The History of English football is a long and detailed one. England was the first country where the game was developed and codified. The modern global game of Football was first codified in 1863 in London. The impetus for this was to unify English public school and university football games. There is evidence for refereed, team football games being played in English schools since at least 1581. An account of an exclusively kicking football game from Nottinghamshire in the 15th century bears similarity to football. England can boast the earliest ever documented use of the English word "football" (1408) and the earliest reference to the sport in French (1314). England is home to the oldest football clubs in the world (dating from at least 1857), the world's oldest competition (the FA Cup founded in 1871) and the first ever football league (1888). For these reasons England is considered the home of the game of football.
Main article: Medieval football
Football's roots in England has been found in Medieval football, which was played annually on Shrovetide. It is suggested that this game was derived from those played in Brittany and Normandy, and could have been brought to England in the Norman Conquest. These games were violent and largely ruleless. As a result, they were often banned.
England is the origin of nearly all first accounts of features of football:
In 1280 comes the first account of a kicking ball game. This happened at Ulgham, near Ashington in Northumberland, in which a player was killed as a result of running against an opposing player's dagger. This confirms that by the 13th century kicking ball games were being played in England.
In 1314, comes the earliest reference to a game called football when Nicholas de Farndone, Lord Mayor of the City of London issued a decree on behalf of King Edward II banning football. It was written in the French used by the English upper classes at the time. A translation reads: "[f]orasmuch as there is great noise in the city caused by hustling over large foot balls [rageries de grosses pelotes de pee] in the fields of the public from which many evils might arise which God forbid: we command and forbid on behalf of the king, on pain of imprisonment, such game to be used in the city in the future."
In 1409 King Henry IV of England gives us the first documented use of the English word "football" when issued a proclamation forbidding the levying of money for "foteball".
At the end of the 15th century comes the earliest description of a football game. This account in Latin of a football game contains a number of features of modern football and comes from Cawston, Nottinghamshire, England. It is included in a manuscript collection of the miracles of King Henry VI of England. Although the precise date is uncertain it certainly comes from between 1481 and 1500. This is the first account of an exclusively "kicking game" and the first description of dribbling: "[t]he game at which they had met for common recreation is called by some the foot-ball game. It is one in which young men, in country sport, propel a huge ball not by throwing it into the air but by striking it and rolling it along the ground, and that not with their hands but with their feet ... kicking in opposite directions" The chronicler gives the earliest reference to a football field, stating that: "[t]he boundaries have been marked and the game had started.
In 1526 comes the first record of a pair of football boots occurs when Henry VIII of England ordered a pair from the Great Wardrobe in 1526. The boots are no longer in existence.
In 1581 comes the earliest account of football as an organised team sport. Richard Mulcaster, a student at Eton College in the early 16th century and later headmaster at other English schools provides the earliest references to teams ("sides" and "parties"), positions ("standings"), a referee ("judge over the parties") and a coach "(trayning maister)". Mulcaster's "footeball" had evolved from the disordered and violent forms of traditional football:
- [s]ome smaller number with such overlooking, sorted into sides and standings, not meeting with their bodies so boisterously to trie their strength: nor shouldring or shuffing one an other so barbarously ... may use footeball for as much good to the body, by the chiefe use of the legges.
Mulcaster also confirms that in the 16th century England football was very popular and widespread: it had attained "greatnes. .. [and was] much used ... in all places"
Despite this violence continued to be a problem. For example, the parish archives of North Moreton, Oxfordshire for May 1595 state: "Gunter's son and ye Gregorys fell together by ye years at football. Old Gunter drew his dagger and both broke their heads, and they died both within a fortnight after."
In 1602 the earliest reference to a game involving passing the ball comes from cornish hurling. In particular Carew tells us that: "Then must he cast the ball (named Dealing) to some one of his fellowes". In this case, however, the pass is by hand, as in rugby football. Although there are other allusions to ball passing in the 17th century literature, this is the only one which categorically states that the ball was passed to another member of the same team. There are no other explicit references to passing the ball between members of the same team until the 1860s, however, in 1650 English puritan Richard Baxter alludes to player to player passing of the ball during a football game in his book Everlasting Rest: "like a Football in the midst of a crowd of Boys, tost about in contention from one to another".
The first references to goals come from England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. In 1584 and 1602 respectively, John Norden and Richard Carew referred to "goals" in Cornish hurling. Carew described how goals were made: "they pitch two bushes in the ground, some eight or ten foote asunder; and directly against them, ten or twelue [twelve] score off, other twayne in like distance, which they terme their Goales". He is also the first to refer to goalkeeping.
The first direct references to scoring a goal come from England in the 17th century. For example, in John Day's play The Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green (performed circa 1600; published 1659): "I'll play a gole at camp-ball" (an extremely violent variety of football, which was popular in East Anglia). Similarly in a poem in 1613, Michael Drayton refers to "when the Ball to throw, And drive it to the Gole, in squadrons forth they goe". The concept of football teams is mentioned by English Poet Edmund Waller in c1624: He mentions "a sort [i.e. company] of lusty shepherds try their force at football, care of victory ... They ply their feet, and still the restless ball, Toss'd to and fro, is urged by them all ". The last line suggests that playing as a team emerged much earlier in English football than previously thought.
Football continued to be outlawed in English cities, for example the Manchester Lete Roll contains a resolution, dated 12 October 1608: "That whereas there hath been heretofore great disorder in our towne of Manchester, and the inhabitants thereof greatly wronged and charged with makinge and amendinge of their glasse windows broken yearlye and spoyled by a companye of lewd and disordered psons vsing that unlawfull exercise of playinge with the ffote-ball in ye streets of ye sd toune breakinge many men's windowes and glasse at their plesures and other great enormyties. Therefore, wee of this jurye doe order that no manner of psons hereafter shall play or use the footeball in any street within the said toune of Manchester, subpœnd to evye one that shall so use the same for evye time xiid".
Although football was frequently outlawed in England, it remained popular even with the ruling classes. For example, during the reign of King James I of England James Howell mentions how Lord Willoughby and Lord Sunderland enjoyed playing football, for example:"Lord Willoughby, and he, with so many of their servants ... play'd a match at foot-ball against such a number of countrymen, where my Lord of Sunderland being busy about the ball, got a bruise in the breast
Football continued to be popular throughout 17th century England. For example in 1634 Davenant is quoted (in Hones Table-Book) as remarking, "I would now make a safe retreat, but methinks Jam stopped by one of your heroic gamea called football; which I conceive (under your favor) not very conveniently civil in the streets, especially in such irregular and narrow roads as Crooked Lane. Yet it argues your courage, much like your military pastime of throwing cocks, since you have long allowed these two valiant exercises in the streets". Similarly in 1638 Thomas Randolph suggests this in the following lines from one of his plays: "Madam, you may in time bring down his legs To the just size, now overgrown with playing Too much at foot-ball".
In 1660 comes the first objective study of football, given in Francis Willughby's Book of Games, written in about 1660. This account is particularly noteworthy as he refers to football by its correct name and is the first to describe the following: goals and a pitch ("a close that has a gate at either end. The gates are called Goals"), tactics ("leaving some of their best players to guard the goal"), scoring ("they that can strike the ball through their opponents' goal first win") and the way teams were selected ("the players being equally divided according to their strength and nimbleness"). He is the first to describe a law of football: "They often break one another's shins when two meet and strike both together against the ball, and therefore there is a law that they must not strike higher than the ball". His book includes the first (basic) diagram illustrating a modern football pitch.
Football continued to be played in the later 17th century, even in cities such as London. The great diarist Samuel Pepys, for example, states in 1665 that in a London street "the streete being full of footballs".
There is mention of football being played at Cambridge University in 1710. A letter from a certain Dr Bentley to the Bishop of Ely on the subject of university statutes includes a complaint about students being "perfectly at Liberty to be absent from Grace", in order to play football (referred to as "Foot-Ball") or cricket, and not being punished for their conduct as prescribed in the statutes.
1800–1870: Early rules
Main article: Football § Establishment_of_modern_codes
Football continued to be played in England throughout the 19th century. For example, in 1838 a thirteen-year-old boy James Mills of Hamer Bottom near Rochdale "had his leg broken in three places while playing at football" His leg had to be amputated. In 1844 football was evidently still popular in London. An advertisement in the Guardian newspaper for 14 December states: "Wanted immediately a field for football in the neighbourhood of London Road or Oxford Street". In 1845 an interesting reference from Darwen, Lancashire shows how football was popular among English factory workers: "A stranger passing through it at noon time may see a number of young men and boys dressed in Fustian engaged in the favourite sport of football".
England was the first country in the world to develop codified football, coming about from a desire of its various public schools to compete against each other. Previously, each school had its own rules, which may have dated back to the 15th or 16th centuries. The first attempts to come up with single codes probably began in the 1840s, with various meetings between school representatives attempting to come up with a set of rules with which all would be happy. The first attempt was The Cambridge Rules, created in 1848; others developed their own sets, most notably Sheffield F.C. (1855) and J.C. Thring (1862). These were moulded into one set in 1863 when the Football Association was formed; though some clubs continued to play under the Sheffield Rules until 1878, and others dissented to form Rugby Union instead.
The 1863 rules of the Football Association provides the first reference in the English Language to the verb to "pass" a ball.
C. W. Alcock became the first footballer ever to be ruled offside on 31 March 1866, confirming that players were probing ways of exploiting the new offside rule right from the start. The offside rule was introduced in 1866 into the Football Association rules. It was almost identical to the one that had been part of the Cambridge Rules.
The early Sheffield Rules were particularly important as their offside system allowed poaching or sneaking and thus demonstrated the use of the forward pass: Players known as "kick throughs" were positioned permanently near the opponents goal to receive these balls. According to C.W. Alcock the Sheffield style gave birth to the modern passing game. The Sheffield Rules of 1862 later included both crossbars and half time and free kicks were introduced to their code in 1866.
The oldest existing football trophy in the world is the Youdan Cup (1867), from Sheffield, England.
The English introduced football into France in 1863, founding their first club, as the following newspaper cutting shows: "A number of English gentlemen living in Paris have lately organised a football club ... The football contests take place in the Bois de Boulogne, by permission of the authorities and surprise the French amazingly."
1870–1888: The FA Cup, professionalism and the first international match
An offside rule had not been included in the 1863 FA rules. In 1867 a "loose" offside rule based on the Cambridge rules was introduced, permitting forward passing Consequently, in the late 1860s "scientific" team play and ball passing strategies started to evolve, which created the modern game as we know it. Teamwork and passing were the innovation of the Royal Engineers AFC By 1869 they were "work[ing] well together", "backing up" and benefiting from "cooperation". By 1870 the Engineers were the first team to use ball passing strategies: "Lieut. Creswell, who having brought the ball up the side then kicked it into the middle to another of his side, who kicked it through the posts the minute before time was called" Passing was a regular feature of their style and their skills included "turn[ing] the ball" to colleagues and "irreproachable organisation" of forwards and defenders By early 1872 the Engineers were the first football team renowned for "play[ing] beautifully together"
The FA Cup was the first nationally organised competition. A knockout cup, it began 1871, with the first winners being the Wanderers. In those days professionalism was banned, and the cup was dominated by service teams or old schoolboys' teams (such as Old Etonians). The Scottish Football Association split from the FA in 1873.
In the early 1870s the modern team passing game was invented by the Sheffield FC, Royal Engineers A.F.C. and Scottish players of the era from Queens Park FC. This was the predecessor to the current passing, defensive game was known as the Combination Game and was spread around the world by British expatriates.
England was home to the first ever international football match on 5 March 1870. The first match ended in a draw and was one of a series of four matches between representatives of England and Scotland at The Oval, London. These matches were arranged by the Football Association, at the time the only national football body in the world.
The origin of these games came in 1870 when CW Alcock's challenged homegrown contenders in Scotland against an English eleven. These challenges were issued in Scottish newspapers, including the Glasgow Herald. He received no response to these adverts. One response to Alcock's challenges illustrates that soccer was eclipsed in Scotland by other codes:
"Mr Alcock's challenge to meet a Scotch eleven on the borders sounds very well and is doubtless well meant. But it may not be generally well known that Mr Alcock is a very leading supporter of what is called the "association game"... devotees of the "association" rules will find no foemen worthy of their steel in Scotland".
As a result, he was forced to draw upon London-based players with Scottish origins. One notable Scottish player of the 1870 and 1871 games was Smith, a player of Queens Park FC. This suggests that southern teams were not so isolated from Glasgow players and style of play as originally thought. Alcock was categorical that although most players were London based, this was due to lack of response from north of the border:
"I must join issue with your correspondent in some instances. First, I assert that of whatever the Scotch eleven may have been composed the right to play was open to every Scotchman [Alcock's italics] whether his lines were cast North or South of the Tweed and that if in the face of the invitations publicly given through the columns of leading journals of Scotland the representative eleven consisted chiefly of Anglo-Scotians ... the fault lies on the heads of the players of the north, not on the management who sought the services of all alike impartially. To call the team London Scotchmen contributes nothing. The match was, as announced, to all intents and purposes between England and Scotland".
The 1870 and 1871 matches are not currently recognised by FIFA as official, however the Scotsman newspaper certainly identified them as "international [The Scotsman's italics]" Alcock continued to pursue players from "north of the Tweed", inviting them in papers such as the Scotsman to contact(for example) A F Kinnaird". At this time, however, it was unusual for national sides to travel far for matches and even in the 1873 England v Scotland game, the first FIFA recognised match in England, only 3 Scottish players were not from English sides Alcock decided "in order to further the interests of the Association in Scotland, it was decided that during the current season, a team should be sent to Glasgow to play a match v Scotland
The first official (i.e. currently recognised by FIFA) international match would take place between Scotland and England on 30 November 1872. This match was played under the Football Association rules.
Englishman C. W. Alcock was responsible for instigating the world's first official football international in Glasgow on 30 November 1872. This match was played under the Football Association rules and was drawn, however, the following year England became the first team in the world to win an international football match when they beat Scotland in London.
The South Derbyshire Football Association was established in March 1871
This period in English football was dominated by conflict between those who supported professionalism, and those who wanted the game to remain amateur. Clubs in Scotland and Northern England generally supported a professional game, as the working class of these regions could not afford to miss work in order to play football. In Southern England, the game was more popular with the middle class, who supported "Corinthian" values of amateurism. A number of clubs, such as Blackburn Rovers and Darwen were accused of employing professionals, and the FA eventually legalised the practice in 1885, in order to avoid a split.
The new professionals needed more regular competitive football in which they could compete, which led to the creation of the Football League in 1888 by Aston Villa director William McGregor. This was dominated by those clubs who had supported professionalism, and the twelve founding members consisted of six from Lancashire (Blackburn Rovers, Burnley, Bolton Wanderers, Accrington, Everton and Preston North End) and six from the Midlands (Aston Villa, Derby County, Notts County, Stoke, West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers). No sides from the South or London initially participated.
Preston North End won the first ever Football League championship without losing any of their 22 fixtures, and won the FA Cup to complete the double. They retained their league title the following year but by the turn of the 20th century they had been eclipsed by Aston Villa, who had emulated Preston's double success in 1897. Other Midlands sides, such as Wolves (1893 FA Cup winners) and West Bromwich Albion (1888 & 1892 FA Cup winners) were also successful during this era, as were Blackburn Rovers, who won five FA Cups in the 1880s and 1890s.
In 1891 Liverpool engineer John Alexander Brodie invented the football net.
In 1892, a new Division Two was added, taking in more clubs from around the country; Woolwich Arsenal became the first League club from the capital in 1893; they were also joined by Liverpool the same year. By 1898, both divisions had been expanded to eighteen clubs. Other rival leagues on a local basis were being eclipsed by the Football League, though both the Northern League and the Southern League - who provided the only ever non-league FA Cup winners Tottenham Hotspur in 1901 - remained competitors in the pre-World War I era.
At the turn of the 20th century, clubs from Sheffield were particularly successful, with Sheffield United winning a title and two FA Cups, as well as losing to Tottenham in the 1901 final; meanwhile The Wednesday (later Sheffield Wednesday) won two titles and two FA Cups, despite being relegated in 1899 they were promoted the following year. Clubs in Tyne and Wear were also at the forefront; Sunderland had won four titles between 1892 and 1902, and in the following decade Newcastle United won the title three times, in 1905, 1907 and 1909, and reached five FA Cup finals in seven years between 1905 and 1911, winning just the one, however. In addition Bury managed a 6–0 win over Derby County in the 1903 FA Cup Final, a record scoreline that stands to this day.
During the first decade of the 20th century, Manchester City looked to be emerging as England's top side after winning the FA Cup for the first time in 1904, but it was soon revealed that the club had been involved in financial irregularities, which included paying £6 or £7 a week in wages to players when the national wage limit was £4 per week. The authorities were furious and rebuked the club, dismissing five of its directors and banning four of its players from ever turning out for the club again.
Instead, it was City's neighbours United who were the more successful side during the early 20th century, helped by the acquisition of a number of former City players, including the talented Welsh winger Billy Meredith. They reached the First Division in 1906 and were crowned league champions two years later. The following year, 1909, they won the FA Cup and they added another league championship in 1911. A decline set in, however, and there would be no major trophies for the red half of Manchester for the next 37 years. Further domination of the game by clubs from the north-west came in the shape of Liverpool, who won two league titles in 1901 and 1906, and Everton, who won the FA Cup in 1906. And in the run-up to World War I, Blackburn Rovers recorded two league titles 1912 and 1914, before hostilities meant professional football was suspended. Oldham Athletic briefly appeared to be emerging as a force in English football at this time, emerging as title challengers in the 1914-15 season before finishing runners-up. However, after league football was resumed in 1919, the reshaped Oldham side failed to match their pre-war standards, and were relegated in 1923, not reclaiming their First Division status for 68 years.
Clubs from the South fared poorly in comparison, though in 1904 Woolwich Arsenal became the first club from London to be promoted to the First Division, while a slew of clubs from the capital joined the League (including Clapton Orient, Chelsea, Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur), making it a properly nationwide competition; both Chelsea and Spurs quickly gained promotion to the top flight as well. By 1921, Spurs had won two FA Cups, although Arsenal and Chelsea had still yet to win any silverware.
Woolwich Arsenal had struggled to attract high attendances even after promotion to the First Division, and so the club's owners decided to relocate from Plumstead, South London, to a new stadium in the Highbury area of North London in 1913. They were to play at this site for 93 years until relocating to the Emirates Stadium nearby in 2006.
On the international scene, the Home Nations continued to play each other, with Scotland the slightly more successful of the four. When the countries combined to play as Great Britain in the Olympic Games they were unbeatable, winning all three pre-World War I football gold medals. England played their first games against teams outside of the British Isles in 1908.
1919–1939: Inter-war years
From 1920 to 1923 the Football League expanded further, gaining a new Third Division (expanding quickly to Division Three South and Division Three North), with all leagues now containing 22 clubs, making 88 in total. In addition, in 1923 Wembley Stadium opened, and hosted its first Cup final, between Bolton Wanderers and West Ham United, known today as the "White Horse Final"; Bolton won 2–0.
During the interwar years, Arsenal and Everton were the two most dominant sides in English football, although Huddersfield Town did make history in 1926 by becoming the first team to complete a hat-trick of successive league titles. Arsenal would do the same in 1935. Manager Herbert Chapman was involved with both of these teams. He guided Huddersfield to the first two of their league titles before taking over at Arsenal, where he presided over the first two league titles, but he died just before the third consecutive title was clinched.
Everton had hit the headlines in 1928 by winning the league championship thanks largely to the record breaking 60 league goals of 21-year-old centre-forward Dixie Dean. He was helped by the new rules of the 1920s, including the allowing of goals from a corner kick, and the relaxing of the offside rule. Everton also won the league twice more, in 1932 and 1939, and the FA Cup in 1933. Their neighbours Liverpool had earlier won back-to-back titles in 1922 and 1923, but were unable to sustain this success. Arsenal were the most successful English club of the 1930s, winning a host of league titles and FA Cups with a team featuring players including Alex James, Eddie Hapgood, Joe Hulme, and Cliff Bastin.
Sheffield Wednesday were also successful during the 1930s, winning the 1929–30 title, the FA Cup in 1935 and finishing in the top three in all but one season in the period 1930–36. In addition, it was during this time that a Welsh side won the FA Cup for the only time; Cardiff City beating Arsenal 1–0 in the 1927 Final.
The 1930s saw the breakthrough of notable players including Stanley Matthews, who was first capped for England in 1934 when playing for Stoke City, and just before the outbreak of war, Tommy Lawton, who succeeded Dixie Dean in attack for Everton and England.
The national team remained strong, but lost their first game to a non-British Isles country in 1929 (against Spain in Madrid) and refused to compete in the first three World Cups, held once every four years from 1930. There was no World Cup in 1942 due to wartime hostilities, and although the war ended in 1945, there was not enough time or funding to organise a World Cup for 1946.
1945–1961: The end of English dominance
English football reconvened in the years following the end of World War II, when most clubs had closed down for a period, with the 1945–46 FA Cup, which saw the competition played over two legs to make up for a lack of league competition that season, although there had been regional wartime competitions and friendly matches during the hostilities. The first post-war trophy went to Derby County, who beat Charlton Athletic 4–1 in the final. The league restarted in the 1946–47 season, with the first title going to Liverpool. However, both Derby and Liverpool lost their First Division status during the 1950s, with Liverpool not returning until 1962 and Derby not until 1969.
In the immediate post-war years, Arsenal won another two titles and an FA Cup but after the second title win in 1953, began to fade considerably and would not win another trophy for nearly 20 years, although they did remain in the First Division throughout this time. However, three of their London rivals would enjoy major success over the next 15 years, with Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United all winning major trophies.
Portsmouth were also successful in the early postwar years. Having won the FA Cup in the last season before the war, they won their first league title in 1949 and retained it a year later, but like Liverpool they were relegated by the time the decade was over.
Manchester United re-emerged as a footballing force under new manager Matt Busby. They won the FA Cup in 1948 and the league title in 1952, the club's first trophies since before the Great War. Key players in this team included Johnny Carey, Jack Rowley and Stan Pearson. Busby's next successful team was the "Busby Babes", so called as the players were all young, rising through the club's youth system, developed as one of England's finest teams ever, with the likes of Bobby Charlton, Dennis Viollet, Tommy Taylor and Duncan Edwards winning two further titles in 1956 and 1957. Manchester United also became the first English team to compete in the new European Cup, contested by champions of European domestic leagues, reaching the semi-finals in 1957 and 1958.
But the Munich air disaster on 6 February 1958 resulted in the deaths of eight players (including Taylor and Edwards) and ended the careers of two others, while Busby survived with serious injuries. He built a new United side with a mix of young players, Munich survivors and new signings, and five years later his rebuilding programme paid off with FA Cup glory.
The other dominant team of the era was Wolverhampton Wanderers. Wolves, who had previously spent most of the interwar period in the lower divisions, won three league titles and two FA Cups under manager Stan Cullis and captain Billy Wright. Other Midlands sides also enjoyed success after a barren period, including West Bromwich Albion's FA Cup win in 1954 (their first trophy in 23 years) and Aston Villa matching them with a Cup win in 1957 (their first in 37 years). In addition, in 1951 Tottenham Hotspur became the first team in English football to win the league title immediately after being promoted, and Chelsea won their first and only league title of the 20th century in 1955.
One of the most memorable matches of the era was when Blackpool beat Bolton Wanderers 4–3 in the 1953 FA Cup Final, in a match that came to be known as the "Matthews Final", for Blackpool's mercurial winger Stanley Matthews, even though it was Stan Mortensen who scored a hat-trick that day; it remains Blackpool's only major honour.
English football as a whole, however, began to suffer at this time, with tactical naivety setting in. The national team were humiliated at their first World Cup in 1950, famously losing to the USA 1–0. This was followed by two defeats in 1953 and 1954 to Hungary, who destroyed England 6-3 at home, the first time England had lost at home to a non-British Isles team, and 7–1 in Budapest, England's biggest ever defeat. The early European club competitions also went without much English success, with the FA initially unwilling to allow clubs to compete. No English team reached a European Cup final until 1968, which was the same year that England got their first Fairs Cup success; although English teams Birmingham City (twice) and a London XI had reached the first three finals of the competition in its formative days.
Great players who rose to prominence during the 1950s include Duncan Edwards, Tommy Taylor, Bobby Charlton, Denis Law, Bobby Robson, Norman Deeley, Peter Sillett, Danny Blanchflower, Denis Compton and Joe Mercer.
While Edwards and Taylor both lost their lives due to the Munich tragedy, many older players naturally reached the end of their illustrious careers at around the same time. These include Nat Lofthouse, Tom Finney, Billy Wright, Stan Mortensen, Bert Williams and Johnny Carey.
Managers who achieved glory in the first 15 years of postwar English football include Matt Busby, Tom Whittaker, Stan Cullis, Ted Drake and Stan Seymour.
The end of the 1950s had seen the beginning of the modernisation of English football, with the Divisions Three North and South becoming the national Division Three and Division Four in 1958. 1960 saw the introduction of the League Cup (with the first winners being Aston Villa), whilst Matt Busby built a new team for the 1960s starring Munich survivor Bobby Charlton, youth team product George Best and British record signing Denis Law. Meanwhile, successful sides of the 1950s like Wolves started to decline, with relegation eventually coming in 1965. The decade was also less successful for the likes of Blackpool and Bolton Wanderers, who had been among the top sides of the early postwar years.
It was Tottenham Hotspur who became the dominant force in English football in the early 1960s, winning the elusive double of the League and FA Cup in 1961, retaining the cup in 1962 and becoming the first British team to win a European trophy, after their 5–1 victory over Atlético Madrid in the 1963 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final. The captain of this side was Danny Blanchflower, who retired in 1964, after which manager Bill Nicholson built a new side containing the likes of Jimmy Greaves and Terry Venables, which won the FA Cup in 1967.
Fellow London side West Ham United were also successful, with the England trio of Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters helping them win the 1964 FA Cup and the 1965 Cup Winners' Cup. All three would go on to play a key role in an even bigger success for their country.
The English national side showed signs of improving with Alf Ramsey taking over as head coach following a respectable quarter final appearance at the 1962 FIFA World Cup. Ramsey confidently predicted that at the next tournament, England would win the trophy, and they did just that.
The 1966 World Cup saw England win the World Cup in a controversial 4–2 victory over West Germany. The three goals scored by Geoff Hurst within 120 minutes, of which some are controversial, are the only hat trick to be achieved in a World Cup final to date. Bobby Moore was the captain on that day, whilst Munich air crash survivor Bobby Charlton also played. Moore's West Ham colleagues Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters scored that day. The World Cup as a whole was highly successful, with the successes of the North Korea team, the fouls of the Uruguay team, the skill of Eusébio and the famous quote They think it's all over ... it is now entering England's collective memory.
The period also saw the first English successes in European club football, begun with Manchester United's 4–1 European Cup victory over S.L. Benfica, and Leeds United's Inter-Cities Fairs Cup victory, both in 1968. The Fairs Cup (which was renamed the UEFA Cup in 1971) ended up being won by English clubs for six seasons in succession, with the 1972 final being held between two of them, Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
During this time, a number of different teams competed for league and cup success. Manchester City enjoyed success at the same time as their rivals United, winning the First Division title for only the second time in 1968, and the FA Cup the year after that, and a double of the Cup Winners' Cup and League Cup in 1970. Leeds' Fairs Cup success was no isolated effort; Don Revie's side also won a League Cup in 1968 and the league title the season after. Liverpool under Bill Shankly had won promotion in 1962 and soon after won the league title in 1964, and again in 1966, with an FA Cup in between; their neighbours Everton meanwhile had similar success, taking two league titles in 1963 and 1970, and the FA Cup in 1966.
Players who dominated the English scene during the 1960s include Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst, Bobby Charlton, George Best, Denis Law, Jimmy Greaves, Francis Lee, Jeff Astle, Gordon Banks and Roger Hunt. With the exception of Best and Law, all of these players appeared for the England team, with six of them being in England's 1966 World Cup squad.
The decade also saw the illustrious careers of many famous older players drawing to a close. These include Danny Blanchflower, Harry Gregg, Dennis Viollet, Norman Deeley, Peter McParland, Noel Cantwell, Bert Trautmann, Jimmy Adamson, and the 50-year-old Stanley Matthews, who played his final game for Stoke City in February 1965.
Successful managers of the 1960s included Matt Busby, Bill Nicholson, Harry Catterick, Bill Shankly, Don Revie, Joe Mercer and Ron Greenwood.
The 1970s began with Everton as league champions, while Chelsea won their first ever FA Cup. A year later, Arsenal became the second club of the century to win the double. 1972 saw Derby County win the league title for the first time under the management of Brian Clough, while Leeds United continued to enjoy success as FA Cup winners and Stoke City lifted the League Cup to claim the first major trophy of their history.
The League Cup was shunned by a number of leading English clubs during the 1960s, before the Football League eventually made participation compulsory for all member clubs. The first winners were Aston Villa, still statistically the most successful club in English football at this point. Their local rivals Birmingham City won the third League Cup in 1963 - the first major trophy of their history. The 1962 winners, Norwich City, had yet to even play in the First Division. Established clubs including Chelsea and West Bromwich Albion won the League Cup during its early years, but it was won by Third Division clubs on two occasions, with Queen's Park Rangers winning the first one-match League Cup final at Wembley in 1967 (the first six finals had been played over two legs), and Swindon Town winning the trophy in 1969.
1972–1985: The rise of Liverpool
The 1970s was an odd decade in English football, with the national team disappointing but English clubs enjoying great success in European competitions. They failed to qualify for the 1974 and 1978 World Cups, and also missed out on qualification for the final stages of the European Championships in 1972 and 1976. English club sides, however, dominated on the continent. Altogether, in the 1970s, English clubs won eight European titles and lost out in four finals; whilst from 1977 to 1984 English clubs won seven out of eight European Cups.
London clubs had enjoyed a strong start to the decade, with Arsenal and Chelsea winning silverware, while West Ham United won their second FA Cup in 1975. Arsenal reached the FA Cup final three years in a row from 1978, but only had one win, also being beaten in a European final.
However, the dominant team in England in this period was Liverpool, winning league titles in 1973, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983 and 1984. They also collected three European Cups, three FA Cups and four League Cups, under Shankly and his successor Bob Paisley, who retired as manager in 1983 to be succeeded by veteran coach Joe Fagan. Players such as Emlyn Hughes and Alan Hansen helped Liverpool have a solid and reliable side, whose skill and talent was supported by a strong work ethic and the famous "boot room" identity. Kevin Keegan was Liverpool's leading striker for much of the 1970s before being sold to HSV Hamburg in 1977 and being replaced by Kenny Dalglish. The midfield was boosted towards the end of the decade by the arrival of Graeme Souness, and the early 1980s spawned further new stars including high-scoring striker Ian Rush, talented midfielder Craig Johnston and skilful defender Steve Nicol.
The other notably successful teams of the era were Derby County, Nottingham Forest, Everton and Aston Villa. Derby, led by Brian Clough and then Dave Mackay, were the only team other than Liverpool to win the league more than once in the 1970s and also reached the semi-final of the European Cup in the 1972–73 season, though they faded rapidly towards the end of the decade, going down in 1980. Forest, led by Brian Clough (who had an infamous 44-day stint at Leeds United after resigning at Derby), took over at the City Ground in January 1975 when Forest were a struggling Second Division side; in 1977 he took them into the First Division and they won the league title a year later, followed by two successive European Cup triumphs and also adding two League Cups. Everton began the 1970s on a high note as league champions in 1970, but rarely featured in the race for the major trophies until they won the FA Cup under Howard Kendall in 1984. They added the league title and European Cup Winners' Cup a year later. Aston Villa had bounced back from relegation to the Third Division in 1970, winning promotion to the top flight in 1975 and a League Cup the same year, and again in 1977. They went on to win the 1981 league title and the year after won the European Cup, becoming the fourth English club to do so, beating Bayern Munich 1–0 in Rotterdam.
Between 1965 and 1974 Leeds had been the most consistent club side in English football, winning two league titles, as well as five runners-up places, had never finished outside the top four and had reached nine major finals, and 4 other semi-finals, as well as winning the FA cup in 1972, however this success would end with the departure of Don Revie for the England national team 1974, and apart from a final flurry in the 1975 European cup final, they won no more trophies and were relegated in 1982.
Other clubs did not fare as well in the 1970s; Manchester United began to decline after Matt Busby's retirement in 1969 and were relegated in 1974. However, they were promoted back the following season, and reached three cup finals in four years (1976, 1977 and 1979), though they only won the 1977 final. United went on to finish second twice during the 1980s and won two more FA Cup's in 1983 and 1985, but the league title continued to elude them - they had not won it since 1967.
On the other hand, their neighbours City struggled in the early 1980s after doing relatively well in the 1970s. They were FA Cup runners-up in 1981, but heavy spending on players who rarely lived up to their price tags did the club no favours and they were relegated in 1983 and again in 1987, reclaiming their First Division status after two seasons on both occasions, although it would be more than 20 years before they began to seriously compete among the leading English clubs again.
Meanwhile, Chelsea were also going through a turbulent time after winning the FA Cup in 1970 and the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1971. Financial problems and the loss of key players meant they spent most of 1970s and 1980s bouncing between the First and Second Divisions. In 1983, they only narrowly avoided relegation to the Third Division, but were promoted the following year.
Wolves, who had arguably been the best team of the 1950s and were still a reasonable force in 1980 (when they finished sixth and won the League Cup), suffered a spectacular decline which began in 1984 and ended in 1986 with three successive relegations that saw them in the Fourth Division for the first time. They were not alone in suffering a relegation hat-trick; Bristol City had completed the first such humiliation in 1982, though they were admittedly a far smaller club whose relegation in 1980 came after just four years in the top flight after an absence of 65 years.
Ipswich Town, managed by the former England forward Bobby Robson, re-emerged as a successful side in the 1970s, winning the FA Cup in 1978. They followed this with UEFA Cup glory in 1981 and were also league runners-up and FA Cup semi-finalists that year. They finished runners-up again in 1982, but Robson then departed to manage the England team and the successful side of the late 1970s and early 1980s was gradually broken up. With vast amounts of money being spent on upgrading their Portman Road stadium, there was very little money for the Suffolk club to spend on new players, and they were relegated in 1986.
Wolves were one of several once-great sides to endure a decline during the 1970s and early 1980s. Huddersfield Town (who complete the first league title hat-trick during the 1920s) were relegated from the First Division in 1971 and fell into the Fourth Division in 1975, not winning promotion until 1980. Portsmouth (league champions in 1949 and 1950) fell into the Fourth Division in 1978 as an almost bankrupt side, but climbed out of it in 1980 and within five years were looking capable of reaching the First Division for the first time since the 1950s. Derby County were league champions in 1972 and 1975, but a rapid decline saw them fall into the Second Division in 1980 and the Third Division in 1984, almost going out of business just before their second relegation. Burnley, league champions as recently as 1960, fell into the Fourth Division in 1985, and with the introduction of automatic relegation from the Football League, narrowly avoided relegation to the Football Conference (the highest division of non league football since its formation in 1979) in 1987.
The period was also marked by some surprise FA Cup wins by lower-division teams over top-flight sides; these included Sunderland (beating Leeds United in 1973), Southampton (beating Manchester United in 1976) and West Ham United (beating Arsenal in 1980). Bobby Robson's Ipswich Town were another successful smaller club, winning the FA Cup in 1978 and the UEFA Cup in 1981. They also came second in the league in 1981 and 1982.
During this period transfer fees began to rise rapidly as more money entered the game; Trevor Francis became Britain's first million-pound footballer in February 1979 when he signed for Nottingham Forest, whose full-back Viv Anderson had just become England's first black international player, a landmark which reflected the growing number of non-white players in the English game. In October 1981, Bryan Robson became England's first £1.5million footballer with his transfer from West Bromwich Albion to Manchester United.
However, hooliganism continued to blight English football throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s, contributing to a fall in attendances, accelerated by the recession of the early 1980s. This spelled financial problems for a number of clubs, particularly those who suffered a decline on the pitch as well. In the space of a few years, some of the most famous clubs in English football were faced with the threat of going out of business. These included Blackpool, Chelsea, Derby County, Middlesbrough and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
1979 saw the formation of the Football Conference. This was the first national league to develop below the Football League, and was the beginning of a formalisation of the English football pyramid. The first seven Conference champions failed to gain election to the Football League, but in 1986 it was decided that the following year's champions would be automatically promoted to the league to replace the Fourth Division's bottom side ...
The re-election system saw Cambridge United elected to the league in 1970, Hereford United in 1972, Wimbledon in 1977 and Wigan Athletic in 1978. Cambridge reached the Second Division in 1978 and were a competent side at this level for five seasons before a terrible decline saw them fall back into the Fourth Division in 1985, although they did enjoy a swift but brief revival in the early 1990s which took them to the brink of top division football.
Hereford reached the Second Division after just four years of league membership, only to endure back-to-back relegations which pushed them back into the Fourth Division in 1978.
Wimbledon's first two promotions from the Fourth Division ended in relegation after just one season, but by 1984 they had reached the Second Division and their biggest successes were yet to come.
After the dark days of the 1970s, the English national team began to recover slowly in the early 1980s. Ron Greenwood had succeeded Don Revie as England manager in the autumn of 1977, and took England to the European Championships in 1980 and the World Cup in 1982. He was succeeded by Bobby Robson in July 1982. England missed out on qualification for the 1984 European Championships, but the FA kept faith in Robson and he delivered qualification for the 1986 World Cup.
Players who dominated the English scene during the 1970s and early 1980s include Kevin Keegan, Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness, Peter Shilton, Bryan Robson, John Wark, Liam Brady, Steve Perryman, Glenn Hoddle and Alan Hansen.
Older players whose careers finished during this time include Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton, George Best, Denis Law, Jimmy Greaves, Billy Bremner, Jack Charlton, Emlyn Hughes, Gordon Banks and Alex Stepney.
Successful managers of this era include Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley, Don Revie, John Lyall, Brian Clough, Ron Saunders, Ron Atkinson, Bobby Robson and Keith Burkinshaw.
1986–1991: The end of an era
During the 1970s and 1980s, the spectre of hooliganism had begun to haunt English football. The Heysel Stadium disaster
A Football History: from its origin to now
There is no clear documentation stating the date and place of origination of today's most popular sport - world football. However, most historians agree that some type of a ball game has been played for at least over 3000 years.
The origins of the game can be seen in games played in China, Japan, Egypt, Greece before our modern game developed in England.
Here is a brief outline of some of the events that have shaped the game of soccer throughout history.
A Football Timeline
|5000-300 B.C.||There is evidence in China that military forces around 2nd and 3rd century BC (Han Dynasty) played a game, originally named "Tsu Chu", that involved kicking a leather ball stuffed with fur into a small hole. Like Soccer, no hands were permitted during the play of the game.|
|2500 B.C||There was possibly a version of a type of ball game played by young women in Egypt during the age of Baqet III, as images of this sport were depicted on his tomb, though there is not much known of this sport except that it was played with a ball.|
|1000 B.C.||The Japanese version of 'soccer' was called Kemari, a game much like modern hackysacks, played with two to twelve players, and played a larger ball stuffed with sawdust. There was also a field designated by four trees (cherry, maple, pine and willow).|
|B.C.||In ancient Greece, they played a game called Episkyros, in which two equal numbered teams would try to throw the ball over the heads of the other team. There was a white line between the teams and another white line behind each team. Teams would change the ball often until one of the team was forced behind the line at their end.|
|50 B.C.||China's Tsu Chu players and Japan's Kemari players were the first to have an "International" game of their versions of soccer, believed to have occurred roughly 50 B.C.. There is a definite date of such a game occurring in 611 A.D.|
|600 - 1600 A.D.||In Mexico & Central America the rubber ball was created, and used in a game on a recessed court 40-50 feet long shaped like a capital "I". In the middle of each wall, was a mounted stone or wooden ring and the object was to project the hard rubber ball through the ring.|
|700s||The first Football games played in Britain was between the locals of east of England, starting after a 'legendary' game that involved kicking around the severed head of a Danish prince that they had defeated in a war. These games were violent, where injury and death were not uncommon|
|1331||Despite the violence of these celebratory games, they were still popular. This led King Edward III of England to pass laws in 1331 to stop the game|
|1424||King James I of Scotland also passed a law banning the game|
|1500||In Italy they played a game called "calcio" with teams of 27+ people. The game involved kicking, carrying or passing a ball across a goal line. In 1580, Giovanni Bardi published a set of rules of the game of calcio.|
|1572||Queen Elizabeth I of England, enacted laws that could sentence a football player to jail for a week followed by penance in a church.|
|1600||In Alaska and Canada the native Eskimos played a game called aqsaqtuk on ice, using balls stuffed with grass, caribou hair, and moss. One legend tells of two villages playing against each other with goals 10 miles apart.|
|1605||Football became legal again in England|
|1620||In North America, native American Indians in the original Jamestown settlement played a game called pasuckuakohowog, meaning "they gather to play ball with the foot." It was a rough game, played the beach, the field a half-mile wide with goals 1 mile apart, with as many as 1000 players at a time.|
|1815||Eton College of England established a set of rules for the games.|
|1820||In the USA, football was played among the Northeastern universities and colleges of Harvard, Princeton, Amherst and Brown.|
|1848||The rules were further standardized and a new version was adopted by all the schools, college and universities, known as the Cambridge Rules.|
|1862||The first soccer club formed anywhere outside of England was the Oneida Football Club, Boston USA.|
|1863||October 26 of 1863, the Football Association was formed when eleven London schools and clubs came together at the Freemason's Tavern to establish a single set of rules to administer any football match that were to be played among them. On December 8 1863, Association Football and Rugby Football finally split onto two different organizations. Later in the year, the first ever soccer match was played on Barnes common at Mortlake, London on 19th December 1863 between Barnes Football Club and Richmond Football Club. The game ended in a 0-0 draw.|
|1869||The Football Association rules were further amended to exclude any handling of the ball.|
|1872||The first official international football match was played, between the national teams of Scotland and England, played in Glasgow Scotland. The game was played on 30 November 1872, and finished with a 0-0 draw.|
|1883||The four British associations agreed on a uniform code and formed the International Football Association Board.|
|1885||The first international match played by teams outside of Great Britain was between USA and Canada, played in Newark and ended with Canada winning 1-0.|
|1888||Introduction of the penalty kick.|
|1900||Soccer played at the Olympic Games for the first time|
|1904||Establishment of FIFA by delegates from France, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland at a meeting in Paris on the 21st of May.|
|1930||In 1930, The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) held soccer's first World Cup tournament in Montevideo, Uruguay, with 13 teams.|
|1932||Soccer was taken off the program for the Olympic Games in Los Angeles, due to a controversy between FIFA and the IOC over the definition of amateur and the reluctance of many strong soccer countries to travel the US because of the expense involved.|
|1991||The inaugural Women's World Cup in 1991 in China was won by the United States|
|1996||The American women's team won the first-ever women's soccer event at the Olympics.|