Category: Changing Times

Mud, Poor Pitches and the FA Cup

The state of the playing surface – and specifically, mud – has been a concern of English football since its earliest days. Many clubs spent their formative years using makeshift pitches on public or private land, in conditions which did not encourage ‘the beautiful game’. Even by 1888 and the founding of the Football League,…

By Paul W January 9, 2021 2

Festive Football in Great Britain

Festive football was a tradition of the British game, introduced even before the very first seasons of the league. While Boxing Day (St Stephen’s Day) fixtures continue to the current era, Christmas Day matches fizzled out in England during the late 1950s and lingered a few years longer in Scotland. Britain’s last Christmas Day football…

By Paul W December 26, 2020 2

Old Trafford: The Football League on Film

Manchester United’s world-famous Old Trafford stadium was opened in February 1910, laid out by Archibald Leitch as “a palatial ground”. The stadium suffered bomb damage in the Second World War and only re-opened in 1949. As location filming expanded in the post-War years, various grounds were used as a setting for football-related feature films. Old…

By Paul W November 21, 2020 0

English Winners of the European Cup

Manchester United became the first English winners of the European Cup when they defeated Portuguese champions Benfica 4-1 at Wembley in May 1968. It was an emotional triumph for manager Matt Busby and players Bill Foulkes and Bobby Charlton, all survivors of the Munich air disaster of 1958, which had robbed English football and United…

By Paul W May 30, 2020 0

Burnden Park, Bolton: The Football League on Film

Delving into the Football League’s past through film and television, this occasional series features football grounds caught on camera. Following last week’s look at a match from Bolton Wanderers’ history, I start at their former home of Burnden Park. Mitchell and Kenyon, Blackburn-based early film pioneers of the late Victorian era, had begun shooting scenes…

By Paul W November 9, 2019 0

The Days of Cricketing Footballers

On the eve of the 2019 Ashes series, I look back at the days of cricketing footballers, today a rare breed but a phenomenon which enjoyed a ‘golden age’ from the late nineteenth century. The giant of Victorian cricket, Dr W.G. Grace, was also a keen footballer who appeared for the Wanderers; Grace later became…

By Paul W July 31, 2019 2

Trevor Brooking and One-Club Men

On May 14, 1984, Trevor Brooking played his final game for West Ham United, the club he represented for his entire Football League career. Signed as an apprentice by manager Ron Greenwood on the recommendation of legendary scout Wally St Pier, he made his debut in August 1967 and ended up with a total of…

By Paul W May 14, 2019 0

John Sitton – A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing

John Sitton’s autobiography is a compelling, at times painfully honest, account of life at the sharp end of the Football League, in an era completely removed from today’s multi-million-pound business. If you’re familiar with his name, it’s more than likely through the YouTube clips taken from a 1995 Channel 4 documentary on Leyton Orient, where…

By Paul W February 9, 2019 2

Denis Law and FA Cup Goalscorers

In a January 1961 FA Cup Third Round tie, Denis Law scored six goals for Manchester City against Luton Town. It would have set a record for the competition, but unfortunately the game was abandoned after 69 minutes, with City leading 6-2. Luton won the re-arranged game 3-1, though Law scored again for City. There…

By Paul W January 26, 2019 0