The railways played a major role in the commercial development of football as a spectator sport by making it possible for games to be contested by far apart teams, as well as for those matches to be attended. In 1911 for example the railways allowed Bradford City and Newcastle United supporters to watch the FA Cup Final and newspaper reports document the invasion of the capital by northerners.
As many as 15,000 Bradfordians are understood to have travelled to London on 22nd April, 1911 to witness the FA Cup final and then 10,000 went to Manchester for the replay on the following Wednesday.
Railway companies have historically advertised rail travel for football games and there were adverts in both the City and Avenue programmes through to the 1960s promoting rail travel to/from home games. In 1911 even the Great Western Railway organised special trains to London for the FA Cup Final as evidenced by these surviving handbills.
Comparative excursion tickets from Bradford to London that day cost 11 shillings (11/-) which was a not insignificant amount – nearly half the average weekly wage at the time. Undoubtedly the cost would have deterred a lot of people from travelling and the programme for the Newcastle United league fixture on 8th April, 1911 reported that the City directors tried unsuccessfully to secure discounted train tickets.
Until modern times few people could afford to follow their football club to every away game and historically it tended to be high profile cup games that were associated with mass followings. Such trips were extremely popular and before World War One, both Bradford clubs nominated away fixtures for an annual club excursion.
Elsewhere on this blog is my feature about the day when Portsmouth and Chelsea fans came to Bradford by trains in February, 1912 to attend FA Cup ties at Park Avenue and Valley Parade. You can read more about the historical significance of the railways on the development of Bradford sport by following the link to VINCIT, the online journal of Bradford sport history.
I have written widely about the history of sport in Bradford: Links to my features on the history of Bradford sport
My recent article on VINCIT tells the long forgotten story of Shipley FC.
Read about the origins of women’s football in Bradford – feature updated with new images.
Elsewhere on this blog you can find my programme articles from earlier games this season and last. The drop down menu above provides links to archive images, book reviews and features on the history of Bradford sport that I have written.
Published on PLAYING PASTS in Feb-19: Football clubs and how they fail. (I am presenting a paper on the same theme at the International Football History Conference in Manchester in June, 2019.)
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