Britain did not invent football, as Sepp Blatter would no doubt remind, but it did knock it into shape, drawing up rules, forming clubs, organising competitions, and sending the association version out into the world. In his book Fathers of Football, Keith Baker profiles several pioneering British football missionaries, many of whom remain relatively unknown in their home country.
Edward Robinson lived a life of high adventure alongside history’s most infamous pirates. But was he really a murderous sea-robber, and did he deserve his brutal fate? This extract from my book Sins Dyed In Blood: In Search of the Newcastle Pirate was published in Expost Magazine at Medium.
Footballers haven’t always had 15 minutes to catch their breath. The original Laws of the Game included no reference to half-time, and instead required teams to change ends after each goal was scored.
Edward Robinson was a British pirate who sailed with Blackbeard during the Golden Age of Piracy in the early 1700s. Born in Newcastle upon Tyne, Robinson was hanged for the crime of piracy in Charleston, South Carolina. But was he really a murderous sea-robber, and did he deserve his brutal fate? This is the true swashbuckling story of the Newcastle Pirate.
“Strange tale of Newcastle’s real-life pirate of the Caribbean” – Chronicle
BJ Evans was a pioneer of early football reporting, and his 1946 book How to Become a Sporting Journalist reveals some of his methods, which required a bicycle and two carrier pigeons in a basket. His story also involves binoculars, a charabanc, turnips, the Blitz, and the medicinal properties of hot Oxo.
First mooted in 1937 yet only mandatory for Premier League clubs since this season, undersoil heating has endured a chequered history – starring frost, flame-throwers and a fuming Fergie. Also in this issue – strange football tech, including electronic referee’s assistants, footballer brain stimulators, and robotic goalkeepers.
A great myth associated with Newcastle United is that the club was formed in 1892 courtesy of a merger between East End and West End. In fact, the club was formed in 1881, and there was no merger. Contemporary sources and modern histories make this clear, yet the 1892 myth still persists. This article looks at reclaiming Newcastle’s lost history.
My review of Michael Walker’s new book, Up There: The North-East, Football, Boom & Bust, is in the latest issue of When Saturday Comes. The book is a long-overdue social history of North-East football. From the game’s earliest years, Walker shows how the industrial North-East established itself as a football powerhouse.
Away days adventures are among the many joys of being a football fan, and have been since the Victorian era. But how did fans travel to or follow away matches in the days before cars and buses, or TV and radio?
The magic sponge is one of football’s most familiar artefacts, having being variously applied to players’ bumps and bruises for more than a hundred years. Originally used in boxing and athletics to help relieve pain and reduce swelling, the cold wet sponge became popularly regarded in football as an apparently miraculous cure for virtually any injury.
A wander through Newcastle’s early history to discover how the club came to mean so much to so many. Covering the first 30 years, from its foundation as Stanley FC in 1881 to the triumphant FA Cup win in 1910, the book visits the grounds, meets the players, mingles with the fans, and relives the matches that made Newcastle United.
John Alexander Brodie was one of the most prominent civil engineers to come out of the Victorian era. Based in Liverpool, he was a pioneer in areas as diverse as motoring, prefab housing and refuse compacting. Yet his greatest achievement – by his own reckoning – was the invention, 125 years ago, of the football goal net.
In 1914, at the outbreak of the First World War, several of Britain’s most famous footballers were imprisoned in the brutal Ruhleben internment camp, on the outskirts of Berlin. Surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards, living in squalor and on meagre rations, and with freedom far out of reach, they sought salvation in the thing they knew best: football.
Russ Routledge is a former amateur boxer from Newcastle upon Tyne. In 1984, he spent a week living with Muhammad Ali, the greatest fighter of all time. Russ was down on his luck and far from home, and Ali was attempting to deal with retirement and the onset of Parkinson’s. This is the story of their unlikely friendship.
The first Northern League match at St James’ Park was played 125 years ago in September 1889 between the two Newcastle clubs West End and East End. St James’ was the home ground of West End, and it looked very different to how it does today.
A review of the book The Evergreen in Red and White by Steven Kay, a fictional account of the life of the Victorian footballer Rab Howell of Sheffield United. Howell was the first footballer of Romany origin to play for England. A slight but skilful half-back, he was a star of the excellent Sheffield United team of the 1890s.