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The Origins of the Football League: The First Season 1888/89 Paperback – 15 Jul 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Amberley Publishing (15 July 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1445618818
  • ISBN-13: 978-1445618814
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 15.7 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 566,842 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Author will be a guest speaker on the first League season at the National Football Museum in September. Will be expecting press coverage on his unveiling of 'who scored the first goal in the Football League'

Book Description

Author will be a guest speaker on the first League season at the National Football Museum in September. Will be expecting press coverage on his unveiling of 'who scored the first goal in the Football League'

See all Product Description

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As someone who knows little about football, I bought this book as a present for a couple of avid fans, whose interest passes beyond the borders of tribal fanship, into a wider perspective of the game. Both books were received with great thanks and the feedback was more than enthusiastic in both cases, leading me to believe it was an enjoyable and informative read. I would certainly recommend it to other fans of the game - or to those looking for something for fans of the game!
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Format: Paperback
Book review - The First League Season by When Saturday Comes

This is the review by When Saturday Comes of my book on the 1888/89 season.

In 1888, during the early years of professional football, clubs began to look for a way to secure regular income beyond that generated by occasional cup-ties and friendly matches. It was Aston Villa director William McGregor who proposed the solution, suggesting that “the most promising clubs in England combine to arrange home and away fixtures each season.” As the Football League celebrates its anniversary 125 years later, Mark Metcalf’s extensively researched book examines the inaugural season of the game’s oldest league competition.

The Origins of the Football League opens with a brief but useful primer on the state of football in 1888. It was an evolving game in which there were no penalty kicks or goal nets, and goalkeepers could handle the ball anywhere within their own half. But growing interest and attendances allowed the League’s 12 founder members to flourish. Indeed, 11 of the 12 still play League football today – the exception is Accrington (not to be confused with Accrington Stanley), who folded in 1896.

The book traces the 188-89 season via a series of match reports, many of which are taken from contemporary newspapers. These early reports have, as Metcalf puts it, “a certain symmetry to them”, typically detailing the weather and pitch conditions, while studiously recording who won the toss before presenting a fairly perfunctory account of the play. “The visiting right made an attack that was cleared by Bethell,” reads an opening-day report for Bolton Wanderers v Derby County, “and in two minutes from the start Kenny had scored a fine goal for the Wanderers. A protest was made in vain.
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Format: Paperback
I love reading anything I can lay my hands on about Victorian football and was similarly prompted to buy this book after reading the review in "When Saturday comes." This paperback has a brief introduction before plunging in to the week by week account of every match in the season. Initially the author re-printed newspaper reports which, whilst interesting from a point of view of their content in contrast to the focus of today's journalists who often make you wonder whether they were at the match, do not really capture the excitement of watching the match. Later on, Mark Metcalf provides his own assessments which offer some interesting snippets and make more interesting reading. It was amazing how quickly Preston North End wrapped up the winning of the campaign. There are also chapters on the FA Cup campaign and the home championship in the 1888/9 season but the best part of the book is reserved for pen portraits of all the players from each team who played in this season. This section is fascinating and offers a tantalising glimpse of the wider world of Victorian football with reference to teams that have long-since disappeared.

However, I think that some opportunities have been lost with this book. Whilst there are some grainy photos of the old grounds as well as sketches from the period that help you visualise what spectators might have experienced, I felt the book could really have done with an introduction to each team which explained its origins and maybe helped describe why teams like Everton were selected as opposed to Bootle or why Padiham were surpassed by local rivals Burnley. The information about kit colour is only mentioned in passing and colour plates of the outfits would have been a brilliant addition.
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Format: Paperback
Disappointing in that the actual story behind the League's formation is skimmed over in just a few pages. However the incredible amount of research that has gone into making the body of the book is stunning. An absolute must have for football historians everywhere
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