An exception in war and peace: Ipswich Town Football Club, c. 1907-1945

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This essay explores the development of a football club as a means of understanding its late adoption of professionalism and its unusual wartime conduct. Ipswich Town were the only Football League team not to kick a ball for the duration of the Second World War. Arguably, the underlying causes of the club’s inactivity in both global conflicts can be found in the patriotic and staunchly amateur ethos which permeated the organisation, resulting in a very late conversion to the professional game in 1936. When the Amateur Football Association (AFA) seceded from the Football Association (FA) in 1907, Town sided with the gentlemen amateurs and competed in the socially-exclusive Southern Amateur League until the season before the club adopted professionalism. The unique nature of Town’s evolution offers an opportunity to explore the decline of this branch of the game in the face of professional football, the protagonists who were caught up in it, and the relationship between football and civic pride. In wartime, the human and social continuities between the professional company and its amateur predecessor arguably proved to be more influential than the ruptures that resulted from a controversial inter-war abandonment of cherished amateur principles.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-241
Number of pages28
JournalSport in History
Issue number2
Early online date3 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Football
  • War
  • Gentlemanly Amateurism
  • Professionalism
  • AFA

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