If you head to Aldgate Square at the moment, there’s a free public exhibition all about the history of football in London.
Presenting historical photographs, prints and maps from their collections, the exhibition reveals some of the personalities and events that shaped the development of the game in the city, including raucous games of medieval “folk football’, the first known women’s team in the capital and a long-forgotten cup final.
London can be said to be the birthplace of football, as the earliest reference to a ball game considered to be an early version of the sport dates to 1170, in William FitzStephen’s Description of London.
In the City, it’s thought that various guilds and Livery companies formed early football teams, although it was banned in 1314 due to concerns that the crowds it attracted were becoming a problem. The ban didn’t last long, and in 1421 there is the earliest record of a formal football team, set up by the Worshipful Company of Brewers.
Beer and football have been in a tight embrace ever since.
There’s also a revelation that the growing popularity of ladies playing football at the turn of the 19th-century resulted in the Football Association passing a rule banning men and ladies teams competing, stifling the growth of women’s football for many years.
The exhibition is free to visit and open until Thursday 15th July.