Victorian football, made possible by the Factory Act of 1850
Is that possible?
Although football had been played in one form or another for hundreds of years in Britain, it was not until the Victorian period that clubs formed and proper rules were put in place. The question is why?
The Factory Act of 1850 , amongst other things, stated that all work must stop at 2p.m on Saturday afternoons. For the first time people had free time on their hands. The idea of ‘free time’ a time for recreational activities was unheard of amongst British working classes.
Free time could also mean trouble, lots of young men on the streets, happy to prop up a bar could have become something of a Victorian problem and indeed it did. The first football clubs were started by churches. The church was keen to promote clean living and abstinence from the demon drink. Sporting pursuits were considered a good thing. They worked with the employers of the factories both hoping to encourage healthy pursuits, a benefit to church and employers alike. Teams were formed from church groups, factory groups, military groups.
Land was begged and borrowed, kit was cobbled together but it took very little time for the club game to take off. Supporters soon learnt rousing songs to support their favourite teams and the flat caps of the men sang out from the sidelines.
Some Victorian football clubs went by different names, some are all too familiar
Victorian football teams such as Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest, Everton and Blackburn Rovers were all born in the Victorian period. Who were the most successful?
Victorian football kits
In the Victorian period the idea of a football kit emerged. See them by clicking here.