Was football invented in Glasgow?
Where was football invented? A leading historian claims it was in Scotland.
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It is a debate that has raged for years - where did football originate? Many suggest its home is south of the border, with the official history on Fifa’s website stating that the game began in 1863 in England when the English Football Association was formed.
But in 2019 a historian, author and founder of the Scottish Football Museum at Hampden Park, Ged O’Brien, claimed that football doesn’t originate in England and that the line ‘It’s coming home’ in the fans’ much sung song of the Three Lions is a “flat lie”.
Mr O’Brien says that his research shows that the modern ‘passing and running’ version of the game has been played in Scotland for 500 years.
He said clan members played it in churchyards in the north of Scotland and then brought the game to Glasgow in the 1860’s when they founded Queen’s Park Football Club, who played at Hampden Park.
He states: “Glasgow in particular and Scotland in general invented world football and most people are not aware of that. When I hear Three Lions and England saying ‘oh of course we invented football’ it drives me utterly nuts because it’s a flat lie.
“The genius of Scots over the last 500 years and particularly the clan system is what gave us football. It’s entirely a Scottish game and while I’ve still got breath in my body that’s what I am going to be trying to push.
“Football is Scotland’s game. They have been playing passing and running for hundreds and hundreds of years mostly in churchyards after the Reformation where they flattened all the gravestones.
“Glasgow became the 4th largest city in Europe and everybody from Scotland flooded in including all the guys from Aberdeenshire and Inverness with their passing and running game and they set up Queens Park Football Club.”
He added: “I don’t have a dog in this fight because I come from an Irish background. I can always turn round and say ‘It’s not like I’m personally insulted here’. I’m just giving the facts.
“No matter where you go if you are watching football you are watching a game that came out of Scotland 500 years ago and I think that’s the greatest thing that Scotland’s got. It didn’t have to invade anyone, it didn’t have to kill anyone, just by the sheer brilliance of their sporting culture they took the game to England and thereafter the world.”
Mr O’Brien also dismissed suggestions that Brazilian football was invented by Charles Miller, who was born in Sao Paolo to a Scottish father and was brought up in Southampton, and insisted that a Scots engineer introduced the game in South America.
He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Off The Ball programme: “Archie McLean invented Brazilian football. He took over the passing and running game when he went out as en engineer to helped build a cotton works in Sao Paolo.
“He passed the game to Brazil. You won’t find that anywhere in books because everybody thinks an Anglo-Scottish guy from Southampton invented Brazilian football and it’s mince, it’s utter mince.
“I’m happy for anybody who thinks they are a historian to tell me why I’m wrong.”
Mr O’Brien has researched the origins of the game in his role as chief historian of the Hampden Collection, a new project to celebrate Scotland’s historic links to football.They are aiming to raise £5,000 for a mural at the site of the first Hampden Park, which was built in 1873.
The first Hampden Park, which was home to Queen’s Park FC and Scotland’s national team from 1873 to 1884 is how the site of the Hampden Bowling Club.
In 1884, the team were forced to move from their first home to the second Hampden at Cathkin, due to the building of the Cathcart Railway. They would move once again to their third and present Hampden in 1903, when they realised that they had outgrown their current abode.
A version of this article first appeared on our sister site, The Scotsman