Football has always been about finding the net. And there is no doubt that it has found it over the last five years with an explosion in newly-digitised historical material.
Digital history is the currency used by supporters in battles with business interests that control clubs. They are fuelled by passion rather than profit and are the real guardians of a club’s soul. The most celebrated recent example is Manchester United where supporters went back to its genesis as Newton Heath – even, or especially, down to the shirt.
It’s everyone’s right to go fitba’ crazy every now and again. I have only scratched the surface over the last month but before I lose them, here’s a few historical gems from the web…….
Every family history has some uncle who reputedly played for Arsenal or Rangers. I discovered my grandpa did play for Portsmouth in 1921 from Since1888 – a great site which unfortunately has now folded. The FA would do a great service in reviving it for its 150th anniversary next year.
However, you could try Brian McColl’s Scottish football archive or David Ross’s site which are near-encyclopaedic and Neil Brown has pulled together a great index of post-war English and Scottish players.
Football is also a reliable barometer of social history and there is a lot of film you can watch on British Pathe and the Scottish Screen Archive. It helps us chart changing attitudes such as to smoking. “Toffee Bob” puffs away like a lum and the Co-op sponsored film has players (below left) lighting in up in the early 1960s.But by 1982 the tide was turning. Listen here to Dr David Player on how he signed up Scotland as the first official non-smoking World Cup squad.
Club histories have probably experienced the most spectacular growth on the web spearheaded by armies of footie fans who really know about the internet and social media.
Clubs across the UK have also capitalised on the opportunities offered by the internet to tell their histories. I quite St Mirren’s.
This is just a flavour – I hope you find something to enjoy. Beware though – it can be compelling and you might find yourself surfing into extra time before you know it.