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Football Footage From 1901-1905 Including First Film Of Man United

It’s incredible to think that this following collection of vintage videos, which were shot over 100 years ago at football grounds across England, would be added to YouTube and we’d be viewing on a computer via this thing called the World Wide Web. But no matter how much technology has changed in the hundred plus years, two things haven’t changed that much. People back then went in watch English football games in large numbers. And the game of football itself has changed hardly at all ever since then.

In the first video from the Mitchell and Kenyon Collection, pictured above, the cameras pan over the crowd before a 1902 match kicks off and then feature some highlights of the game between Sheffield United and Bury, including video of the legendary goalkeeper Fatty Foulkes. The film is narrated by the excellent Adrian Chiles.

In the second video, above, Mitchell and Kenyon visit Trent Bridge to film the world’s oldest professional football club, Notts County. There isn’t any football on display, but the crowd shots are incredible. Again it’s remarkable to think how things have changed from 1902 to now where the club was recently taken over by Middle East investors.

In addition to the above videos from 1902, here are an assortment of other unbelievable videos to view, such as:

The next video, above, features the most football action with Newcastle United at home against Liverpool in 1901 at a St James’s Park that looks quite different than the current monolith. The action is fast and furious.

Burnley against Manchester United from 1902 is featured above, which shows a small Turf Moor ground with a grass embankment in the corner. The video is believed to be the earliest video of Manchester United in action.

If you think controversial decisions by referees are a new phenomenon, you only have to watch the above video to see how a goal scored by Preston North End against Aston Villa was disallowed in controversial circumstances before Preston later scored in this game from 1905, which features flashier jerseys than the previous 1901-1902 videos.

Enjoyed watching these videos? There are several more to choose from the British Film Institute’s YouTube channel (just search for football to see the collection).

Tip: Footysphere.

About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
View all posts by Christopher Harris →

9 Responses to Football Footage From 1901-1905 Including First Film Of Man United

  1. Jesse says:

    What a nice way to start your Sunday morning with a cuppa coffee. Incredible stuff, especially the early indications of advertising and sponsorship that were to come in football. A “Smoke Bulldog” billboard was spotted at Turf Moor.

    Especially loved the disallowed goal in the PNE/Villa match, where the ball went through a whole in the side of the net. Football has truly come a long way.

  2. Charles says:

    Great stuff. Being an American it is impossible not to be jealous of the history of those teams playing each other for over 100 years now. Now those are rivalries.

    It shows the need for US to build on any heritage at all cost ( ie. keeping the Sounders name ), so that if a team ( or most teams in the Euro-leagues ) go though periods where they are not going to win they have a history and a fan base.

  3. Jose says:

    Love it when you post these videos Gaffer

  4. brn442 says:

    Interesting view towards the end of victorian era football, no shirt pulling, St James Park looking like a pub league pitch, Liverpool before they wore all red. Speaking of – there was an honourable mention of the actual “Woolrich Arsenal” in new Sherlock Holmes movie.

  5. CA_backpacker says:

    Way cool stuff, thanks Gaffer!

  6. adze88 says:

    the technique of these players even back then you can compare it to some of the modern footballers now except back then there was no right or wrong way to kick or run with a ball and so players found there own technique. Nowadays players are coached to much to move in certain way and there natural way is destroyed. look at the way the PNE player moves into the box to score at the end i mean that could easily be a an ashsley young or nani. the footage is exceptional to say the least. thanks

  7. nick devine says:

    amazing footage, am doin a project for uni where i want to try and project some of these old videos, back into modern stands. If you have any more old footage the gaffer can u send me a link to my e-mail

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