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 [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
I suppose the first question to ask is why Cardiff City are included in a supposed history of ‘English’ football in the first place. It’s a difficult one to answer without insulting any Welsh readers, because it comes down to two things to the detriment of their fine country: the first is that the likes of Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham were simply too good to play in Wales; the second is that Wales is a pretty hopeless place to football at all [...]