Courtesy of Mark Holland, here’s a link to a comparatively lengthy clip of a 1913 Tyneside Derby. The quality of the film is abysmal, of course, and the camera angles spectacularly unhelpful if you want to get much idea of what’s going on. But there’s enough there to suggest three things about the game of the day:
- Football wasn’t being filmed for the benefits of football fans, but as a quirky aside aimed at amusing “general” audiences. We’re not seeing highlights, but flavour pieces. (Which is a shame).
- The clumping of groups of players resembles rugby union more than modern soccer, which may hint at the enduing influence of the English “dribbling game” that was at one time such a contrast to the Scottish “passing game”.
- The two changes that have done most to shift the game on its access since 1913 might well be the lighter modern ball and the better draining/maintenance of modern pitches. What little we can see of play here shows the game circumscribed by these two factors far more than by the skill or fitness of players.
From the same set of clips, what the Beeb describe as the 1953 final is, of course, actually the 1937 one.
And here’s Carrow Road (Norwich City) in 1935. In colour, and the car park already full.. and the traditional English layout of one covered stand and 3 open banked terraces (on banks of earth or cinders, as here)