How Football Began: A Global History of How the World's Football Codes Were Born, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

How Football Began

A Global History of How the World's Football Codes Were Born, 1st Edition

By Tony Collins


208 pages | 12 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9781138038752
pub: 2018-08-03
Hardback: 9781138038745
pub: 2018-08-03
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315177212
pub: 2018-08-06
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This ambitious and fascinating history considers why, in the space of sixty years between 1850 and 1910, football grew from a marginal and unorganised activity to become the dominant winter entertainment for millions of people around the world.

The book explores how the world’s football codes - soccer, rugby league, rugby union, American, Australian, Canadian and Gaelic - developed as part of the commercialised leisure industry in the nineteenth century. Football, however and wherever it was played, was a product of the second industrial revolution, the rise of the mass media, and the spirit of the age of the masses.

Important reading for students of sports studies, history, sociology, development and management, this book is also a valuable resource for scholars and academics involved in the study of football in all its forms, as well as an engrossing read for anyone interested in the early history of football.


'The origins of football’s many codes and their complex relationship to each other has been one of sporting history's great grey areas, dominated by hearsay and invention. No longer. Tony Collins’ cool and illuminating How Football Began brings range, precision and sources to bear on the matter. As is often the case, the truths that emerge are infinitely more interesting than the myths they dispel.'

David Goldblatt, Author of The Ball is Round: A Global History of Football and The Game of Our Lives

Table of Contents


  1. The Failure of the Football Association
  2. Before the Beginning: Folk Football
  3. The Gentleman’s Game
  4. Sheffield: Football Beyond the Metropolis
  5. The End of the Universal Game
  6. From the Classes to the Masses
  7. Glasgow: Football Capital of the 19th Century
  8. The Coming of Professionalism
  9. Women and Football: Kicking against the Pricks
  10. Rugby Football: A House Divided
  11. Melbourne: A City and Its Football
  12. Australian Rules and the Invention of Football Traditions
  13. Ireland: Creating Gaelic Football
  14. Football and Nationalism in Ireland and Beyond
  15. American Football: The Old Game in the New World
  16. Canadian Football: Between Scrum and Snapback
  17. Rugby League Football: From People’s Game to Proletarian Sport
  18. The 1905-06 Football Crisis: North America
  19. The 1905-06 Football Crisis: Rugby
  20. Soccer: The Modern Game for the Modern World
  21. The Global Game



About the Author

Tony Collins is Emeritus Professor of History in the International Centre for Sports History and Culture at De Montfort University, UK. His previous books include Rugby's Great Split, Rugby League in Twentieth Century Britain, A Social History of English Rugby Union and The Oval World – each of which won the Lord Aberdare prize for sports history book of the year – as well as his global history Sport in Capitalist Society.

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