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Football Question: Birmingham and Liverpool


John Simkin
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Guest Gary Loughran
In the 1879-80 season Birmingham newspapers recorded 811 soccer matches taking place. During the same period Liverpool newspapers recorded only two matches being played in the region. The answer provides an interesting insight into social history.

I can only guess at two reasons.

1. More formal creation of teams in Birmingham through Churches. I'm aware that in Liverpool St. Domingo(a)'s was responsible for the origin of Everton or Liverpool, guess at Everton as the 'Catholic' team

2. Young adults and adults more likely to be migrant and working on the shipbuilding industry around this time in Liverpool.

Both guesses, but typically football has been linked to either workplaces Arsenal, West Ham and Churches eg. Plymouth, Everton for their creation.

I can't develop an insight, more than what commonsense would dictate.

Gary

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In the 1879-80 season Birmingham newspapers recorded 811 soccer matches taking place. During the same period Liverpool newspapers recorded only two matches being played in the region. The answer provides an interesting insight into social history.

I can only guess at two reasons.

1. More formal creation of teams in Birmingham through Churches. I'm aware that in Liverpool St. Domingo(a)'s was responsible for the origin of Everton or Liverpool, guess at Everton as the 'Catholic' team

2. Young adults and adults more likely to be migrant and working on the shipbuilding industry around this time in Liverpool.

Both guesses, but typically football has been linked to either workplaces Arsenal, West Ham and Churches eg. Plymouth, Everton for their creation.

I can't develop an insight, more than what commonsense would dictate.

Gary

A clue. Trade Unions.

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Guest Gary Loughran
In the 1879-80 season Birmingham newspapers recorded 811 soccer matches taking place. During the same period Liverpool newspapers recorded only two matches being played in the region. The answer provides an interesting insight into social history.

I can only guess at two reasons.

1. More formal creation of teams in Birmingham through Churches. I'm aware that in Liverpool St. Domingo(a)'s was responsible for the origin of Everton or Liverpool, guess at Everton as the 'Catholic' team

2. Young adults and adults more likely to be migrant and working on the shipbuilding industry around this time in Liverpool.

Both guesses, but typically football has been linked to either workplaces Arsenal, West Ham and Churches eg. Plymouth, Everton for their creation.

I can't develop an insight, more than what commonsense would dictate.

Gary

A clue. Trade Unions.

Could the industrialisation etc. meant that as Trade Unions rose in the area they formed leagues - "the Birmingham Iron Workers and whatever" amateur league. Thus giving a formal base for competetive football. I do note that Villa were one of the founders of the FL and I believe they were a church derived team.

Somehow this didn't happen in Liverpool. No idea why? I do know in the mid 19 Century Liverpool had one of the lowest life expectancy rates at 26.

I also suspect the democratic socialism (Liberals??) involved in Trade Unionism also ensured better distribution of wealth and housing in the areas they formed.

Close? This is harder than murder mysteries and I'm trying desperately not to go Google on it.

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In the second-half of the 19th century trade unions fought to have Saturday afternoon off. This allowed them to play and watch football. Birmingham trade unions were very strong and by 1879 most of them worked to only 1.00 pm. Liverpool had a high proportion of non-unionised, casual workers who were forced to work a 6 day week. Therefore there were not enough men to play and watch football in Liverpool.

The first trade to get Saturday afternoon off was the textile industry. That is why the textile towns dominated the early First Division championship. However, it was not until 1883 that Blackburn defeated the Old Etonians in the FA Cup Final. Every cup final until then had been won by a public-school based club. They were never to win another final.

Working class people were stopped from playing football in the early part of the 19th century. The tradition was in fact protected by the public schools who took it to the masses in the 1880s (they thought it would help industrial discipline). Arnold Hills, the first owner of West Ham United, was a member of the Old Harrovians and in 1879 won an international cap in England's 5-4 victory against Scotland (at the time only amateurs could play international football). The first professional to play for England was forced to play in a different colour shirt to the rest of the team (blue instead of white).

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