tribunal for disputes.

Students could look at the possibility that trade unionists like Billy Meredith and Charlie Roberts suffered because of their trade union activities. They could also examine the relationship between the average wage in Britain and that of footballers today.

9. Financial Corruption in Football

Accusations of illegal payments, match-fixing and bribing officials and players has taken place since the early days of football being played in Britain. However, very few cases of corruption have resulted in people being punished for these offences.

In January, 1884, Preston North End played the London side, Upton Park, in the FA Cup. After the game Upton Park complained to the Football Association that Preston was a professional, rather than an amateur team. Major William Sudell, the secretary/manager of Preston North End admitted that his players were being paid but argued that this was common practice and did not breach regulations. However, the FA disagreed and expelled them from the competition.

Major William Sudell had great success with Preston North End and won the first Football League championship in 1888-89 without losing a single match and acquired the name the "invincibles". Preston also beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-0 to win the 1889 FA Cup Final. Preston won the competition without conceding a single goal. Preston also won the league the following season. However, in 1894 Sudell was sent to prison for embezzling £5,000 from his employers. He was using this money to fund illegal payments to his players.

In the 1899-1900 season Burnley struggled in the First Division of the Football League. Unless the team beat Nottingham Forest on the final day of the season, they would be relegated. Burnley lost 4-0. After the game, the Nottingham Forest captain, Archie McPherson, claimed that Burnley's goalkeeper, Jack Hillman had tried to bribe his team to lose the game. Hillman was called to appear before the Football Association. The FA refused to believe Hillman's claim that he was only joking and he was banned from football for 12 months. He not only lost a year's wages but a £300 benefit.

In 1902 Newton Heath was £2,670 in debt and faced a winding-up order. At a shareholders' meeting in the New Islington Hall, Harry Stafford, the captain of the side, announced that he and four local businessmen, including John Henry Davies, were willing to takeover the club's debts. The Football League approved the plan and Newton Heath now became Manchester United. Stafford, along with Davies, became a director of Manchester United and James West was appointed as manager. Davies arranged for John J. Bentley to be appointed as president of the club. However, at the end of the 1902-03 season West and Stafford were suspended by the Football Association for making illegal payments to players. In his defence, Stafford claimed: "Everything I have done has been in the interests of the club." Stafford never played professional football again.

In the 1904-05 season Manchester City needed to beat Aston Villa on the final day of the season to win the First Division championship. Villa won the game 3-1 and City finished third, two points behind Newcastle United. After the game Alec Leake, the captain of Aston Villa, claimed that Billy Meredith had offered him £10 to throw the game. Meredith was found guilty of this offence by the Football Association and was fined and suspended from playing football for a year.

Manchester City refused to provide financial help for Meredith and so he decided to go public about what really was going on at the club: "What was the secret of the success of the Manchester City team? In my opinion, the fact that the club put aside the rule that no player should receive more than four pounds a week... The team delivered the goods, the club paid for the goods delivered and both sides were satisfied." This statement created a sensation as the FA had imposed a £4 a week maximum wage on all clubs in 1901.

The Football Association now carried out an investigation into the financial activities of Manchester City. They discovered that City had been making additional payments to all their players. Tom Maley, the manager, was suspended from football for life and City was fined £250. Seventeen players were fined and suspended until January 1907.

Thomas Gibson Poole was chairman of Middlesbrough. Rumours began to circulate that he was involved in illegal activities. The Football Association also carried out an investigation of the club and uncovered book-keeping irregularities including the chairman keeping gate receipts and owing the club money. As Nick Varley points out in his book Golden Boy: "In the manner of these things down the ages, it was settled quietly and all but forgotten until four years later when allegations were made that Boro and Newcastle fixed a match to give the Geordies, preparing for a Cup final, an easy ride. The allegations were not proved, but hardly helped Boro's tarnished image."

On 27th June, 1910, Thomas Gibson Poole appointed Andy Walker as manager of the club. Soon after his appointment, Walker was accused of illegally trying to sign one of his former Airdrie players. Walker was found guilty and banned for four weeks, while the club were fined £100 for the offence.

Thomas Gibson Poole wanted desperately to be the city's member of parliament. However, at that time, the country had a very popular Liberal Party government. Working closely with David Lloyd George, his radical Chancellor of the Exchequer, Herbert Asquith introduced a whole series of reforms including the Old Age Pensions Act and the People's Budget that resulted to a conflict with the House of Lords.

The Conservatives, who had a large majority in the Lords, objected to this attempt to redistribute wealth, and made it clear that they intended to block these proposals. David Lloyd George reacted by touring the country making speeches in working-class areas on behalf of the budget and portraying the nobility as men who were using their privileged position to stop the poor from receiving their old age pensions. After a long struggle with the Lords, Herbert Asquith and the Liberal government finally got his budget through parliament.

A General Election was called to take place on 5th December, 1910. Thomas Gibson Poole was to be the Conservative Party candidate for Middlesbrough in the election. It seemed that Poole was bound to lose as the Tories were seen to be trying to halt the redistribution of wealth that was taking place. Poole became convinced that his best chance of victory would be if Middlesbrough beat Sunderland, the club's bitter rivals, in the Football League game that took place on 3rd December 1910.

On the day of the match, Andy Walker offered Charlie Thomson, the captain of Sunderland, £10 for him and plus £2 for each of the players as long as Middlesbrough won the game. Thompson refused to take the money and reported the conversation to Sunderland's trainer, Billy Williams. Middlesbrough won the game 1-0. However, this result did not have the desired political impact and Poole lost the election by 3,000 votes.

Billy Williams told Fred Taylor, the chairman of Sunderland, what had happened. The matter was reported to the Football League. On the 16th January 1911, Thomas Gibson Poole and Andy Walker were suspended from football for life. Middlesbrough supporters believed that Walker was only following orders and a 12,500 people signed a petition to the Football Association to reconsider his ban. They refused to do this and Walker was forced out of his profession.

At the end of the First World War it was decided to increase the First Division from 20 to 22 clubs. One solution to the problem was to allow the relegated clubs in the 1914-15 season, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, to remain in the First Division. However, Henry Norris, the Arsenal chairman, disputed this idea. Norris, who had just been elected to the House of Commons as a Conservative MP, argued that a great deal of match-fixing had gone on in the 1914-15 season and that league positions should be disregarded. The reason for this was that Arsenal had finished in 5th place in the Second Division in the 1914-15 season and therefore had no grounds for being elected to the First Division.

It was decided to give Chelsea one of the vacant places in the First Division. However, Norris persuaded the league chairman to vote on the other club to join them. Arsenal won the ballot with 18 votes. Spurs only got 8 whereas Barnsley, who finished 3rd in the Second Division in the 1914-15 season, received 5 votes. Many people were of the opinion that Norris had bribed his fellow chairmen in order to win the election.

In 1927 the Daily Mail reported that Henry Norris had made under-the-counter payments to Sunderland's Charlie Buchan as an incentive for him to join Arsenal in 1925. The Football Association began an investigation of Norris and discovered that he had used Arsenal's expense accounts for personal use, and had obtained the proceeds of £125 from the sale of the team bus. Norris sued the newspaper and the FA for libel, but in February 1929 he lost his case. The FA now banned Norris from football for life.

At the end of the 1953-54 season Middlesbrough was relegated to the Second Division. Wilf Mannion refused to sign a new contract with his club and announced his retirement from football. Mannion began work as a journalist with the Sunday People where he wrote a series of articles exposing corruption in football. He claimed that a Football League club had illegally offered him £3,000 to sign for the club. He also added that he was offered extra money for "a job in name only as a salesman". He also told of being offered £15,000 to join Juventus.

In December 1954, Wilf Mannion joined Second Division Hull City for a fee of £4,500. Mannion remarked "I'm happy to be back in the game again. My urge to play again was so great that I happened to be in the mood when approached by Hull." He also admitted that he wanted to join up again with his great friend and fellow rebel, Neil Franklin.

Mannion was now once more under the authority of the Football League and in February 1955 they demanded he reveal the name of the English club that attempted to bribe him to leave Middlesbrough. When he refused he was banned from playing football for life. (Much later Mannion confessed that the club was Aston Villa). The Football League also ordered Middlesbrough not to pay Mannion his accrued benefit money.

Students could be asked to make a list of different reasons why chairman and managers of football clubs became involved in corrupt activities. Do they agree that Thomas Gibson Poole and Andy Walker should both have been banned for life? What do they make of the statement by Wilf Mannion?: "At least my case will serve as a warning to other professional players who try to tell the truth. You can whisper these things in the dressing-rooms; talk of them behind closed doors; but for goodness sake don't let the public know."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

10. Health and Football

One of the main objections to playing football in the middle ages was that it was harmful to the health of the participants. One manor record, dated 1280, states: "Henry, son of William de Ellington, while playing at ball at Ulkham on Trinity Sunday with David le Ken and many others, ran against David and received an accidental wound from David's knife of which he died on the following Friday." In 1321, William de Spalding, was in trouble with the law over a game of football: "During the game at ball as he kicked the ball, a lay friend of his, also called William, ran against him and wounded himself on a sheath knife carried by the canon, so severely that he died within six days." There are other recorded cases during this period of footballers dying after falling on their daggers.

In 1531 the Puritan preacher, Thomas Eliot, argued that football caused "beastly fury and extreme violence". Whereas the Welsh author, George Owen wrote that "the gamesters return home from this play with broken heads, black faces, bruised bodies and lame legs." In his book, Anatomy of Abuses (1583) Philip Stubbs claimed that ""sometimes their necks are broken, sometimes their backs, sometimes their legs, sometimes their arms, sometimes one part is thrust out of joint, sometimes the noses gush out with blood... Football encourages envy and hatred... sometimes fighting, murder and a great loss of blood."

However, there were some people who thought that football was good for the health of young men. Richard Mulcaster, the headmaster of Merchant Taylors' School, wrote in 1581, that football had "great helps, both to health and strength." He added the game "strengtheneth and brawneth the whole body, and by provoking superfluities downward, it dischargeth the head, and upper parts, it is good for the bowels, and to drive the stone and gravel from both the bladder and kidneys."

In the 19th century several people argued that football had the potential to improve the health of the working-classes. In 1881 Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn, MP for Denbighshire, argued: "Much has been said of the British spending their time on drinking... These kinds of sports... keep young men from wasting their time... after playing a good game of football... young men are more glad to go to bed then visiting the public house."

Lionel Holland, a member of the Conservative Party, represented Bromley-by-Bow in the House of Commons. In 1897 Holland argued that football "gave us a whiff of the health and vigour of country life which no other sport could do in the crowded metropolis."

Some doctors disagreed about the health benefits of football. In an article published in The Lancet on 22nd April 1899 it was claimed that playing football posed a serious threat to the long-term health of the participants. The article pointed out that the main danger to health posed by the game was when one player charged another who was trying to head the ball: "To smash cruelly into him and knock him over unnecessarily and perhaps savagely is clearly a brutality which is permitted by the rules."

Archie Hunter who played for Aston Villa between 1878 and 1890, claimed that the health of footballers often suffered because of playing football: "He (Yates) caught a severe cold on the field and died within a few days. That is how so many players collapse. They play in all sorts of weather during the most inclement part of the year; in the struggle they get tremendously hot and if there are not proper provisions for changing their clothes and having a bath, they run the most fearful risk." Hunter himself suffered a heart-attack while playing a game and was forced to retire from football but died soon afterwards at the age of 35.

Students could investigate the historical debate that went on about the health benefits of football. They could also take a look at two headmasters: Richard Mulcaster and Thomas Arnold, who were great supporters of the idea that young boys should play football. Others like Arnold Hills and Anna Connell believed that football would help to stop young men from drinking alcohol.

It was unusual in the 19th century for footballers to die early deaths. Nick Ross was still playing for Preston North End when he died of consumption in 1894. The English international, Tom Bradshaw, died of the same disease on Christmas Day 1899. However, one close friend was convinced that he died as a result of a kick to the head he had received while playing for Liverpool. Bradshaw complained that he suffered terrible pains when he headed the ball. Bradshaw, who was only 26 years old, left a widow and two young children.

Several men have died while playing professional football in Britain. This has included Joseph Powell (1896), Di Jones (1902), Thomas Blackstock (1907), Frank Levick (1908), Bob Benson (1916), John Thomson (1931) and Jimmy Thorpe (1936). Students could examine the evidence to see if these men would have died if these incidents had taken place today.

There is great controversy over the deaths of John Thomson and Jimmy Thorpe. Both men were goalkeepers who suffered from being hit by the feet and shoulders of opposing forwards. This would make a good source exercise as I have included several contemporary accounts of both deaths. Students could also look at how the deaths helped to change the rules protecting goalkeepers.

Stan Cullis, the Wolves and England centre-half was knocked unconscious during a game against Everton in the 1938-39 season. He suffered severe concussion that required intensive medical care. His doctors warned him that another serious concussion could kill him. A couple of years later a tremendous shot hit him in the face. Once again he suffered from severe concussion and was on the danger list for five days. He was warned by a doctor that because of his previous head injuries, even heading a heavy leather football could prove fatal and despite now being England's captain, Cullis decided to retire from playing football. In his later years, Cullis, like many footballers from this period, suffered from dementia. Other former players who have suffered from this disease include Joe Mercer and Bob Paisley. Students could also investigate the theory via the internet that repetitive mild head trauma over the course of an amateur and professional footballer's career may increase an individual's risk of developing dementia in later life.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now
  • Create New...