26 September 1908

28Sep08

On this day 100 years ago the Daily Mail carried a lengthy article on ‘The cost of professional football’. Included in this was an account of how players of the period trained:

“Every day the men, in charge of the club’s trainer, are taken for a brisk walk, gymnastics, ball-punching, Indian clubs, sprinting, and, above all, skipping are also freely indulged in. Of actual football during the week very little is done; it is essential that the men should not get stale, and the men during the long season from September 1 to April 30 have quite enough of the game in actual matches.

Once, or perhaps twice, a week they may go down to the ground and indulge in some mild tackling and big kicking. Then baths and a vigorous rubbing down at the hands of the trainer, a visit from the club’s doctor if anything is wrong, and special massage treatment if any muscle is weak. This is the course usually adopted by most of the clubs, and it keeps the men busy.

That is essential, for a professional footballer has much time on his hands if left to himself, and with the very comfortable wage of £4 a week he is naturally liable to “find mischief” unless kept well employed.

During the “off” months – i.e., May, June and July – many of them play cricket, some of them being regular members of county teams. Needham, that prince of half-backs, plays for Derbyshire; Sharp the brilliant Everton forward is a regular member of the Lancashire team; Vincent, Ducat and Leach are almost as well known to the cricket-loving public as to football enthusiasts.

In August, however, strict training begins again, and club practices are fairly frequently indulged in, so that when the curtain rings up on September 1 the perfectly trained athlete steps into the football arena wound up to the minute.”

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