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Thread: New research: Origins of association football in Ireland

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    New research: Origins of association football in Ireland

    The early history of Irish football continues to be revisited: new research published last month in the Sport in History journal now describes two newly discovered early matches, both in Belfast: one in 1875 and one in 1877.

    This means that the oldest recorded association football match in Ireland is now known to have taken place in December 1875: a practice match played by members of the Ulster Cricket Club at Prospect, Ballynafeigh.

    Here is the abstract of the article:

    According to its foundation myth, association football was introduced to Ireland when one man, John McAlery, personally organised an exhibition match between two Scottish teams in Belfast in 1878 and went on to form the first Irish association club in 1879 and the Irish Football Association in 1880. Based on new research, this article seeks to revise this traditional account, by presenting evidence of earlier association matches, including one in 1875: the earliest recorded association match thus far discovered. It also uses primary sources and a critical re-examination of secondary sources to re-evaluate the role of McAlery, and suggests that others ought also to be credited for the efforts that were made to establish association football in Ireland from the mid-1870s. The article also considers, but dismisses, other extant claims of early association football in Ireland, and, taking stock of recent scholarship, points to the existence of other more informal, less organised and less successful processes of diffusion in Ireland, prior to and contemporaneous to, but independent of, that which was ultimately successful in Ulster.
    The article also discusses Limavady's 1876 claim and the reference to football in Coleraine in the 1860s.

    And it references recent research by Paul Gunning about football in Connacht, which has discovered that the Sligo Football Club played association football in March 1879 (six months before Cliftonville) - presenting a challenge to Cliftonville's status as the first football club in Ireland to play association rules. Though it does conclude that Cliftonville is still certainly the first association football club in Ireland, in the sense that it was the first club formed specifically to play association rules.


    http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/...3.2017.1319409
    If you're interested in this, contact me here.

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    Very interesting stuff BC - thanks for posting it !

    Is there a way to read the article without having to pay for it ?

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    Send me a message with your email address.

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    A summary of the new research in today's Belfast Telegraph

    http://m.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/spor...-36146008.html

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    an exceptionanal read......
    a little surprised more interested being is'nt shown in the republic, considering its now known soccer was played in Sligo in 1879 and tullamore were playing banngher undedr association rules about the same time......
    Last edited by historynut; 19/09/2017 at 10:55 PM.

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    Thanks historynut

    Surprising lack of interest in the north too!

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    some of us may be a dying breed...............

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    Yes there is a general lack of interest in the history of football here. Great the Belfast Tele ran with it. I think the Sligo Champion might go for it.

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    The third newly discovered match was played in Mallow, County Cork, on November 28, 1877 between two schools - Penn's and Lismore College.
    Great, another two teams to be accused of letting die.
    A man can have no greater love than give 90 minutes for his friends.

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    "Sport in Co. Tipperary, 1840-1880" by Pat Bracken (published by Cork University Press in 2018) has a number of references to the origin of the game in the county and looks like a nice, lively read. He records the earliest reported game in the county as being that between the 7th Hussars and the 15th Regiment in 1875 with local clubs being formed at Carrick-on-Suir in 1879 and Kilcash in 1880.

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    Thanks, Forza! Quirky stuff!

    The book is available at https://www.corkuniversitypress.com/...1782052746.htm - 39 quid, which isn't that bad for an academic book. His PhD is online too. Mike Cronin co-supervised, which is a reliable sign of good work.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ForzaForth View Post
    "Sport in Co. Tipperary, 1840-1880" by Pat Bracken (published by Cork University Press in 2018) has a number of references to the origin of the game in the county and looks like a nice, lively read. He records the earliest reported game in the county as being that between the 7th Hussars and the 15th Regiment in 1875 with local clubs being formed at Carrick-on-Suir in 1879 and Kilcash in 1880.
    Is that the earliest recorded football game of any code?

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    Have recently found a much earlier game which was held in February 1869 in Duncannon, Co. Wexford. It took place between the soldiers garrisoned in Duncannon Fort and a local team brought together by Nicholas Gifford, a former British Army soldier. The match ended in a 2-0 victory for the local side. Nicholas Gifford lived in Ballysop House which was eventually demolished to make way for JFK Memorial Park. It is clear from the report that the local side had never played football before but that the garrison were well-versed in the techniques of football.

    The report of the game is carried in the 27 February 1869 edition of the Wexford People which is available on microfilm in Wexford Library. It is also available on the subscription websites, Findmypast and the British Newspaper Archive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ForzaForth View Post
    Have recently found a much earlier game which was held in February 1869 in Duncannon, Co. Wexford. It took place between the soldiers garrisoned in Duncannon Fort and a local team brought together by Nicholas Gifford, a former British Army soldier. The match ended in a 2-0 victory for the local side. Nicholas Gifford lived in Ballysop House which was eventually demolished to make way for JFK Memorial Park. It is clear from the report that the local side had never played football before but that the garrison were well-versed in the techniques of football.

    The report of the game is carried in the 27 February 1869 edition of the Wexford People which is available on microfilm in Wexford Library. It is also available on the subscription websites, Findmypast and the British Newspaper Archive.
    Fascinating. Thanks for sharing this.

    From reading the report, it wasn't played under Association rules (which in 1869 would have been unlikely), but seems like it was more of a soccer-type game (kicking) than a rugby-type (carrying). It says 'the goal was a quarter of a mile long', which I assume means there was a quarter of a mile between the two goals (about four times the length of a current football pitch); 'the mode of kicking was a kind of shove-kick - the foot was not to be drawn back', which is very curious; and it was fifteen-a-side.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BelfastCrusader View Post
    Fascinating. Thanks for sharing this.

    From reading the report, it wasn't played under Association rules (which in 1869 would have been unlikely), but seems like it was more of a soccer-type game (kicking) than a rugby-type (carrying). It says 'the goal was a quarter of a mile long', which I assume means there was a quarter of a mile between the two goals (about four times the length of a current football pitch); 'the mode of kicking was a kind of shove-kick - the foot was not to be drawn back', which is very curious; and it was fifteen-a-side.
    19th century tiki taka :-)

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