Long forgotten archive footage proves that a hundred years ago
soccer was already the world's favourite game.
The 28 films listed below come from the National Film and Television
Archive, London, unless otherwise stated. Selection and notes by Luke
BALL OF FORTUNE, THE [TRAILER]
(Mercury, UK 1926)
35mm, 45ft, 1' (16fps)
A trailer for an otherwise lost football feature film, starring the
legendary Billy Meredith of Manchester City, Manchester United and Wales.
BLACKBURN ROVERS V WEST BROMWICH
Dir: Arthur Cheetham; 35mm, 42ft, 1' (16fps)
The earliest surviving film of an actual game, played between the English
sides Blackburn Rovers and West Bromwich Albion (in stripes) at Blackburn
in September 1898. Originally 250ft in length, the film was taken from
a single viewpoint behind one goal and shows action from both halves
of the match. Blackburn won 4-0.
CUP FINAL 1921 GREATEST EVENT IN
FOOTBALL HISTORY (Topical, UK 1921)
35mm, 505ft, 8' (16fps)
Topical Budget newsreel coverage of the F.A. Cup Final between Tottenham
Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers, played at Stamford Bridge. Tottenham
won 1-0. Topical Budget used nine cameramen in what is a considerable
advance in sports filming (not least in having two cameras capture the
goal). However, it poured with rain in the first half but was dry in
the second, and the keen-eyed may note that the action is certainly
not in perfect chronological order of shots.
CUP FINAL REPLAY: NEWCASTLE UNITED
V BRADFORD CITY (Gaumont, UK 1911)
35mm, 271ft, 4' (16fps)
The replay of the 1911 F.A. Cup final (see above) took place three days
later at Manchester. Gaumont somewhat hurriedly filmed the entire match
from a single mid-pitch camera position, positioned very low down. Bradford
beat Newcastle 1-0.
CUP 1923, THE (Topical, UK 1923)
35mm, 324ft, 5' (16fps)
The most famous of all F.A. Cup Finals was that between West Ham Unitedand
Bolton Wanderers in 1923, the first to be held at the new Wembley Stadium.
An estimated crowd of 200,000 poured into the stadium and onto the pitch,
incidentally ruining the exclusive camera position of newsreel rights-holder's
Topical Budget, but producing some remarkable scenes (the policeman
on the white horse became famous). Bolton won 2-0.
ENGLISH CUP FINAL: BARNSLEY V NEWCASTLE
UNITED (Warwick, UK 1910)
35mm, 247ft, 4' (16fps)
The Warwick Trading Company's coverage of the 1910 F.A. Cup Final at
Crystal Palace, a 1-1 draw between Newcastle United and Barnsley (Newcastle
won the replay 2-0). The incidental detail is fascinating, but the camerawork
is particularly clueless.
FIERCEST FOOTBALL (Topical, UK
35mm, 92ft, 1' (16fps)
The predecessor of soccer and rugby football was street football, where
opposing sides from a village, often numbering hundreds, would play
a rowdy game without rules that lasted until sunset. The tradition continued
into the twentieth century, as shown in this Topical Budget newsreel
item covering the game at Ashbourne in Derbyshire.
FOOTBALL (Lumière, F 1897) Dir:
Alexandre Promio; 35mm, 40ft, 1' (16fps) Archives du Film du Centre
National de la Cinématographie Members of an unidentified team take
part in a practice football game in London. The earliest surviving football
FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION CHALLENGE
CUP FINAL TIE: ASTON VILLA V HUDDERSFIELD TOWN (Gaumont, UK 1920)
35mm, 428ft, 7' (16fps)
The 1920 F.A. Cup Final, the first post-war final, played at Stamford
Bridge between Aston Villa (dark shirts with light sleeves) and Huddersfield
Town (in stripes). This kind of routine coverage with a small camera
team would be replaced by the advances made in the filming of the 1921
final. Aston Villa won 1-0 after exra time (and for once a cameraman
managed to capture the goal).
FOOTBALL CUP FINAL 1921, THE
(Gaumont, UK 1921) 35mm, 273ft, 5' (16fps)
Topical Budget (see above) held the exclusive rights to the filming
of the 1921 F.A. Cup Final, and made good advantage of the fact. Their
rivals Gaumont Graphic were forced to 'pirate' illicit footage of the
event, including awkward shots between heads in the crowd and some shots
of play which are clearly not in the Stamford Bridge stadium.
FOOTBALL EN FAMILLE (Pathé, F 1910)
35mm, 314ft, 5' (16fps)
A crazy Pathé comedy about a family which creates havoc when it decides
to take up football for exercise.
(FOOTBALL FINAL - ENTRY OF TEAMS)
(Paul's Animatograph Works, UK 1901)
35mm, 38ft, 1' (16fps)
The earliest surviving film, with the film below, of a F.A. Cup Final,
played between Tottenham Hotspur v Sheffield United (in stripes) at
Bolton. The original game was a 2-2 draw; here we see the players coming
on for the replay (note Sheffield's famous giant goalkeeper, 'Fatty'
(FOOTBALL FINAL - PLAY IN PROGRESS)
(Paul's Animatograph Works, UK 1901)
35mm, 81ft, 1' (16fps)
Continuing from the film above, scenes of actual play from the F.A.
Cup final replay match between Tottenham Hotspur and Sheffield United.
Tottenham won 3-1.
FOOTBALL SEASON BEGINS: WOOLWICH
ARSENAL v LIVERPOOL (Gaumont, UK 1911)
35mm, 59ft, 1' (16fps)
Typical newsreel coverage (from Gaumont Graphic) of a standard pre-war
Football League match between Woolwich Arsenal (the team changed its
name to just Arsenal in 1913) and Liverpool.
FOOTBALL: THE MOST POPULAR OF ALL
GAMES (Stoll, UK 1924)
Dir: John Betts; 35mm, 717ft, 11' (18fps)
Captain John Betts made numerous sports traning and interest films during
the 1920s and 1930s. This instructional film, from the Sporting Life;
and what not to do but how to do it series, illustrates assorted football
skills in normal and slow motion, demonstrated by Harold Fleming of
(FRANCE V ENGLAND) (Gaumont, UK
35mm, 123ft, 2' (16fps)
Newsreel library footage of an international match played between France
and England at the Colombes stadium, Paris. England had yet to lose
to a non-British team (they would do so for the first time in 1929 in
Spain), and won this game 5-1, with two goals from Dixie Dean. The rapid
panning shots and the low shots behind the goal make for some brief
but interesting coverage.
FUSSBALLWETTSPIEL UM DIE DEUTSCHE
MEISTERSCHAFT IN KARLSRUHE (Welt-Kinematograph, G 1910)
35mm, 177ft, 3' (16fps)
Good newsreel coverage of a game between Karlsruhe Fussball Verein and
KFC Phönix, played at Karlsruhe.
GAUMONT'S CUP FINAL FILM 1911:
NEWCASTLE V BRADFORD CITY (Gaumont, UK 1911)
35mm, 252ft, 4' (16fps)
Gaumont's coverage of the 1911 F.A. Cup Final, played at Crystal Palace,
between Newcastle United (in stripes) and Bradford City, typical of
the basic coverage for Cup Finals at this time, with one camera mid-pitch
and another behind each goal. The game ended in a 0-0 draw.
GAUMONT'S CUP FINAL FILM 1912:
BARNSLEY V WEST BROMWICH ALBION (Gaumont, UK 1912)
35mm, 351ft, 6' (16fps)
A charming record of the 1912 F.A. Cup Final between Barnsley (in the
dark shirts) and West Bromwich Albion (in light stripes), played at
Crystal Palace, capturing much of the atmosphere of the pre-war game.
The final ended in a 0-0 draw.
GERMAN PROFESSOR LEARNS ENGLISH
FOOTBALL (Topical, UK 1924)
35mm, 54ft, 1' (16fps)
Professor Herz of Berlin University examines the training methods of
West Ham United in this Topical Budget newsreel item.
HARRY THE FOOTBALLER (Hepworth,
Dir: Lewin Fitzhamon; 35mm, 530ft, 9' (16fps)
Breathless excitement, as Harry (played by Hay Plumb), Hepworth's very
own Michael Owen, is kidnapped just before the start of the big game.
Will his sweetheart (Gladys Sylvani) rescue him in time?
HELLO FOOTBALL 1926-1927! (UK 1926)
35mm, 307ft, 5' (16fps)
An engaging interest film, full of rich period detail, introducing us
to Burnley football team, one of the leading English teams of the period,
as they train for the 1926-27 season.
(ITALY V SWITZERLAND FOOTBALL MATCH)
(Gaumont, UK 1930)
35mm, 139ft, 2' (16fps)
Gaumont Graphic newsreel library footage of an international football
match between Italy and Switzerland, played before Benito Mussolini
in Rome on 9 February 1930 in Rome. Italy (in the light coloured strip)
JEUX OLYMPIQUES PARIS, LES 1924
(Rapid Film, F 1924)
35mm, 597ft, 8' (20 fps)
One section from the thirteen-reel (196 minutes) coverage of the 1924
Paris Olympic Games, showing the football final between Uruguay and
Switzerland. In the years before the World Cup (founded in 1930 and
first won by Uruguay) the Olympic football tournament was the sport's
major international tournament, and here Europe saw for the first time
the South American mastery of the game. Uruguay won 3-0.
KNOCKING AT WEMBLEY'S DOOR (Topical,
35mm, 74ft, 1' (16fps)
By contrast, a typical example of a standard newsreel story on a 1920s
football match. This Topical Budget item shows Arsenal (featuring the
great forward Charlie Buchan) beating Southampton 2-1 at Stamford Bridge
in the F.A. Cup semi-final.
MATCH OF THE SEASON, THE (Topical,
35mm, 69ft, 1' (16fps)
Topical Budget newsreel coverage of the annual England v Scotland match,
played at Hampden Park, Glasgow. Scotland won 1-0.
QUITE UNFIT FOR FEMALES (Topical,
35mm, 79ft, 1' (16fps)
The first of three Topical Budget football news stories is a light-hearted
item on women's football, quite common and popular in the early 1920s.
(STOCKHOLM: THE OLYMPIC GAMES,
1912) (Pathé, UK 1912)
35mm, 320ft, 5' (16fps)
The opening section from this coverage of the Olympic Games at Stockholm
starts with tennis, then shows the football tournament featuring Sweden
v Netherlands, and Denmark v Great Britain in the final. The early Olympic
Games were the first international football competitions. Because of
the amateur rule Great Britain could not send a full strength side,
but still won the final 4-2.