It should be unthinkable to write the social history of Britain from the late nineteenth century onwards without reference to association football. Yet by the time that the Football Association celebrated its centenary year in 1963, no serious academic analysis had been undertaken of the sport and of the various channels by which it had developed in different parts of the country. By the time that historians began to tackle that task, its complexity and diversity were such that it could only be undertaken in installments. Studies emerged that focused upon individual clubs and specific regions or which were limited to narrow time scales. No work examined the long century from the 1860s to the 1970s in full.
This book analyses the growth of British football in all its aspectsthe developments of the football crowd, the status of the professional player, womens football, the difficult survival of amateurism, to mention but a few. It also highlights the factors that contributed to diverse developmental paths in different parts of the country. The author has used the widest range of source materials to achieve a broader overview of the games history than has previously been attempted.