The origins debate – how soccer triumphed over other forms of team sports in Manchester

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Manchester’s Footballing Pioneers, 1863–1904: A Collective Biography

ABSTRACT: Association football had become a prominent part of Manchester’s sporting landscape by 1904 when Manchester achieved its first national success. Its journey had been difficult, relying on the efforts of several key individuals whose relentless determination to widen the sport’s participation ensured the game succeeded. This paper provides an analysis of three pioneering figures, John Nall, Fitzroy Norris, and Joshua Parlby, who took the game from its formalized inception in the region through to its first national successes, considering their class, experience, shared history, and connections, while analyzing what these narratives add to the wider origins of football debate. The author concludes that football’s emergence depended primarily on the activities of key individuals from varying backgrounds who provided the energy, enthusiasm, and organizational structures necessary, while relying on cross-class connections, to establish the game within a region.

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The Origins of School Football Associations: Manchester as a Case Study


Abstract

This paper will focus on the origins and subsequent development of school football in Manchester and its surrounding conurbation between 1880 and 1919. Archival evidence, drawing mainly on the Manchester Schools Football Association (MSFA) collection, will be used to chronicle the expansion of organized competition and sporting opportunities. It will demonstrate that football’s growth in Manchester’s education system owed much to dedicated teachers who encouraged participation at their own schools and organized inter-school competitions. Association football became prominent right across Manchester as young teachers, most notably George Sharples, encouraged pupils to play, leading to a widening of participation and interest that helps to explain how Manchester transitioned from a rugby to a soccer city. Also discussed is the important role of the Manchester and Salford Playing Fields Society (MSPFS) which assisted the game’s growth in schools and amongst schoolchildren more generally by making suitable fields and pitches available. Without the Society’s efforts facilities may have been insufficient to satisfy growing demand at a critical point in soccer’s development.

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Establishing women in sports history: Manchester City Football Club

ABSTRACT

This paper provides an overview of an oral history project focusing on the experiences of female footballers, in particular those playing for Manchester City Women since its formation as a community initiative in 1988, through to its modern-day position as a leading Women’s Super League club. It discusses the development of the project, analysis of the methodology employed and provides high-level findings on the club’s history, the participants and the research process. For too long female participation, even at England’s most famous clubs, has not been widely recognised, reported on or understood. This project, supported by a professional football club, begins to address these omissions. It does so by focusing on personal testimonies, together with archive material to generate an historical account of how a team, established as a community initiative, developed into a major trophy-winning club.

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FA Cup success, football infrastructure and the establishment of Manchester’s footballing identity

ABSTRACT: Contemporary Manchester is recognized internationally as a footballing city, with both Manchester United and Manchester City acknowledged as prominent clubs. However, the city has not always been a force in the game, nor has the game always been important across Manchester’s social spectrum. This paper examines how Manchester first became established as a footballing city, identify- ing that success in the FA Cup in 1904 stimulated interest in the game and con- siders how the legacy of that victory enabled the game to develop in terms of participation and spectating. It also considers the social mix of attendees at pro- fessional games in the city, and closes by concluding that footballing success generated increased interest and was the catalyst for improvement in the infra- structure for both participation and attendance, enabling Manchester’s footballing identity to become established.

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The Emergence of an Association Football Culture in Manchester 1840–1884

Over the coming weeks I’ll be posting my academic articles here for subscribers to my blog. In the meantime, here’s a link to one, first published in 2014, that is currently free to access on the publisher’s website:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17460263.2013.873075?src=recsys

Historical Frameworks and Sporting Research

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Sport History Relevance and How We Need to Engage

ABSTRACT

It is important to question the relevance of sport history and to recognize our failings and our successes if we are to ensure the genre develops and contributes to society. While sport historians recognize the value, outside of this sphere, it is apparent that the subject is not always recognized for its significance. In this paper, it is argued that sport historians have a responsibility to engage more with the media and the public, while seeking opportunities to collaborate with sports organizations to ensure the subject is relevant and can develop. It is also argued that minority groups are under-represented in the sport history community, arguing that it is incumbent upon sport historians to ensure greater engagement and promotion of these groups. The paper concludes by urging those engaged in sport history to promote the discipline and develop opportunities for others.

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Manchester A Football History – Coming soon

Starting on Saturday 9th January I’ll be posting a chapter each day from the 2010 edition of Manchester A Football History here. These will be available to subscribers to this site with one section posted each day for 35 days.

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Frank Swift

Swift, Frank Victor (1913-1958), footballer and journalist was born in Blackpool, Lancashire on 26 December 1913, the second son of five children.  From his earliest memories, he was always obsessed with the game of football, playing at every opportunity with his brothers, one of whom, Fred, became first team goalkeeper for a variety of clubs, most notably Blackpool, Oldham Athletic and Bolton Wanderers.

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