‘Thank God for Football’ by Peter Lupson was another Oxfam bookshop find. The book was published in 2006 and explains that of the 38 clubs who had at that time played in the Premiership 12 could trace their origin directly to a church.
The book is well researched and at only 163 pages was easy and quick to read and thoroughly enjoyable. It throws light on the fact that many clubs that were formed in Victorian times were as a result of belief of the senior local church hierarchy that they could reach the local community through education and physical activity that would also be linked with spiritual needs. In the Chapter on Southampton FC is the passage “All connected with the club are believers in muscular Christianity, and think that the advantage of strong developed limbs, a supple frame, and a quick eye, cannot be over estimated.”
Many of these teams were also adjunct to the cricket team who were looking for a sport to keep them fit in the winter. The clubs were also often stated in deprived areas as an alternative to the daily monotonous grind of work and a social life that was alcohol based. Some of the teams formed had a temperance culture. Not only is it a book about football but is also a great social reference of the times.
The Teams in question are:-
Aston Villa FC – The Aston Villa (Wesleyan) Football Club
Barnsley FC – Barnsley St Peters Football Club
Birmingham City FC – Small Heath Alliance (Out of Holy Trinity Church)
Bolton Wanderers FC – Christ Church Football Club
Liverpool FC and Everton FC – St Domingo Football Club
Fulham FC – St Andrew’s Cricket and Football Club
Manchester City FC – St Mark’s (West Gorton) Football Club
Queens Park Rangers FC – St Jude’s Institute Football Club
Southampton FC – The St Mary’s Young Men’s Association Football Club
Swindon Town FC – Swindon Town Football Club (Out of Christ Church Swindon)
Tottenham Hotspur FC – Hotspur Football Club (Out of All Hallows Church Tottenham)
Thank God for Football by Peter Lupson 2006. Published by ‘Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge’