Inside out: Britain’s first indoor football league

In the early 1900s, an eccentric scheme to create Britain’s first indoor football league was opposed by the FA and ended in disaster for its protagonists.

In the winter of 1905, an American entrepreneur launched an eccentric scheme to create Britain’s first indoor football league. The venue was London’s Olympia, the largest indoor arena in the country, its grand hall seating 9,000 spectators under a 115-foot-high barrelled roof. The idea was to recruit an in-house team of famous players, and invite the country’s leading clubs to compete against them for a national indoor trophy. The man behind the ambitious enterprise was Kentuckian theatre manager Edwin Cleary, a career-hopping former trainee priest, law student, railroad builder and Shakespearean actor.

Originally published in the October 2015 issue of When Saturday Comes.

Read the full article on the Guardian website.

Published by Paul Brown

Writes about football, history, true adventure. The Guardian, Four Four Two, When Saturday Comes, The Blizzard, Longreads, Deadspin, etc. Latest book: The Ruhleben Football Association. Twitter: @paulbrownUK