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Amateur Dramatics: the high ideals of Wycombe’s Wanderers who refused to go pro

In 1877, reigning FA Cup champions Wanderers FC – midway through a three-year winning streak that took their total number of Cup titles to five – came to the Buckinghamshire town of High Wycombe for an exhibition match. Their visit must have left quite an impression. Seven years later, when a group of young men from the town formed their own football club, they adopted the name ‘Wanderers’ in honour of these prestigious guests.

The founders of North Town Wanderers (as they were called until 1887) worked in the High Wycombe’s famous furniture trade. These men must have enjoyed 1877 a great deal because in addition to Wanderers FC, the town was also visited by none other than Queen Victoria, making a rare public appearance in her widowhood to honour the birthplace of the ‘Windsor’ chair. This industry would provide the club’s ‘Chairboys’ nickname [...]
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This town ain’t big enough for both of us: York City’s long fight for survival

Considering York is one of the oldest cities in England, and that Yorkshire was the birthplace of the game of football as we know it (vis-à-vis the famous ‘Sheffield Rules’), it seems odd that York City FC weren’t founded until 1908. But the Sheffield teams aside, most of Yorkshire’s football clubs as we know them today came together in the first decade of the 20th century. Along with York, Bradford City, Hull City, Leeds City (the first occupants of Elland Road) and Huddersfield Town were all formed within one five-year period.

The reason for this delay in adopting the sport, aside from the usual Yorkshire resistance to modern trends, was most likely that until this time these towns had been dominated by their respective rugby league sides. The game of rugby had spawned from the same roots as ‘Association’ football – the catching, running and kicking sports first played at English public schools. Former students of these schools took the games back to the provinces and so further variations developed in isolated pockets before spreading nationwide. Soccer evolved in the Midlands, Lancashire and London, while most of Yorkshire happened, somewhat ironically, to favour the game started at Rugby School, Warwickshire [...]
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What’s in a Name: the sentimental story of Accrington’s two Stanleys

‘Accrington Stanley… who are they?’

It’s a good a question, even when not delivered in a strained impersonation of a Scouse youth. The League Two team now known as Accrington Stanley are technically not the same club as Accrington FC, one of the founding members of the Football League, nor are they Stanley Villa, from whom their distinctively English name comes from. Only technically, though [...]
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I Predict A Riot: how Preston’s Scotch professors upturned football’s social hierarchy

If Preston North End were a pop band, they would be those boisterous lads from across the South Pennines, the Kaiser Chiefs. Their first album would have gone six-times platinum and spawned four hit singles, then they would have scored one more major hit before drifting into harmless obscurity, their members known for their celebrity status rather than the music they produce. They would continue to fill arenas but even their most die-hard fans would probably admit to longing for bygone days [...]
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That was the year that was for Nottingham Forest

1865 and all that

Not technically a ‘brief history’ in the context of this website, but it should be of interest to readers regardless, my article about Nottingham Forest’s birth in 1865 was published on LTLF on New Year’s Eve.

2015 marked the club’s 150th anniversary and naturally the year saw a host of new Forest history books being published. However, I felt that many of these titles failed to put the club’s creation into the proper context, so my piece sets out the wider picture of 1860s football and the social hierarchy that fostered it.

The article discusses the likes of Sheffield FC, Notts County, Wanderers FC and Corinthians – and where the ‘Foresters’ fitted into the story of gentlemen amateurs and the emerging working class who would later claim the game as their own.

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