Coining a phrase

Referring to football as “the beautiful game” is a tired cliche but its origins reveal much about how the sport developed and spread around the world. It was used to describe football long before the phrase was popularised in the 1970s by Pele, and Pele most likely borrowed it from Brazil teammate Didi.

 

Penalty clauses

Penalty kicks generated fierce opposition when they were first introduced to football in the early 1890s, with amateur players of the day outraged at the implication that any good sportsman would commit a deliberate or “professional” foul. They protested by refusing to score or save them.

 

Elephant football

In the summer of 1899, football’s most famous goalkeeper took on a Sanger’s Circus elephant in what was billed as ‘The Greatest Novelty in the World’ – an elephant-versus-man penalty shoot-out. This is the story of one of the the great football sensations of the Victorian era.

 

Still with us: Darwen

The town of Darwen in east Lancashire hosts one of the oldest surviving former Football League clubs, with the current AFC Darwen a continuation of the original Darwen FC, founded in the early 1870s. It’s the smallest town ever represented in the top division, and it also holds some unwanted records.