Peter probes why the modern game developed in Lancashire
8:00am Saturday 19th January 2013 in News
TODAY’S beautiful game is dominated by millionaire footballers and WAGs making it easy to forget the humble origins of the game — and “who really invented modern football”.
University of Bolton Visiting Professor Dr Peter Swain, pictured, and his co-author Dr Adrian Harvey have attempted to answer how professional football began in the latest edition of the International Journal of the History of Sport.
Dr Swain tries to unravel why professional association football developed in south Lancashire in the 1870s and 80s — but not in other hotbeds of football, such as Sheffield.
He said: “My research suggests that south Lancashire already had a well-developed commercial sporting culture prior to that period, which included boxing, cricket and horse racing.
“Football simply built upon this culture and began to charge entrance fees to grounds and chose to pay its players.”
Lancashire already had a rich history of sports festivals, which would often involve prize money for activities such as five, six or seven-aside football games.
Dr Swain said: “Five-aside is not the modern concept most people think it is as footballers were competing for prize money at these sorts of games in the 1870s.
“These games were then transformed into 11-aside games, where players were paid in the same manner as they had been paying professional cricketers from the 1860s onwards.”
And the research has revealed professional football grew in the red rose county rather than the white thanks to the lower middle classes, including teachers, clerks and book-keepers who were the driving force behind its rise.
Dr Swain said: “These were the people close enough to working class players to understand they needed pay to be able to be a full-time player.”
Tommy Banks FORMER Whites star, Tommy Banks, pictured, played for Wanderers between 1947 and 1961 — the era when a campaign for better wages was launched.
Tommy, now aged 83, started playing for the Whites when he was aged just 17 and working in the pit, earning £8 a week.
He said: “I asked what I would get for part-time, they offered me £6 and with the money I was making in the pit I was only a few shillings short of what the best players were being paid.
“In the 1920s we got £2 for a win and £1 for a draw, but it was still the same in 1955.”
Tommy says football has completely changed in the years since he hung up his boots.
He added: “It has gone the other way now, television changed everything, and footballers are like celebrities with big wages.
“They can’t go out like we could because they are always autograph hunters around.”