Angouleme, France, summer 1877:


(Click to enlarge)

This isn’t the first colour photograph ever taken, but it’s among them. It’s taken by Louis Ducos du Hauron, a pioneer of both additive and subtractive methods of colour photography.

Things don’t always happen in their what might seem to be the right order. 1877 was FA Cup victory year for The Wanderers, a team now utterly vanished from the face of the earth. Their name was taken up by the likes of Bolton and Wolverhampton in emulation of the values the club espoused, values that have vanished with such violence as to re-emerge in our own time in comic anti-matter form. The British Council describe it thus:

Wanderers are people who roam around from place to place. The first winners of the FA Cup, in 1872, were called simply The Wanderers, a name the club adopted in 1864 after moving from east London to Battersea Park in south London. But the name also conveys the sense of a group of travelling gentlemen who play for pleasure rather than to win – a very English sentiment, particularly in the late 19th Century when most clubs were formed.

Decent colour photography in general, let alone decent colour photography of football, was anything between 58 and 100 years away at this point. Moving film was 20 years in the future. Playing for pleasure, at the top levels of sport, meanwhile, is an English value now entirely absent from the same game that nonetheless would like to see itself as the repository of all those good old fashioned English values.

It never was the repository, not really: just one of those illusions, like that of the Edwardian “Golden Age,” and I bet the 1877 Final (a 2-1 victory for Wanderers over Oxford University) was a savage, scurrilous affair unfit for public view. Certainly the Times Archive draws the veil.

5 Replies to “1877”

  1. I’ve always been quite clear on the subject of gasoline. Anyone who thinks that the Edwardian era was a golden era for gasoline is mistaken; nor can the price of gasoline claim to be a repository of the good old English values. In actual fact, what people see as the current commercialization of the price of gasoline has been going on from the very beginning, every whit as dirty as it does now. And so on…

  2. You’re probably right about it not being a Golden Age – there’s certainly enough sources to point to the corruption and foul play (and hooliganism) that marred teh game from the very start. Stanley Matthews autobiography gave a very good description of the shock he felt when he went into the Stoke first team and experienced all the ‘tricks’, horrific tackles, opponents standing on his feet when he went to try and head a ball, tugging shirts, elbows etc etc. The modern game is tame by comparison, although there is far more playacting.

    And it’s interesting how the Times archive doesn’t pay any real attention to football until the 20th century. The early games (even into the 1900s) get scant coverage, but by 1930, they are devoting pages to it (although not as much as today!)
    I guess they saw football was getting fashionable, and followed it.

  3. Yes, I too was struck by that Matthews passage.

    The Times covers internationals quite well from the beginning, but not significant club games, which is a little odd of them in my opinion.

  4. Is this using the additive or subtractive color process? My Color Photography class is wanting to know.

Comments are closed.