Playing football when it’s cold – the view from 1875

The game viewed in reference to the players is a capital one both for boys and men during the winter months, when there is a great temptation to shrink from taking open-air exercise. An excellent antidote to the attractions of the fireside, the arm chair, the three-volume novel, or the billiard-table is an hour or two in the football-field, which, even with its frequent accompaniments of fog, rain, wind, and mud, is a capital tonic both for body and mind, and conduces, like all other outdoor sports and pastimes do, to preserving the men’s sana in corpore sano. May it not be said also without exaggeration that football like cricket is no bad school for the temper, and for the development of certain moral qualities by no means to be despised? It requires pluck and dash; but it also requires caution, judgment, patience, a keen eye, and cool nerve. Without these no player can be called proficient. As the hunting-field is a good preliminary education for riding a Balaclava charge, in like manner the football-field may be viewed as affording excellent training to a man who physically or morally wants to keep his legs in delivering or sustaining an adverse shock. Many qualities necessary to success in life are necessary for success in the football-field, and are brought out by it. On the occasion of a great match being played in Ettrick Forest between the Ettrick men and the men of Yarrow, the one side backed by the Earl of Home and the other by Sir Walter Scott, one of the songs written to commemorate the game has it thus –

Then strip, lads, and to it, though sharp be the weather,

And, if by mischance you should happen to fall,

There are worse things in life than a tumble on heather,

And life is itself but a game of football.

The Graphic – Saturday 03 April 1875