In the age of football clubs becoming billionaires' playthings it does no harm to go back to their beginnings. The English game's ragged, inspirational, late-Victorian roots should be better known but its development has been so phenomenally rapid it has rarely had time to take stock of the culture it has left behind.
Supporters may be only dimly aware but several senior clubs were formed as church teams, encouraged by Christian men in grim industrial districts who believed that sport offered physical exercise for lads with little to occupy them, and nourishing human values too: teamwork, friendship, courage, self-reliance.
The realisation that Everton were formed by boys in the bible class at St Domingo's Methodist Chapel in 1878 recently led Peter Lupson, a semi-retired languages teacher from the Wirral, to devote 11 years to researching the founding stories of Everton and 10 other clubs established by churches: Aston Villa, Barnsley, Birmingham City, Bolton Wanderers, Fulham, Manchester City, Queens Park Rangers, Southampton, Swindon Town and Tottenham Hotspur.
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