Cultural History of Association Football in Scotland, 1865-1902: Understanding Sports as a Way of Understanding Society

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Soccer, or football as it is called in Europe, became professionalized in the late nineteenth century. This is the story of how the sport grew in popularity, and eventually became the predominant sport in Scotland. Beyond the mere Rangers versus Celtic rivalry that has risen to epic, almost mythological proportions, this book discusses the social impact of the sport on the entire country. It shows how Scotland became a modern society and its sports and entertainment evolved along with the rest of the country, and how soccer became a national pastime.


“At the heart of the book is the complex and multi-layered relationship between football, work and the communities that incubated and supported the game. Engaging with theories and debates around social control and workplace paternalism, McDowell demonstrates that the connections between industrial patrons and the clubs they supported were characterized by association rather than management or control.”
Prof. Matthew Taylor,
De Montfort University

“This study is welcome because it looks at the development of the game more generally in the West of Scotland with particular emphasis on the grassroots of the game.”
Prof. Wray Vamplew,
University of Stirling

“There is much interest on the class relationships that existed and how these changed over time, as efforts by schools, employers and churches to control the nascent clubs gave way to more direct working-class involvement.”
Prof. W. Hamish Fraser,
University of Strathclyde

"McDowell made an impressive study that gets funnier the longer you are going into it. As a reader, it is sad to see what price Scottish football, after all, had to pay for the historical dominance of Rangers and Celtic quickly achieved. The rich flora football McDowell recreated came to a losing steam with the Old Firm's dominance." -- Prof. Torjörn Anderson, Malmö University

"This broad range of study illustrates a principal strength of the book, namely its willingness to explore the variety of settings and contexts within which the game developed and was consumed. ... The book also breaks new ground with a particularly stimulating chapter on social gatherings of early Scottish footballers. ... I hope McDowell will continue to explore the story of Scottish football into the twentieth century in the same lively and enlightening manner as he has demonstrated here." -- Alexander Jackson, National Football Museum

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