Watch 70 Years Of Archive Football Footage

By Stuart Black Last edited 30 months ago
Watch 70 Years Of Archive Football Footage
Football stars and music hall comics face off for The World's Cheeriest Charity, 1927 (see below).

Over 120 rare films of bygone football matches and historical news clips, many involving London clubs, can be found as part of the Britain On Film project run by the BFI (British Film Institute).

The Football On Film collection spans over 70 years, so now you can look up your favourite team and see how they used to play the beautiful game. As well as some of the earliest filmed games you can also see moments from the capital’s soccer history.

From 1923 there’s an eye-opening report about Chelsea coughing up a whopping £6,000 for goal machine and man with the least interesting nickname until Gazza came along: Andrew 'Andy' Wilson.

Or try the surreal and hilarious scenes from a charity match in 1927 where West Ham’s pitch looks like the Somme and the participants look like characters from Asterix.

Here are two women’s teams defying the FA’s 1921 declaration that football is “quite unsuitable for ladies” by taking the mick as they fix their hair and make-up before kicking off (the teams are from two lightbulb-making factories in Enfield and Hammersmith). Just one year later the English Ladies' Football Association was established and you can see music hall legend George Robey kicking off a women's International between England and France in 1925.

There are also adverts and dramas in the new collection, including The Arsenal Stadium Mystery from 1939, an ITV whodunnit about the poisoning of a Trojans player, featuring real footballers in the cast (it is perhaps too suspiciously reminiscent of the incident in 2006 when a bad lasagne took out the Tottenham team before playing Arsenal in a crucial match).

The Football On Film archive is part of the BFI’s wider plan to digitise 10,000 film and TV titles with plenty of fascinating London content in there to watch too.

Last Updated 18 June 2021

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