Victorian Railways - Football History - 1900-1914

By the 1900's, the railways provided fast and inexpensive travel in UK.  In the 1901 FA Cup, 114,000 people attended the match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Sheffield United FC at Crystal Palace.

Thus, many Football clubs chose their grounds on the basis of the proximity of a railway station.  Chelsea FC, formed in 1905, selected Stamford Bridge as its home ground (near White Hart Lane station).  In 1906, a station was opened at Ashton Gate, specifically to serve Bristol City FC and Arsenal FC moved to its Highbury ground, due to its closeness to the London Underground station at Gillespie Road.

Characters began to emerge in the game.  Men like Sunderland's legendary goalkeeper, Leigh Roose.  Described as having "the eccentricity of genius", he was also an entertainer and would often sit on the crossbar of the goal at half-time.  Roose was both clever and daring, with an extrovert personality.  He played like a 'sweeper' of modern times, spending a lot of his time away from his goal and even the penalty area.  He would bravely charge into a pack of men to gain the ball, something few others would think of doing.  He often berated other goalkeepers for their comparatively timid ways "the reason why goalkeepers don't come out of goal more often, is due to their regard for personal consequences". And "a good goalkeeper should not keep goal along stereotype lines ... and is at liberty to cultivate originality...players with the intelligence to devise a new move or system - and the application to carry it out, will go far".

Roose took advantage of Rule 8 of the FA's laws "The goalkeeper may, within his own half of the field of play, use his hands, but shall not carry the ball".  He was one of the few who could accurately kick the ball from the half-way line towards the opposing goal - and still make it back to his own goal in the event of the failure of his team to gain possession.  In 1912, due to so many complaints about Roose's tactics, the FA changed Rule 8 to state "The goalkeeper may, within his own penalty area, use his hands, but shall not carry the ball."  Roose could no longer carry the ball within his own half - and had to bounce the ball inside his penalty area.

 

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Leigh Richmond Roose (1877-1916), while playing for Stoke FC in 1904

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