The origins and development of Association Football in the Liverpool district, c.1879 until c.1915
This thesis examines how association football evolved in Liverpool in the period before the Great War, and how the sport impacted on the lives of Liverpudlians during this period. Specific consideration is given in the first two chapters to the introduction of football to Liverpool and its progressive commercialisation. The third chapter examines the backgrounds of the city's professional footballers and their relationship with supporters and clubs. The role in Liverpool of amateur, semi-professional, and schoolboy football is considered in the fourth chapter. Identities form a common theme of the final chapters, which examine the local culture of football supporters and newspapers' relationship with the game. The study uses a wide range of primary and secondary sources, including some previously unconsidered evidence. It is argued that previous interpretations of the sport's introduction are misleading and that football actually originated as a Muscular Christian initiative by Cambridge educated clergy at the end of the 1870s. Despite this comparatively late introduction, political and business interests influenced football, and in Liverpool the sport underwent an intense process of commercialisation. Profit seems to have been a priority for the original Everton FC and its positive commercial prognosis led to the club's selection as a founder member of the Football League. The scale of importation of professional footballers by Everton and Liverpool football clubs was to the detriment of local talent, although the city's amateur game was thriving by the 1900s. Though football was immensely popular in Liverpool, the city's unusual social and economic demography meant that a significant proportion of its population were unable to attend professional matches, or to make a significant contribution to the amateur game. From the 1900s, attendances in Liverpool grew more slowly as major football clubs in other cities attracted more spectators.