Violence on and off the pitch

Just for fun today.. some remarkable statistics from Football on Trial by Murphy, Williams and Dunning, but first, this excerpt:

Herbert Carter has died at Carlisle from injuries received while playing football last week, when he was accidentally kicked in the abdomen. Two other football players also died on Saturday from injuries received in the course of play, vis. Ellam of Sheffield, and Parks of Woodsley. These, together with the case of Partington, who died on Wednesday last, make a total of four deaths during the past week. Leicester Daily Mercury 15 Nov 1898

That rather puts into perspective the various statues, plaques and other memorials to the glorious dead that are appearing at football grounds the country wide, doesn’t it? But not as much as this:

Deaths in Yorkshire Rugby

1890/91 23

1891/92 22

1892/3 26

That’s just in Yorkshire!

And finally, because I did promise some off-the-field action too, this:

On the teams returning to the pavilion, thousands of spectators broke into the playing pitch, and proceeded to tear up the goalposts. Mounted constables arrived, and in the melee that followed, more than 50 persons were injured.

When the barricading was broken down, the rioters piled the debris, poured whisky over it, and set the wood ablaze. The flames spread to the pay-boxes, which were only some 20 yards from a large tenement of dwellings. Great alarm prevailed, particularly when the firemen were attacked by the mob, and prevented from extinguishing the fire, for no sooner had they run out the hose than the crowd jumped on it, and, cutting it with knives and stones, rendered the efforts of the firemen useless. The woodwork of the boxes was completely destroyed…

Stones and bottles were freely thrown, while at least two persons were treated for stab wounds. Over a score of constables were included among the injured as well as several firemen.

The mob repeatedly rescued the prisoners from the police, and ultimately it was deemed advisable to clear the field without taking the rioters into custody. Leicester Daily Mercury April 1909 (concerning an Old Firm derby, of course).

QUIZ: I asked you to identify five names of coaches from five quotations each giving an insight into the mind of that coach. The correct answers were:

  1. 1Luis Filipe Scolari
  2. 2Luis Filipe Scolari
  3. 3Luis Filipe Scolari
  4. 4Luis Filipe Scolari
  5. 5Luis Filipe Scolari

5 Replies to “Violence on and off the pitch”

  1. It had occurred to me that all five might apply to one chap, and that 1, 4, and 5 suggested Scolari. I couldn’t see how the other two fitted. I suppose the answer is that they were written by journalists?

  2. Yes, but it’s worse than that: all of the quotations come from one place – the Wikipedia article on Scolari – and, worse still, from the same paragraph. Just as well no one ventured themselves, really.

    As a rugby man, I am interested in your reaction to my 1890s stats – which, given the length of the season, amount to a death every week.

  3. How terrible. After reading this post I looked up football deaths in The Times, and you’re right- their’s about one a week in the 1890s. Seems to mainly be tackling by jumping on someone’s neck and breaking it, though one man had a brain hemorrhage. There’s quite a few in school matches as well.

  4. I remember reading somewhere that American Football was invented because the Ivy League had too many deaths from rugby matches – especially from a tactic called the Flying Wedge. The point of allowing one forward pass per move was to change the tactics. Your death figures leave me pondering that the world was a different place when families had more children and people died younger.

  5. I think that’s mostly correct – although gridiron had already split into a game distinct from rugby by that time, the distinguishing forward pass was indeed one of the turn-of-the-century safety measures that created the modern game.

    Looking at it from a distance, there does seem to be correlation between the amount of violence in society and the primitiveness of the medicine available to that society. Murder rates in medieval England were quite amazingly high.

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