Football Clubs’ Religious Roots

In some ways, football has become similar to religion.

Every weekend for nine months, large groups of people go on a pilgrimage to stadia across the country to support their team. They often wear replica shirts or the colors of their team to identify themselves.

However, like religion, rivalries have caused conflict, often resulting in violence between the two sides.Of course, hooligans don’t really think about religion, when they’re beating up rival fans, but they still go around thinking they’re following the true faith.

With the amount of money now in the game, it is often forgotten that several of the major clubs in Great Britain were in fact formed by church groups. And, ironically, stamping out violence was one of their aims when setting them up.

Even today, there are many schemes to remove youths from the street and get them into sport, but religion does not play as big a part in society as it once did.

Back in the 19th Century, the church was more influential and in several cases, the clubs set up by parishes have developed into multi-million pound companies.

Brother Walfrid’s Bhoys

North of the border, there is one such club that still has links with religion: Celtic.
Several clubs were formed by Irish Catholic communities, the first such being Edinburgh’s Hibernian
(their name being Latin for Ireland).

Unlike the others though, the connections between the Bhoys and their roots remains strong to this day.

They were first thought of on 6th November 1887 by the Marist Brother Walfrid (aka Andrew Kearns) in St Mary’s Church hall in Calton, Glasgow.

The club was set up with the intention of alleviating poverty in the East End of the city. The name, Celtic, was immediately adopted and reflected the club’s Scottish and Irish roots. Amazingly, the club’s first official match was played against Rangers on 6th November 1888 in what was probably the only ‘friendly encounter’ between the two teams.

The Bhoys became the first to claim the bragging rights as they won 5-2, with several of the players in the starting XI borrowed from Hibernian.

Brother Walfrid himself wanted to keep the club amateur and only had charitable intentions for the club. However, he wasn’t to get his wish, as local builder John Glass was to sign eight Hibs players without the committee’s knowledge in August 1888, whilst offering them huge huge financial incentives.

With the club now a professional outfit, they soon established themselves as one of the top teams in Scotland, winning their first trophy (the Scottish Cup) in 1892, with their first league title coming the following year. Since then they, along with Rangers (who were formed by rowers) have dominated Scottish football for over a century.

The other team to have played at Anfield

Nowadays, Everton play their home games at Goodison Park.

But, it is often forgotten that they previously played on the other side of Stanley Park, where their deadly rivals Liverpool now call home.

In fact, the Toffees can claim to be indirectly responsible for their neighbour’s formation.
Everton became the first of Liverpool’s major clubs to be formed in 1878. เว็บคาสิโนที่ดีที่สุด

The minister of St Domingo Methodist Church, the Rev. B. S. Chambers, set up a football club in order for the members of the church’s cricket team to have something to do during the winter.
The club was originally called St Domingo FC, but this was changed to Everton in November the following year after men from outside the parish wanted to come and join.

Everton became one of the 12 founder members of the Football League in 1888 and by then the club were renting out Anfield, owned by John Orrell with his friend John Houlding the leaseholder.
Eventually, Houlding was to buy the ground from Orrell and quickly increased the rent, something Everton refused to do.

So they left Anfield in 1892 and moved to the other side of Stanley Park and their present home Goodison Park, resulting in Houlding forming Liverpool.

But this isn’t where the religious links end with Everton, for Goodison Park is the only Premier League stadium with a church in its grounds – St Luke the Evangelist.

The church is located in between the triple-tiered Main Stand and the Gwladys Street End and the walls of it come within meters of these two stands.

It even has a role to play on match-days, as it sells refreshments.

Blue faith

Whilst their more illustrious neighbors were formed by employees of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company, the team from the blue half of Manchester were thought of by a rector’s daughter.

Two years after what became Manchester United came into existence, Anna Connell, whose
father Arthur was rector of St Mark’s church in Gorton, in the north-west of the city, looked to provide activities for men with nothing to do in the winter.

Like Everton, a cricket club was already in existence and more activities were needed to curb levels of violence and alcoholism in the local area.

Ironic, considering these are the sort of things now associated with football fandom.

Boozy fights often took place between different religious and racial groups and the problems were made worse by the high levels of unemployment in the area.

With the help of two church wardens, William Beastow and Thomas Goodbehere, Connell set up West Gorton (St Mark’s) FC – the club who eventually became Manchester City.

 

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