This chapter summarises the processes and issues encountered during the development of Manchester’s football culture. It outlines the significance of regional studies in the debates surrounding the origins of football and demonstrates how the book documents the development of the game, and the society and communities that supported and propagated the sport. By 1919 Manchester had become regarded as a footballing city with two prominent, popular and successful Football League clubs bearing its name, and other professional teams established within its conurbation. It had its own football association and a multitude of leagues and competitions at every level. Major finals had been held in the conurbation, while international and representative games had been staged there. Football was evident across Manchester and was an important component of regional identity and culture. The sport had crossed class divides. The chapter argues that long-range thinking allows us to see patterns and cycles within Manchester’s footballing development, ensuring that events and individual moments are considered for their connections and not for how brightly they shine at one particular moment in time. This book concludes that in a city so well known for football, it is still vital to focus on both the detail and the patterns in order to ensure that we recognise the truth of a region’s history.
The growth of football in Manchester saw clubs such as Manchester Football Club, the ‘absolute pioneers’ of rugby in the region, established in 1860, with several other clubs also being founded, mostly in the then wealthier residential areas of the conurbation, such as Broughton, Didsbury, Sale, Whalley Range and Old Trafford. The prominent members of these clubs appear to have been from the upper class or from respected middle-class occupations, and many were former public school boys. The major focus of this chapter is a detailed analysis of Hulme Athenaeum and its development as an association football club. This informs a discussion on the influence of class, public schools and communities on the propagation of the sport. When considering longue durée thinking, it is evident that Hulme Athenaeum’s influence was felt from 1863 through to the establishment of the Manchester County Football Association in the mid-1880s and on to the professional game. Manchester’s first trophy successes came at a time when John Nall, Hulme’s first football secretary in 1863, was still an active member of the conurbation’s footballing community.
This book provides a distinctive and original contribution to the historiography of sport, adding considerably to our understanding of the origins of soccer within the Manchester region. It is the first academic study of the development of association football in Manchester and is directly linked to the debates within sports history on football’s origins. Its regional focus informs the wider debate, contextualising the growth of the sport in the city and identifying communities that propagated and developed football. The period 1840–1919 saw Manchester’s association game develop from an inconsequential, occasionally outlawed activity, into a major business with a variety of popular football clubs and supporting industries. This study of Manchester football considers the sport’s emergence, development and establishment through to its position as the city’s leading team sport. What establishes a football culture and causes it to evolve is not simply the history of a few clubs, governing bodies, local leagues or promoting schools, but a conglomeration of all of these. The book is innovative in its approach to the origins of footballing in Manchester, where the sport has generally been assumed not to have existed until the creation of what became Manchester City and Manchester United.
This chapter begins the analysis of football in Manchester by setting the scene. It discusses the development of the city and the impact of sport in the city’s formative years, including the early versions of football played, and banned, within the region. By the nineteenth century the demand for leisure activities had increased alongside the city’s growth. Despite being officially banned, bear-baiting and cock-fighting continued, while horse-racing, pugilism, pedestrianism and other sports suitable for gambling increased, generating a thriving sporting culture across the city and laying the foundations for the subsequent enthusiasm for organised team games, such as cricket and football. To understand the role football plays in Mancunian life it is first important to appreciate how the city and its surrounding area evolved, and how sport took a hold of the region.
This chapter highlights the growth of the professional game and supporting industries. The establishment of the Football League in 1888 had provided the conurbation’s clubs with examples of what could be achieved, and during the period considered in this chapter Manchester’s football clubs became more business-like, focusing on national competition and increased income. The first steps towards establishing soccer as a key component of Mancunian life were taken, while the relaunch of Ardwick as Manchester City demonstrated how the sporting landscape of the conurbation was moving towards one that would be recognisable to a modern audience. Considering Manchester City’s history in longue durée terms, the club became established in its present form in 1894 as a club to represent Manchester. Over several transformational periods it grew, found success, suffered hardships, moved twice and changed ownership, but it remains in essence the same football club performing its same role in Manchester society as it has always done.
This chapter considers how Manchester’s footballing culture developed during the 1870s, analysing and interpreting the communities that became established in Manchester, how they developed the sport and what their influences were. It considers changes in the Manchester environment where, during the decade of Hulme Athenaeum’s existence, the population had increased to over 400,000 by 1871, exacerbating existing problems such as overcrowding in slum areas. The problems were those of a big commercial city, and polluted Manchester epitomised all that was socially bad in the effects of the Industrial Revolution. This chapter highlights the continuing influence of individuals such as Fitzroy Norris, who established Manchester’s second prominent association football club, Manchester Association, and remained a member of the footballing community for the rest of his life.
This chapter considers the establishment of multiple clubs across the conurbation at a time when Manchester had emerged as a modern, essentially metropolitan city, with a relatively compact city borough surrounded by a ring, stretching some twelve miles from the centre, containing a complex polycentric mix of districts and towns. The city’s influence stretched some distance beyond its boundary. Manchester’s footballing community had grown by 1878 but was still somewhat smaller than its rugby equivalent, but within a decade the profusion of so many soccer clubs in the east Manchester area aided the establishment of viable fixture lists for multiple clubs. This period saw the development of the clubs and a viable community, but competition remained too flexible.
This chapter explores the first defining moment in Mancunian football, the 1904 FA Cup success, and its impact on the city’s footballing culture, considering how Manchester’s footballing identity became established during this period. Manchester City established a successful sporting heritage for the city at a time when those connected with Newton Heath recognised the significance of utilising the Manchester name. The identity of Manchester’s football clubs became fixed at this time as Newton Heath became Manchester United. Success helped to establish civic pride and marked a turning point in the way the game was viewed locally and, as a result, Manchester started the process of becoming established as a major centre for the game at all levels. Manchester became a footballing city.
This introductory chapter discusses the debates existing within the academic community on football’s origins, class issues and the role of football within a developing city such as Manchester. Manchester provides a unique opportunity to study the development of football within a conurbation. whose rapid growth and influx of cultures, ideas and skills, including sporting interests, helped football to become woven into the cultural fabric of Greater Manchester. The successes of Manchester United and Manchester City have given global exposure to the city and associated it with footballing glory. Association football has become central to Mancunian life and the sport has established perceptions of Manchester, its image and power on a global scale. Using a longue durée framework this work analyses Manchester’s footballing activity through to 1919, by which time the city was regarded as a footballing conurbation. The themes, cycles and events highlighted provide evidence of the game’s transition within a major conurbation. The chapter also explains the research methodology employed, which has been influenced by the work of historian Fernand Braudel.
Across the Manchester conurbation discussions were occurring during the early 1880s on how the city’s soccer playing community could strengthen. This chapter discusses how the growing network of clubs, players and enthusiasts established a regional structure. It focuses on the development of the Manchester County Football Association and the establishment of local competitions, following the aborted attempt to establish a Manchester–Staffordshire Football Association in 1876. The development of a regional football association aided the growth of soccer in Manchester but by 1894 it was still claimed that rugby football was more popular among the working classes of the city than any other sport. Association football was still some way off becoming Manchester’s leading team activity across the population, even though it had developed at pace between 1878 and 1892.