Leather boots and brutal deaths – how football used to be

Today top footballers are highly paid athletes, but this is a recent phenomena.

In the past the ‘beautiful game’ consisted of leather boots, leather ball and brutal deaths. So let’s take a look at the development of our national game.

Origins of football

chinese leather boots

The origins of football?

No one is entirely sure, when or where football was first played. Although credited as an English invention of the upper classes, the Chinese may have been playing a ‘football like’ game some 5,000 years ago.

Here in England, during the middle ages, young men from one village would take on those from another in a rudimentary game of football. The winning team was the one that managed to wrestle a ball through a goal, usually in the vicinity of a pub in opposition territory. Such games could be played out through several miles of countryside.

Rough, drunken and taking all day to play, the early game sounds highly entertaining but dangerous. In 1280 the first written account of the kicking ball game tells us that a player was killed when he apparently ran into an opponent’s dagger.

The leather boots

leather boots

Old leather boots for football

The world’s first football league was formed here in 1888. The teams that played, sported football kits that resembled pyjamas. A long sleeved jumper and knee breeches were the order of the day, and were worn with long socks and a cap or wooly hat. Boots were made of thick leather.

A single shoe could weigh as much as a kilogram when sodden. The former Manchester United manager, Tommy Docherty, is reported to have said that during the 1950s, six weeks was the period of time required to break in a pair of boots – players used to put them in a bucket of water to soften them.

The leather ball

leather ball

Traditional leather football

As the football itself took shape, it became standardised. Originally made from eighteen strips of leather, stitched together and with an inflatable latex bladder inside, footballs were fine to kick and to throw, but heading was a different matter. The ball was waterproofed by applying dubbin but quickly became saturated with water when it rained.

Head and neck injuries were a risk factor for anyone prepared to stick their neck out to head the ball home. When Jeff Astler, the West Bromwich Albion legend died in 2002 at the age of 59, the coroner’s verdict was ‘death by industrial injury’. Astler was a renowned header of the ball. The exercise of his skill during his peak playing years of the late 1960s and 70s caused brain injury similar to that suffered by ‘punch drunk’ boxers.

The beautiful game


A not so beautiful game for goalkeepers

Simply put, the game was rough and injuries common but perhaps the worst position on the pitch was that of the goalkeeper. A keeper in possession of the ball could be charged by a player or players from the opposing team, and barged over the line for a goal. This rule was changed in 1894 so that rushing the keeper was only allowed if he was playing the ball or obstructing a player from the opposing team.

In the 1957 FA Cup final, Manchester United’s Ray Wood was left lying on the turf, out cold and with a broken cheekbone after he was shoulder-charged – legally – by Aston Villa’s Peter McParland.

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The loafers guide to chilling out

Tinker, tailor, soldier or spy — it matters not what a man does for a living. What matters is how a man loafs in his loafers.

Relaxation allows for reflection, consideration and the escape from the shackles of employment. Chilling out, gentlemen, is a fine art. So do it with style.

Comfy Chair

black leather armchair

The perfect chair for chilling out

Every man should have a comfortable perch. Whether it’s a chunky leather recliner or a vintage Frank Doerner swivel chair with matching footstool, demand some melt-into-me seating in your life. Everything begins with a priceless place to sit.

Large Plasma

plasma screen luxury apartment

Panorama perfection with plasma

A king once sat upon his throne surveying his kingdom from the many windows of his castle. These days the windows to the world are HD plasma ones and they’ll show you everything in every entertaining kingdom in the world. Whether you enjoy the afternoon game, a bit of David Attenborough or a good movie, go large and go plasma.


cigar and whisky

The perfect tipples for relaxing ripples

Your favoured choice might be a vintage bottle of scotch, or a selection of ales or ciders, or it could be a dusty bottle of wine from a forgotten cellar. Whichever it is, a tipple will cause a ripple, of relaxing vibes to fill the air. And if you’re feeling extra special, give yourself a cigar.


book case

Built to impress

A fine selection of books adds a kiss of intellectualism to any room , so you don’t need to be a bookworm to enjoy a bookcase. Though allowing your mind to be taken somewhere far away by a good book is a pleasure not to be missed. Entirely up to you of course.


beef steak

Satisfy your appetite

The fridge should be fully stocked with a selection of munch: the ingredients to your favourite meal, a few tasty items you know you shouldn’t eat, but you will anyway, and enough snacks to keep you going long past the midnight film.



Loafers - the only footwear fit for loafing

With a name that suggests taking it easy, loafers are the finishing touch to a relaxing day. Simple in design, comfy too, loafers are all you’ll need to keep your feet warm if you feel inclined to shuffle along somewhere, anywhere or nowhere in particular. The trek to the fridge can seem quite far after all.

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Why men’s shoes are more comfortable than women’s

comfortable mens shoes

Why men's shoes are more comfortable

Staying safely on the fence, there’s an assumption out there that men’s shoes are decidedly more comfortable than the shoes worn by women. This view has some weight behind it when you consider the high heels, buckles and straps found on many women’s shoes.

Yet there’s only one way to be sure about assumptions, so in the red corner we have women’s shoes and in the blue corner we have shoes for men. Let the competition for the comfiest commence …

Social — Chelsea boots Vs T-bar sandals

chelsea boots vs sandals

Chelsea boots vs T-bar sandals

With their smart, yet relatively informal look, Chelsea boots are something of an icon in the shoe world, but when it comes to good looks, the elegance and delicate features of a pair of ladies’ T-bar sandals are more than a match.

Concentrating on comfort though, the elastic sidings and snug feel of the Chelsea boots are far superior to the flimsy ankle strap and limited protection for those worried pinkies. 1-0 to the chaps.

Relaxing — outdoor mule Vs espadrilles

outdoor mule vs espadrille

Outdoor mule vs Espadrille

When it comes to taking it easy, ladies’ espadrilles not only look the part, but are flexible enough to be worn down at the beach or around the house. Men’s outdoor mules are equally flexible and it’s truly effortless to slide them on and potter around.

Both shoes are very comfy, but the fur-lined mules may be a little too snug in the summer and the canvas inners of the espadrilles may feel a little rough for the first few days. The points are shared, so 2-1 overall.

Formal — Oxford shoe Vs bridal stiletto

black oxford shoe vs bridal shoe

Oxford shoe vs Bridal stiletto

Weddings and special occasions demand stylish footwear, so a smart, shiny pair of prestige Oxford shoes are an excellent choice for men. Handmade with quality leather, these trusty shoes are extremely comfortable when broken in.

Shame we can’t say the same for the show-stopping stilettos, which may be the talk of the wedding, but walking on those heels sure looks uncomfortable. 3-1.

Flexible — brogues Vs leather boots

brown brogue vs leather boot

Brogue vs Leather boot

Whether hanging out in bohemian cafes or walking in the country it’s important to have a pair of shoes able to rise to any occasion. For women, a stylish pair of leather boots offer protection, durability and, depending on the brand and finish, look the business too.

Brogues need no introduction and are one of the most recognisable shoe designs in the world. Not only do they offer a kiss of style and flexibility, but are ultra stylish. In terms of comfort, both are very comfortable even with heels, so the honours are shared. 4-2.

Fun — creepers Vs platform shoes

creepers vs platforms

Creepers vs Platforms

It’s important to have a fun pair of shoes in your life and a fancy pair of suede creepers on your feet will certainly bring out the rock n’ roller in you. With huge, thick soles, beneath them, men feel a foot taller and will bounce the night away.

Equally distinctive and perhaps even more iconic, women’s platform shoes make for a stunning choice in footwear and have graced discos and catwalks for decades. Although, with heels added to the mix, walking in platform shoes is akin to balancing on stilts, whereas the bouncy, padded feel of the creepers is quite the opposite. It’s another win for the chaps, 5-2.

So it would seem that the assumptions are correct and the heeled, buckled and aesthetically pleasing shoes worn by women aren’t that comfortable. Now there’s a shock.

You’re free of course to go and try on a pair of stilettos if you’re not convinced, but take our word for it, men’s shoes are the champions of comfy.

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