Free Essay on Football

The modern game of football, as we know it is in essence an invention of the 19th century. It is a game that was developed with particular aims in mind. It was these aims; of teamwork, discipline and respectability which defined both the way the game is organised and played. The modern game belongs to the era of the industrial revolution and the time that has passed since.

Its origins are believed to lie from ancient times, it is widely accepted that both the Romans and Greeks [never an ancient Olympic sport] played a game very similar to what today we might identify 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. It was often played on important days of the year; one such case is Shrove Tuesday and local festival days. Sport of all kinds, particularly football was essentially local as opposed to national. It was played to rules set often by the local participants.

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In a world wide perspective, there are those who 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 foot and may 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. Often matches were played to mark important dates of the calendar. Football can also be noted to have existed in Italy, particularly in the city-state of Florence

In regards to England it is known that in the time of Oliver Cromwell the puritans the dominant religious movement of the age banned the game. This sport was classified as unruly and ungodly. It was also banned, as were other forms of entertainment from being played on a Sunday. Nevertheless, despite the efforts of authority it continued to exist in rough form until the advent of industrialisation, 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 the rural to the urban. As the years progressed more and more people left the countryside and went to live in the expanding towns and cities across the country. Though these people had left there, roots behind they did take with them aspects of their culture. One such aspect was sport and in particular football.

Their now emerged a problem. The middle classes who where the driving and decision making force of this society found that they needed a particular type of workforce. They did not need one that was dominated by nature, e.g. whether, seasons etc, but one that was disciplined, complaint, and highly organised, dominated by the clock. The traditional form of football, which these migrants had brought with them, could not be tolerated as it promoted unruliness and ill discipline. It needed to conform to the new way of thinking.

It quickly became obvious to the middle classes that a ban was impossible, as it had failed previously. Therefore, it was concluded that it had to be controlled and organised. It was from the universities and public schools of the country that many of the individuals who were to change the face of the game were from. For many of these establishments had already accepted football as a sport many years earlier.

The Victorian age the era, which witnessed the introduction of the modern game, was superficially religious. In 1851 a religious census was conducted nationwide, this 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. It was to become, especially in towns and cities evangelical, they sort to attract the working class, particularly the young with non-religious activities.

The most prominent activity being sport, and football in particular. It was those men entering the church from the universities and public schools who were the driving force in forming the modern game of football. In the expanding areas of England, particularly in the north and the midlands but not suprisingly London many clubs that are today still in existence were formed. Aston Villa for example were originally linked to a chapel at Aston cross, Birmingham, whilst Birmingham City owe there origins to St Andrews Church, Bordesley, [the ground still today carries that name]. Many others including such footballing giants as Glasgow Rangers and Glasgow Celtic can trace their origins to a similar religious source. The church was thus 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 like West Ham United for example can trace their beginnings to factories in there case the local Hammer works, a large engineering complex [the connection is present today, their nickname being the Hammers].

The many new teams that had sprung up entially were not organised into either 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. Though there were many similarities between the two sets of codes for example marking out a playing area, therefore stopping the chaos of the street game, the differences were often quite basic. In the Sheffield game, no throwing was permitted, 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.

It was at this time that men of vision such as Ebenezer Marley realised that the game could be organised on national level. On Monday, October 26 1863 representatives met at the Freemasons Tavern, London to form the Football Association. This association set up the world’s first organised football structure. One idea that was proposed at this meeting was the starting 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, spectators and clubs alike wanted more games, the friendly and cup games did not satisfy their demands. This wish to further expand led to the worlds first league with structured fixtures, The Football League forming in 1885 Twelve teams entered in this first league, including such famous clubs as Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Derby, Everton and now the lowly Accrington Stanley. It can be noted no southern clubs. The forming of the FA and The Football League also witnessed the ending of the multiple codes. One set of rules came to dominate. So successful was this league structure that less than 10 years later a second division had been formed, including for the first time many from the south. The popularity of the game had reached such a point it had now become professional. The elite players were now paid and the amateur relegated to an almost secondary role, though the amateur game continued to flourish until the early 1970s when the football authorities decided, regardless of status that all players could 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.

The development of the game however was not finished. As the clubs became ever increasingly commercial, dependent upon drawing in paying spectators to exist so they became ever increasingly business like. They became ‘businesses’, often run by local businessmen, who were prepared to part with large amounts of money to obtain 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. It was for an Alf Common that ?1,000 was paid, from Sunderland to Middlesbrough. The game though now national in outlook retained a ‘local’ identity, through its supporters, traditions and often its valued place within its community. Of course with this movement came 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 5-1.

Nevertheless, the game of football had not yet finished developing. 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 suprising that other countries followed suit and created there own leagues, still however sticking to the original football association rules.

The first international game took place in 1888 between England and Scotland, finishing 0-0. In the early 20th century with international games becoming increasingly popular a man named Jules Rimet came up with the idea that football could be the ideal ways 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, the World Cup. Suprisingly the idea was not greeted with much enthusasium, 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 however 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 competion, the World Cup has grown from strength to strength; it is now considered by many to be the number one 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 competed for by countries exclusively from Europe and the Copa America were countries only from South America are allowed to attend.

The game of football had therfore moved from the rural areas of Britain to the entire world. Britain was responsible for the formation of a game that spanned many countries, helping to provide for a worldwide understanding. Indeed Britain’s influence can still be seen even today via the names of many of the worlds greatest club sides. Inter Milan still use the British way of spelling the city as it was originated bt Englishmen. We may no longer rule the game but the rest of the world owes much to vision of those so many years ago.

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