Much has been written about Geordie-Gallic connections in the wake of Newcastle United’s ‘French revolution’. Inevitably, these articles tend to focus on the Premier League era. However, Newcastle’s French connections go beyond the signing of David Ginola in 1995, way back to the club’s glorious Edwardian years.
Newcastle first played French opposition in 1904, when a ‘Paris XI’ arrived at St James’ Park as part of a British tour. The visiting team was referred to in press reports as ‘a leading French association club’. Some sources named them as FC Paris, the football arm of CA Paris (now CA Paris-Charenton). However, that wasn’t quite correct. ‘As a matter of fact they were but a scratch lot collected by an enterprising man of business,’ revealed a newspaper report. Read more…
Journalists often criticise players, managers and clubs, but in the 1890s Newton Heath took offence.
Manchester United are cheats, Liverpool are divers, and Arsenal are just plain rubbish. Those are a selection of opinions from newspaper reports following recent Premier League matches. It would be ridiculous if a football club were to sue a newspaper because they did not like a match report but, in 1894, Newton Heath did exactly that. The offending article appeared in the Birmingham Gazette, and concerned a Division One match against West Bromwich Albion. Heath – who became Manchester United eight years later – won 4-1 but reporter William Jephcott was unimpressed by their rough play. “It was not football, it was simply brutality,” he wrote. “If these are to be the tactics Newton Heath adopt to win their matches, the sooner the Football Association deal severely with them the better it will be for the game generally.”
If you’re anything like me then you didn’t have a choice over the club you support. I’m a Newcastle United supporter by virtue of my family and where I was born and grew up. Not that I’m complaining (I wouldn’t swap this life of disappointment and heartache for anything), but the deep-rooted affiliation between club and supporters, where a love for our team is in our blood, makes it difficult – even impossible – to ever walk away.
So what can you do when the modern incarnation of your club – and modern football as a whole – begins to wear you down? As a Newcastle fan I’ve had my loyalty pushed to its limits in recent years by ineptitude on and off the pitch, combined with stadium rebranding, payday loan partnerships and other commercially-driven modern football nonsense. The thing is, you can give up your season ticket, reduce the number of games you go to, avoid reading the back pages, find something else to talk about in the pub, but actually severing your ties is much harder to do. You’re in the difficult situation of not really liking your football club but still being totally in love with it. Read more…
How an early journalist for The Northern Echo helped shape the modern game.
We’ve a lot to thank the Victorians for. They gave us the light-bulb, the telephone, the flushing toilet, and — perhaps most importantly — association football. Folk had been kicking balls around for hundreds of years, but the Victorians shaped the game, setting the rules, forming clubs and creating competitions. They established the Football Association, the FA Cup and the Football League. They built grounds, drew up fixture lists and introduced the off side rule. And, as the Victorians watched, played and embraced football, they wrote about it.
The world of Victorian football writers is a fascinating one, as you’ll be aware if you’ve ever had cause to search through 19th-century newspaper archives for news of matches from the game’s formative years. These often anonymous individuals were occasionally afforded pen names, such as Goal-Post, Full-Back or Spectator. In their columns, they added colour to the sports coverage in Britain’s many regional newspapers and cast a proto-pundit’s eye over the
emerging game. These writers also played an important — and arguably vital — part in the development of football.