Obituary: English Football 1863 - 2019
English Football: 1836 - 2019
English football died today after a long illness. It is best remembered for inventing the game, codifying the rules and creating a global phenomenon.
Football historians will tell you that the game was most likely played in this country since, at least, the 12th century. King Edward III tried to ban the game in 1363 & Geoffrey Chaucer referenced the game in his Canterbury Tales.
King Henry IV was already worried about money taking over the game, in 1409, when he issued a proclamation forbidding football being used for financial gain. In fact, it was in this very proclamation that we got the first documented use of the word football. Or ‘foteball.’
Fast-forward several centuries & we get to what we know as modern football when the laws of the game were codified in 1863 & the Football Association was formed. These were based on the Cambridge Rules of 1848.
The England national team played Scotland in the world’s first international match in 1872: a 0-0 draw. 16 years later, in 1888, the Football League was established - paving the way firmly for increasing professionalism over the next 50 years.
England hosted (& won) the World Cup in 1966 - giving the nation its proudest sporting moment. The most unifying, at least.
In 1992, the Football Association formed the Premier League and English football was never the same again. Rapidly increasing money from Sky Sports & other sponsors lead to the game changing out of all recognition. It gave up any pretence of being a game of the people to being purely a business.
Since the internet became firmly established and with the rise of social media, the Premier League is now a hugely successful international product.
Sky Sports have created a narrative that only the Top 6 clubs now matter. Match-going fans have been sidelined & other clubs thrown to the wolves.
The EFL are completely ineffective. When 134-year-old Bury FC looked like they were going under on 23rd August, 2019, their response was simply ‘we don’t make the rules - the clubs do.’ Essentially ‘don’t blame us even though we approve these owners & administer the football league.’
But now Bury’s fate looks sealed. A last-minute deal to buy the club collapsed & they are due to be expelled from the football league.
145-year-old Bolton Wanderers look like their days might be coming to an end too.
6 F.A. Cups between them - 279 years of collective history. Generations of largely working-class fans - all gone.
And with them English football.
You will be missed by those that remember what you once were.
English Football - 26th October 1863 - 27th August 2019