Victorian Football

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Another glimpse inside William Shillcock's Birmingham factory provides an insight into the making of Edwardian football boots, courtesy of these wonderful photos from the 1905 Book of Football. "The modern football boot differs from the old fashioned football boot in that it is lighter, stronger, and more durable," he explains. "Come with me into my factory and see it made. You will not regret it."

Shillcock describes the American lasting (or riveting) machine (pictured above) as "one of the most wonderful machines the world has known". It is practically a steel pair of hands," he says. "It grips, clutches and pulls the uppers where it will, and rivets where it likes. It lasts or rivets the uppers to the soles at a rate of 1,500 pairs of boots per week."

The stud-making machine (below) is an English invention. "It drives five rivets through three plates of leather and leaves the stud ready for fixing in one operation," Shillcock explains. The machine can turn out 3,000 studs per day and is so simple to operate that "a boy can work it".

His top-of-the range boot is the McGregor, like his top of the range ball named after Shillcock's friend and Football League instigator William McGregor. "That boot is, I believe, the model of what a football boot ought to be."

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