I know, shocking isn’t it? Playing football in the street seems to have been quite a problem in Clarendon Park in the 19th century. There were plenty of young lads up before the police court, charged with this heinous crime. Bearing in mind that there was much less road traffic than today, and that children and young people in particular would have been very much more in evidence in the street than they are today, I can’t see the harm. And when you consider the overcrowding of the small terraced housing, it makes sense that teenage boys indulged in a game or two. Take this example from the Leicester Chronicle (November 1896) :
Walter Green (17), Edward Bostock (17), Arthur White (16), all of Avenue-road Extension, and shoe hands, and Frank Wilson (15), Knighton Fields-road East, were summoned for playing football in the Wigston-road on the 2nd inst. PC Broome proved the case, and the boys were cautioned and discharged.
Edward Bostock came from a family of at least 8, and both Walter Green and Arthur White lived with eight other people in their 2 bedroomed houses. There just was not space for everyone to sit around in the evenings reading improving books, especially when the children were strapping teenagers taking up huge amounts of leg room.
The courts didn’t seem to have a very standardised approach to dealing with the menace of street football. In April of the same year the Chronicle reported two other youths who had been fined:
Albert Austin (16), Salisbury Cottages Lorne Road, and Edgar Stapleton (15), youths, were summoned for playing football in Avenue-road Extension on the 22nd inst. Fined 2s. 6d or three days.
Given that many other Clarendon Park lads were summoned for the much more unpleasant crimes of throwing stones at cats, swearing, drinking and brawling – you’d think that the local constables would have better things to do. Especially at Victoria Park, where I have been reading of some VERY fruity goings-on. But more about that some other time…regards, Elizabeth.