How Has Football Changed Over the Years?

By  //  December 6, 2020

Like any good journey, football’s evolution over the past 157 years is defined by a state of continued momentum and energy, both of which serve to carry the game – and, of course, its fans – ever higher.

The legacy of the game itself is so strong that it would be easy, at first glance, to imagine that very little has changed – if anything at all.

The awe and excitement it generates, both in the stalls and from home, support a continued, unbroken narrative that needn’t be ascribed to time or place; spectators in the nineteenth century would have felt, for the most part, the same way we do.

The bracing cold, the cheers vibrating through our feet, and the electrical current shared by all who stand at the sidelines – these remain unchanged, no matter when or how we show our support.

And yet, when we stand back, we can begin to appreciate quite how much the game has changed – how unpredictable the world of football really is – and the lightyears it has traversed in such a short space of time.

For the Fans

The stadiums themselves are equipped to offer fans an unforgettable experience; while once we would have braved the elements for a square foot of space at the sidelines, we can now enjoy multi million pound destinations that stand as a testament to the emotional, as well as the financial, ties countless people across the globe feel with the game.

Similarly, fans can visit the best online sports betting sites to stake their own claim on the fate of each game, where once they would have had to place their bets via telegram, or in-person in the bookers. They can create their own fantasy teams and compete in playing out their own daydreams against others.

Social media offers a playing ground for fans and players alike, and while the players themselves have been accelerated to the pinnacle of fame – far higher than their predecessors just a few short decades ago – there exists now a line of communication between ‘us’ and ‘them’ about which earlier fans could only have dreamed.

For the Game

Gameplay has, without a shadow of a doubt, grown more vicious. With premier players making upwards of £1,000,000 a month, and the immeasurable weight bearing down from fans, sponsors, and recent memories of history-making plays, there is a tangible quality to the pressure mounting around the game.

Of course, there have been definitive changes to the game itself. The nineties saw a tremendous change when the back-pass regulation was brought into play; arguably, this change – seemingly minor to anyone on the fringes – was responsible for an incredible boon to the game following a few stale years, and ensured an exciting emergence into the new millennium.

Similarly, and much more recently, the introduction of Video Assistant Referee ahead of the 2018 World Cup prompted a swift revolution within the sport – one which already promises some considerable changes to the sport as it gains significance for referees and the players themselves.

The changes made to the game, while ostensibly few and far between, create changes that quickly become immeasurable to the entire industry. From the players to the play itself, nothing remains on an even keel – a fact which is, undisputedly, central to the lasting appeal of the game.

For the World

The old fans – those who braved dark December nights and scorching summers to join in that restless enthusiasm for the game – will still remember a time when those tangible elements of the game were simpler. There was no mountain to climb in order to reach one’s seat, and the only representations of the players themselves were printed onto football cards – a world away from the complex graphics we keep on our screens today.

There remains, however, no real difference between the past and the present, and we can envisage a future which only builds on what we all already know. The historically-proven ‘beauty’ of the game remains intact. The sense it evokes in every one of us as we gather together and watch yet another match unfurl before us is, arguably, what it was at the game’s inauguration.

In many ways, football has changed very little. Those aesthetic, commercial and technical transformations merely add to something intrinsic – a quality which, whether the game takes place in a bare-bones field or an opulent stadium, remains intact. It is only by reflecting on the game – and our memories of it – that we begin to see the incredible evolution that continues to take place each year.