This introductory chapter discusses the debates existing within the academic community on football’s origins, class issues and the role of football within a developing city such as Manchester. Manchester provides a unique opportunity to study the development of football within a conurbation. whose rapid growth and influx of cultures, ideas and skills, including sporting interests, helped football to become woven into the cultural fabric of Greater Manchester. The successes of Manchester United and Manchester City have given global exposure to the city and associated it with footballing glory. Association football has become central to Mancunian life and the sport has established perceptions of Manchester, its image and power on a global scale. Using a longue durée framework this work analyses Manchester’s footballing activity through to 1919, by which time the city was regarded as a footballing conurbation. The themes, cycles and events highlighted provide evidence of the game’s transition within a major conurbation. The chapter also explains the research methodology employed, which has been influenced by the work of historian Fernand Braudel.
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