Football has had a long and evolutionary history taking in local rivalries, struggle with authority, class warfare and co-optation, and paganism; but enough of St Andrews. Everything we know about football today originated on the other side of the city: from fixture congestion, to dead rubbers, from runaway leaders to mid-table obscurity, cynicism and playing for the draw.
All because the Villa’s lushly bearded William McGregor was fed up with cup ties and friendlies and knocked football-admin heads together from around the country and instigated the Football League. So we not only have him to thank for the spread of the sport across the week and the country, but also for professionalism. For without regular games there was no way to build crowds and make money. So Birmingham created and at once ruined the modern game. It created John Terry.
And in reality created Port Vale verses Yeovil on a wet Tuesday night in November, not quite what he intended when he wrote: “clubs are compelled to take on teams who will not attract the public.”