The Leaguers: The Making of Professional Football in England, 1900-1939
Manchester United is the most recognized sports team in the world, with an audience of millions around the globe, surpassing even the New York Yankees. David Beckham's exploits—and marital woes—are known worldwide. The Football Association of England has become a multi-billion dollar industry. But how did English football become not only the defining sport of the nation but also one of the most successful sports in the world? With The Leaguers, football historian Matthew Taylor tells the story of the early days of professional football in England, revealing the distant origins of today's game.
Making extensive use of archival materials from football clubs, unions, and associations, Taylor presents a compelling picture of football teams and players in the early days of the twentieth century, tracing the development of the system of professional teams from the hundreds of town, club, and school teams that dotted the countryside. The top tier of those teams comprised the Football League that by the 1920s was synonymous with the very idea of professional football in the minds of fans and sportswriters alike. The Leaguers illuminates the role played by the Football League—and by successful clubs in the League such as Arsenal and Aston Villa—as the rules, standards, and structure of the modern game were being codified. Taylor also considers the careers and influences of early players, including such well-known names as Billy Meredith, "Dixie" Dean, and Alex James. As football's popularity grew and sports media proliferated, players found themselves becoming national stars, their portraits on cigarette cards bought by fans throughout England.
The first full-length history of the early days of the Football League, The Leaguers will be essential reading for football fans who want to know how their favorite sport grew from modest origins to the worldwide phenomenon that is English football today.
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