Music sheet cover, 'The National Football Song'

Music sheet cover, 'The National Football Song'

Music sheet cover
'The National Football Song'
Designed by H. G. Banks, words by L. Myers, music by C. A. Wills
About 1880
Museum no. S.3131-2010
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

'The National Football Song' is a celebration of football, both Association football and Rugby football, and this music sheet cover depicts the David Beckhams and Johnny Wilkinsons of the day. Each named player is in a roundel (circular portrait), characteristic of music sheet designs by H.G. Banks. The two types of ball are also illustrated, above and below the flags. Both soccer and rugby developed from the same game but there was such confusion between those who played it as a contact sport and those who didn't that in 1863 there was a meeting of representatives in London to clarify the fundamental rules. It was after this meeting that those who played rugby-style football went their own way, and the Football Association was founded for those who favoured a game that forbade tripping, shin-kicking, and carrying the ball. In 1871 the Rugby Football Union was founded. One man illustrated here, A.J. Gould, who played for London before returning to his native Wales, is credited as having invented the idea of having four three-quarters in attack and defence.