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The emergence of an association football culture in Manchester 1840–1884

James, Gary and Day, Dave (2014) The emergence of an association football culture in Manchester 1840–1884. Sport in history, 34 (1). pp. 49-74. ISSN 1746-0271

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Abstract

Association football had become a prominent part of Manchester's sporting landscape by 1884, when the Manchester FA was formed, and this paper considers both how the game became significant in the city and how this development can be used to further the wider debate on the origins of the game. Using a range of archival sources, the paper provides an overview of Manchester's footballing culture, focusing on the period up to the formal adoption of rules and creation of clubs in the 1860s and 1870s, with particular reference to three of the city's earliest organized football clubs. While the influence of each of these clubs was transitory they were linked spatially, chronologically and through key individuals, and their contribution was substantial, even if their existence has largely been ignored by historians. This paper closes by concluding that neither the orthodox nor the revisionist views of the game's origins can fully explain Manchester's experience. In contrast to the idea that certain class groups were more influential than others the authors suggest that football's emergence during the Victorian period depended significantly on key individuals from varying backgrounds who provided the energy and enthusiasm for the game, rather than on specific class interests.

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