History of Football Essay example:
The modern game of football, as we know it, is in essence an invention of the 19th century. The game was developed with particular aims in mind: specifically, teamwork, discipline and respectability, which defined both the way the game is organized and played. The modern game belongs to the era of the industrial revolution, and the intervening time.
Its origins are believed to lie in ancient times: it is widely accepted that both the Romans and Greeks – although it was never an ancient Olympic sport – played a game very similar to what today might be identified as ‘football’. However, this game was very violent and was viewed almost as a test of bravery. Actions such as hacking, punching, and generally assaulting the opponent were accepted as part and parcel of the game.
There are indications that the game existed in Britain in the 12th century. Here the game was a crude street game. The ball would be kicked and chased by groups of youngsters egged on by their parents. This form of the game often involved two hundred or more participants, always male. This type of football was entirely based within rural communities, and was often played on important days of the year, such as Shrove Tuesday and local festival days. Sport of all kinds, particularly football, were essentially local rather than national. It was often played to rules set by local participants.
In a worldwide perspective, some believe that an early version of the game, played with the bladder of a pig, existed in China as long ago as 2500 BC. Here the ball is believed to have been kicked between poles as high as thirty feet, and might have served a military purpose, for example, the training of warriors. By AD 50, the Chinese had named this game ‘tsu chu’ and early records compare the ball and square goal to Yin and Yang, the ancient symbols of harmony. Matches were frequently played to mark important dates of the calendar. There is evidence that football might also have existed in Italy, particularly in the city-state of Florence
As far as England is concerned, it is known that in the time of Oliver Cromwell, the Puritans – the dominant religious movement of the age – banned the game because it was considered unruly and ungodly. It was also banned, as were other forms of entertainment, from being played on a Sunday. Nevertheless, despite the efforts of authorities, it continued to exist in a rough form until the advent of industrialization, around the year 1750.
From this time onwards, at an ever-increasing pace, British society underwent a dramatic and fundamental change. The focus of work changed from rural to urban. As the years progressed, more and more people left the countryside to live in the expanding towns and cities across the country. Though people left their roots behind, they did take with them aspects of their culture, one of which was sport, and in particular football.
A problem emerged at this time. The middle classes, the driving and decision-making force of this society, found that they needed a particular type of workforce. They did not need one dominated by nature, that is, by the seasons and other recurring breaks, but a society that was disciplined, compliant, and highly organized, chiefly dominated by the clock. The traditional form of football, which these migrants had brought with them, could not be tolerated, because it promoted unruliness and shoddy discipline. It needed to conform to the new way of thinking.
It quickly became obvious to the middle classes that a ban was impossible, since it had failed previously, so it was concluded that it had to be controlled and organized. From universities and public schools of the country, many individuals emerged who were to change the face of the game, because a great number of these establishments had already accepted football as a sport many years earlier.
During the Victorian age, the society that witnessed the introduction of the modern game was superficially religious. In 1851 a religious census was conducted nationwide, which revealed that many of the working class did not attend church regularly. In an effort to rectify this situation, the church, especially the Church of England, adopted a radical new idea. In towns and cities throughout the kingdom, they sought to attract the working class, particularly the young, to non-religious activities.
The most prominent activity was sport, and football in particular. Men entering the church from universities and public schools were the driving force in forming the modern game of football. In the expanding residential estates of England, particularly in the north and the Midlands, but also not surprisingly in London, many clubs that are today still in existence were formed. Aston Villa, for example, was an association originally linked to a chapel at Aston Cross, Birmingham, whilst Birmingham City owe their origins to St Andrews Church, Bordesley, where the ground still carries that name to this day. Many others, including such footballing giants as Glasgow Rangers and Glasgow Celtic, can trace their origins to a similar religious source. The church became, in this way, a vital part in the development of the game. Alongside this movement, there were also individuals who sought to boost the morale of their workforce. These factory-owning industrialists saw the game as a means of disciplining their workforce. Teams such as West Ham United can trace their beginnings to factories. In this particular case, the local Hammer works, a large engineering complex, and the connection is present today, their nickname being the Hammers.
The many new teams that sprang up initially were not organized into any sort of league or fixture structure, and were not controlled by a common set of rules. The northern clubs mainly followed the Sheffield code, while many of the southern and midlands clubs adopted what became known as the London rules. Although there were many similarities between the two sets of codes, for example marking out a playing area, which stopped the chaos of the street game, the differences were often quite basic. In the Sheffield game, no throwing was permitted, and if a ball left play it was to be kicked back in. The London rules took the opposite view.
The game expanded to such an extent that many clubs broke their association with the church and became self-reliant. The majority were soon set upon the path of independence, run by and for the working class. As the game continued to grow in popularity, it began a new phase of development: that of a source of great entertainment, drawing paying spectators.
At this time, men of vision such as Ebenezer Marley, realized that the game could be organized on national level. On Monday, October 26 1863, representatives met at the Freemasons Tavern in London, to form the Football Association. This association set up the world’s first organized football structure. One idea that was proposed at this meeting was the commencement of an annual cup competition. This came to fruition in 1871, when 15 clubs first competed for the famous FA Cup.
This was not enough for many, however, because spectators and clubs alike wanted more games, and the friendly and cup games did not satisfy their demands. This wish to further expand led to the world’s first league with structured fixtures, called the Football League which was formed in 1885. Twelve teams entered this first league, including such famous clubs as Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Derby, Everton and the now insignificant Accrington Stanley. It can be noted that no southern clubs belonged to this first raft. The forming of the FA and the Football League also witnessed the end of multiple codes. One set of rules came to dominate. So successful was this league structure, that less than ten years later, a second division was formed, including for the first time many from the south.
The popularity of the game reached such a high standard it turned professional. The elite players were now paid and the amateurs relegated to an almost secondary role, although the amateur game continued to flourish until the early 1970s, when the football authorities decided that all players, regardless of status, would be paid. From this time, the game was dominated by the large, well-supported, wage-paying clubs, such as Blackburn Rovers, Preston North End, and West Bromwich Albion.
Development of the game was nowhere near finished. As the clubs became increasingly commercial, depending on drawing in paying spectators to exist, they became progressively more businesslike. They became ‘businesses’, often run by local businessmen, who were prepared to part with large amounts of money to sign up the best players. The transfer fee quickly became a feature of football. Indeed, it was in 1905 that the first player to cost a four-figure sum figured in the history of the game. £1,000 was paid for Alf Common to be transferred from Sunderland to Middlesborough. The game, although now national in outlook, retained a ‘local’ identity, through its supporters, its traditions, and its valued place within its community. This movement brought with it the hooligan. Fans, then as now, were known to misbehave. The first recorded instance of hooliganism is believed to have occurred in 1885, after a match where PNE defeated Aston Villa five goals to one.
The game of football had not yet finished developing at this point. It was still to witness a move into the international arena, at both club and international levels. With the game booming across Britain, it was perhaps not surprising that other countries followed suit and created their own leagues, adhering however to the original football association rules.
The first international game took place in 1888, between England and Scotland, finishing in a goal-less draw. In the early 20th century, with international games becoming increasingly popular, a man named Jules Rimet came up with the notion that football could be the ideal way for opposing nations to compete in a friendly situation. His idea was that every four years a tournament would be held to determine which country was the best at football, and it would be called the World Cup. Surprisingly, the idea was not greeted with much enthusiasm, and at the first World Cup, held in Uruguay, only eight teams participated.
England, who were asked to go, refused, believing it to be of no importance. The tournament r continued regardless, and the hosts Uruguay were crowned the greatest side in the world, after conquering Brazil in front of over one hundred thousand people in Montevideo. Since this inaugural competition, the World Cup has grown from strength to strength. It is now considered by many to be the most significant sporting event in the world. So popular have such international tournaments proved, that many continents have formed their own competitions. The European Championships, for example, which are contested by countries exclusively from Europe, and the Copa America, where countries only from South America are allowed to participate.
In this historic way, the game of football moved from the rural areas of Britain to the entire world. Britain was responsible for the formation of a game that spanned and engaged many countries, helping to provide a worldwide understanding. Britain’s influence can still be seen today, in the names of many of the world’s greatest club sides. Inter Milan, an Italian team, still use the British way of spelling the name of their city, since it was originated by Englishmen. Britain might no longer rule the game, but the rest of the world owes much to the vision of those instigators and inventors, so many years ago.
Mark Sanders – 3/25/2011