Did the Irish give football to the English?

Charlie Adley

Double Vision with Charlie Adley

While the FAI deal with a massive physical metamorphosis, with new bodies and attitudes replacing old, their equivalent across the Irish Sea is undergoing a struggle of an existential nature.

Only the English FA is called simply the FA. Other countries who don’t claim to have invented football have to declare their national identity in their association’s name.

Soon after taking his post in 2015, FA Chief Executive Martin Glenn talked of his desire to rebrand the FA as the EFA.

“We go to international conventions and say, “Hi, I’m Martin Glenn and I am from the FA. Which one? Obviously the English, because we invented it. Changing the name would possibly be a solution … I think we are perceived as arrogant…”

Good spot, sir. While progressive thinking is always welcome, it’s a bit of a shame that particular ship sailed centuries ago.

Back in October 1863, every English football club and school had their own rules. Some allowed players to carry the ball, others permitted kicking seven shades of shite out of their opponents. Matches were impossible to organise, because the rules were not matched.

On the 26th of that month a group of Victorian gentlemen created the Football Association, with universal rules for all English teams, but does that make England the home of football?

They shook hands, passed the port, and 156 years later complaints were made after the World Cup semifinal, where England fans sang “It’s coming home.”

Have to say, as far as offensive football chants go, ‘Coming Home’ doesn’t make the premier league. Driven by neither racism, vitriol nor misogyny, it’s a pop song, not a document of historical importance.

The news that the FA face becoming the EFA might not sound like that much of a problem, but as an Englishman I know a highly precious few out there are feeling humiliated.

To read more of Charlie’s column, please see this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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