Victorian Football

football riot 1880

The playing of traditional 'mob' football in the streets of Derby had been banned since 1846, so when the game was revived in 1880, the townsfolk were warned that anyone playing in the streets would be 'imprisoned without the option of a fine'. In order to suppress the game, 'a large body of police arrived by train from all parts of the country'.

This typically vivid sketch from the Illustrated Police News shows what appears to be a mass riot, with stone-throwing townsfolk battling stick-wielding police. But this is highly exaggerated. Although the police were called upon to clear some thoroughfares, and there were minor scuffles, the football game took place without major incident. 'We must say that both the police and the public kept their temper most admirably,' said the paper, somewhat contradicting their illustration.

For more on the banning of mob football in Derby see 'Playing at football is a great public nuisance', as featured in The Victorian Football Miscellany.

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