Manchester, 1840–1919

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.

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254 The emergence of footballing cultures Conclusion By 1919 Manchester was 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, international and representative games had been held there and football was in evidence, being an important component of the region’s identity and ­culture. The sport had crossed class divides

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for sporting origins research which, it is hoped, will be adopted in other regional studies to ensure consistency. The focus here is on the culture of football before 1919 as experienced in Manchester. Manchester provides an important opportunity to study football within a city-­region as a result of its rapid growth, with workers arriving from across the British Isles and mainland Europe. This ensured a regular influx of cultures, ideas and skills, including sporting interests, and helped football to become woven into Manchester’s cultural fabric. The role and

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good moral influence and social control, having a civilising effect on visitors.5 Whether this inspired the local authorities is not evident, but from the 1840s Manchester became one 26 The emergence of footballing cultures of the most active local authorities in providing municipal parks and in 1893 the council established an Open Spaces Committee, followed a year later by a Special Committee to consider the need for public leisure spaces.6 In parks, physical activity was sometimes frowned upon; but in Manchester in 1844 plans for a new public park in Harpurhey

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gained the Arnold scholarship at Balliol and he thought sport was being pushed “to too great an extreme”.’6 His criticism, published in Athletic News, Manchester’s leading sports newspaper, supports Bailey’s view that sporting churchmen remained a rarity at this time.7 72 The emergence of footballing cultures Gambling had helped to generate a thriving sporting c­ ulture – ­pedestrianism was particularly strong in ­Manchester – ­laying the foundation for the later enthusiasm for organised team games. But issues caused by gambling would inevitably be considered a

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centre comprised only 30,000 residents at this time.4 By then Manchester’s population consisted of different occupations, classes, religions, nationalities and cultures and was more representative of Britain as a whole than were cities dominated by a particular industry or ethnic group.5 Football was beginning to give Manchester something positive to focus on collectively following City’s relaunch in 1894 and subsequent Second Division title success in 1899, but the city housed two Football League teams by this time. If one was representing Manchester, then the

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12 The emergence of footballing cultures 1 Folk football and early activity Manchester To understand the role that 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. Today Manchester is known throughout the world primarily for its football. This recognition of Manchester’s footballing culture has developed in the wake of the conurbation’s footballing successes since the beginning of the television era in the 1950s, but the city’s roots go back much

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single facet of historical experience, and that means that one or two mentions of football activity, such as in Manchester Athenaeum’s case, do not imply that this was a fully 40 The emergence of footballing cultures functioning football club.8 ‘Researchers concerned wholly with data-­gathering … ­often seem unable to appreciate the underlying problems’ of this type of research, and this is the case with Manchester Athenaeum.9 Understandably, there is much debate on the style and type of football being played throughout the 1860s at a variety of clubs across the

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240 The emergence of footballing cultures 11 School, work and leisure By 1919 the Manchester region housed multiple leagues and competitions for all ages and there were tournaments for women, developed during the war, with several factory teams such as those representing female railway workers, ironfounders and area munitions works.1 There was a Manchester Ladies Football League which also played representative games and had sought affiliation to the FA. Women’s football was popular even though the footballing authorities were not supportive, and teams such

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further south into Macclesfield, Cheshire (eighteen miles from Gorton) and to Earlstown (sic), based in Earlestown, Newton-­le-­Willows (twenty-­one miles west of Gorton). Of the fourteen teams 124 The emergence of footballing cultures played by Gorton during 1883–84 seven were from Lancashire (all within the Manchester region), four from Cheshire, two from Derbyshire and one from Yorkshire. While none of these teams was further north than Middleton, seven miles north of Gorton, it should be remembered that some areas of the Manchester conurbation were in Cheshire

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