The Origins of the Football League: The First Season by Mark Metcalf (Review)

Mark Metcalf’s The Origins of the Football League is one of the most fascinating soccer books I have ever read.  Metcalf’s diligent research gives us a firsthand look into the first season of England’s Football League, something that truly revolutionized the sport of soccer.

You hear about the challenges faced by those early footballers and the journalists that followed them. Uneven pitches, sketchy weather, unforgiving equipment, pitch invasions, uncertain referees, the list goes on and on. But the work they did gave us so much.  Simply put, we wouldn’t have the EPL without Football League founder William McGregor and the men that played in the first season.  They were truly pioneers of the beautiful game.

You’ll hear great stories, many from actual articles of the day.  You’ll learn about an invincible Preston side and lowly teams like Stoke and Notts County.

It’s amazing how far we have come. Top teams like Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham, and Liverpool weren’t around for that first season. I guess you could say that Newton Heath FC got a mention in the book, but they were far from the global superpower that Man U is today.

There is even a register of players that were part of that first season.  We get a short bio of each player, telling us what they did in 1888-1889 and where their careers went from there.

The photos and newspaper clippings found throughout the book are priceless. They give us a rare glimpse into the early days of football in England.

As a bonus you get to hear about the 1888/89 FA Cup and Home International Championship.

This is a book that you must have if you love English football or are interested in the history of the beautiful game.  It is a great read that is incredibly enjoyable.