Casting the net: the invention of the goal net

Written for When Saturday Comes, a piece on the 125th anniversary of the invention of the goal net, football’s original version of goal-line technology. John Alexander Brodie was one of the most prominent civil engineers to come out of the Victorian era. Based in Liverpool, he helped shape the city and its roads, and oversaw […]

A greasy, muddy slope: the history of St James’ Park

This is a short piece written for the 2014 Northern League Cup Final match programme. The match was played at St James’ Park, where Marske United beat Whitley Bay 2-1 after extra time. The Northern League is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. The first Northern League match at St James’ Park was played 125 […]

The birth of the fan: the origins of the football supporter

How did we become football fans? Many of us can trace the lineage of our support through our fathers, our grandfathers and so on. But association football has only been around for 150 years. At some point, perhaps six or seven generations ago, our ancestors discovered and embraced the emerging game, developed affinities for individual […]

The Amazing Archie Goodall: “Nothing So Extraordinary Ever Seen!”

Archie Goodall was once regarded as ‘the world’s greatest international footballer’. He played in some of the best teams of the Victorian era, at Derby County, Preston North End, Everton and Wolves, and fans loved his fearsome physical style. After football, he became an internationally-famous vaudeville star via his bizarre strongman act ‘Walking the Loop’. […]

Sing your hearts out for the lads: a history of football songs

Ever wondered where football’s most popular terrace songs come from? My feature in the latest issue of FourFourTwo attempts to find out, tracing the origins of various favourite chants and ditties, adapted from hymn books, the pop charts, music halls, and operas. “At the 1888 FA Cup Final, West Brom and Preston fans joined together […]