The Origins and Development of Association Football in Nottinghamshire c.1860-1915
Home to two of the oldest football clubs in the world, Nottinghamshire was a hub of the association game. Yet it barely receives a mention in scholarly studies of football. Based predominantly on original research in the local press, this thesis offers new knowledge with regards networks, professionalism, amateurism and identity through its study of the game’s formation and development in relation to the county between 1860 and 1915. Nottinghamshire was especially involved in networks with Sheffield and the London based FA early in soccer’s history. Games continued to be played with differing rules depending on the region with Nottingham also having its own rules. This thesis demonstrates how it was mainly the FA Cup, but also other national events such as the North-South game and England-Scotland game, which were major influences in ensuring that the game played under the FA's rules became the dominant football code. This study examines how the FA Cup fuelled professionalism too as sides sought advantage over others. Nottinghamshire clubs felt justified in using professional methods because of professionalism in cricket. This aided their stance in the debates on legalizing professionalism which Nottinghamshire helped influence. Amateurism, meanwhile, remained a strong feature of the local game and Nottinghamshire’s staunch amateurs certainly played a prominent role in the Amateur Football Association during its split from the FA. Football was part of the identity of Nottingham and its county. This was expressed especially with the slightly varying FA Cup celebrations in 1894 and 1898. Civic leaders were keen to associate themselves with football early in the game’s development as it became a respected part of the county’s culture. The Notts-Forest rivalry was intriguing too: for a period it was class based; there was always an element of town versus county to it; sometimes the clubs were friends; at other times they were bitter enemies. The local press reflected and reinforced enthusiasm for the game. And when those from the area travelled, they took the game with them aiding the game’s expansion through work links or tours either primarily for the love of the game or as promoters of the sport.
- PhD