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A Fateful Love

Essays on Football in the North-East of England 1880-1930


Gavin Kitching

How did the world’s most popular sport begin? How was the ancient family of pastimes called «folk football» transformed into a new codified game - «association football» - which attracted such large numbers of players and paying spectators? Gavin Kitching tackles the question through a strikingly original and deeply researched history of the game in one of its most passionate strongholds: the north-east of England. Making extensive use of previously neglected newspaper reports and other sources, he shows how, in just a few years of the 1870s and 1880s, soccer evolved from its origins as a collective scramble into a dispersed and intricate passing game, exciting and rewarding for players and spectators alike. But the booming popularity of football in the Victorian North-East also had deeply ambiguous consequences - for footballers, for the clubs for which they played, and for the local press which reported the game and further fuelled its popularity. Kitching analyses these ambiguities in chapters on the professionalization and commercialisation of elite soccer in Newcastle and Sunderland and in an account of the «shamateur» Northern League clubs of the Durham coalfield. A Fateful Love concludes by tracing these ambiguities through to the present day. The visual excitement and beauty that created professional football lives on, but the media–driven «commodification» which has marked it from its beginnings has now reached levels which raise profound concerns for the game’s future.
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Bibliographic information published by Die Deutsche NationalbibliothekDie Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the DeutscheNational bibliografie; detailed bibliographic data is available on the Internet at


Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data


Names: Kitching, G. N., author.

Title: A fateful love : essays on football in the north-east of England 1880-1930/ Gavin Kitching.

Description: Oxford ; New York : Peter Lang, [2021] | Includes bibliographical references and index.

Identifiers: LCCN 2020030742 (print) | LCCN 2020030743 (ebook) |ISBN 9781789978346 (paperback) | ISBN 9781789978353 (ebook) | ISBN9781789978360 (epub) | ISBN 9781789978377 (mobi)

Subjects: LCSH: Soccer--England, North East--History--19th century. |Soccer--Press coverage--England, North East--History--19th century. |Professionalism in sports--England--History--20th century. |Soccer--Economic aspects.

Classification: LCC GV944.E5 K57 2021 (print) | LCC GV944.E5 (ebook) | DDC 796.33409427/09034--dc23

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