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Pre-war kick-off times

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    Pre-war kick-off times

    I reading a book that's set in 1939 — Zoo Station — it's set mainly in Berlin, but also London. Football matches are recurring events. At one the the protagonist asks if First Divison kick-off times "are still 3:00pm" on Saturday? Surely that's not right. Until floodlights became common, in the 50s, it was 2:00pm wasn't it

    #2
    Looking at some programmes, there seems to be a good deal of variation, even at the same club.

    The "London War League", for example, looks to have played at 3

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      #3

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        #4
        You're right. A few clubs had floodlights in thirties but weren't allowed to use them (see below). Most of the programmes above are wartime (so non-league.) The lower Arsenal one is a FL match though. A 3:15pm kick-off just seems weird. The visibility at 5:00pm at the end of October in a British City was dire back then. I doubt you could see the opposite end of the pitch.

        In the 1930s, Herbert Chapman installed lights into the new West Stand at Highbury but the Football League refused to sanction their use. This situation lasted until the 1950s, when the popularity of floodlit friendlies became such that the League relented. — Wiki.

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          #5
          Some others





          This site is a goldmine

          Though I am struck by how common it was not to indicate the time (or even the opponent, other than on the team sheet)

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            #6
            The team sheet would have been the the last form printed. The rest, cover, ads etc. would have been printed a day or so in advance.

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              #7
              That is to have been expected, but a number of "big" clubs (Arsenal and Huddersfield, for instance) appear to have used a standard cover that was printed in advance for the entire season, with no reference to the date or opponent.

              FWIW, many major league baseball clubs still use that model for their much more frequent and numerous home games (though the cover and non-scorecard content tend to change four to six times a season).





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                #8
                All of which leaves us with the original question of kick off times.

                You are obviously correct about the light in winter. Was it just accepted, or might deep winter kickoffs have been later (the available sample size doesn't appear to be large enough to prove this either way)? Were half-times shorter?

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                  #9
                  Half-times, when I was a kid, were ten minutes. I also suspect referees were less prone to adding stoppage time — there were no subs of course. So you'd shave maybe 8–10 minutes off today's matches. I watched senior amateur football with no floodlights in the early 60s, but I honestly can't remember a start time other than 3:00pm.

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                    #10
                    Originally posted by Amor de Cosmos View Post
                    Half-times, when I was a kid, were ten minutes. I also suspect referees were less prone to adding stoppage time — there were no subs of course. So you'd shave maybe 8–10 minutes off today's matches. I watched senior amateur football with no floodlights in the early 60s, but I honestly can't remember a start time other than 3:00pm.
                    You can still watch senior amateur football with no lights now - Scottish Junior Leagues, the South Wales Alliance Prem. Kick off time are duly adjusted according to the clocks.

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                      #11
                      As regards the games in wartime, Wiki tells us that the UK operated an extra hour ahead from 1940 until the end of the war so was on GMT+2 during the summer and GMT+1 (effectively BST) in the winter, so evenings were lighter meaning that a 3pm kick-off in November would have been completed in daylight.

                      The clocks usually go back on the last weekend in October, so the Sheffield United game above would still have been played in BST.

                      The much shorter half-time break (which continued into the 90s) meant that games rarely proceeded past 4:45.

                      More recently, during the three-day week in 1974, when football clubs were not allowed to use their floodlights, Saturday games did, indeed, kick off earlier, typically 2pm or 2:15. I'd be surprised if there isn't a WSC article somewhere dealing with this.
                      Last edited by Capybara; 14-02-2020, 09:13. Reason: getting forward/back mixed up

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                        #12
                        I like the pencil notes on the Arsenal programme upthread - Goalkeeper Platt arrived 10 minutes late, with Ted Drake filling in until he turned up. But our spectator helpfully tells us he was "good" when he did show up, as were Compton (D) and Miller.

                        Arsenal and Spurs were sharing White Hart Lane as Highbury had been requisitioned as an ARP Stronghold (which then got bombed), which explains why both clubs' fixtures were advertised in the programme.

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                          #13
                          Originally posted by Amor de Cosmos View Post
                          In the 1930s, Herbert Chapman installed lights into the new West Stand at Highbury but the Football League refused to sanction their use. This situation lasted until the 1950s, when the popularity of floodlit friendlies became such that the League relented. — Wiki.
                          I'd love to hear the bullshit reason behind this.

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                            #14
                            The Football League said floodlights were "Not in the wider interests of football."

                            Love those hooped Ipswich socks. I've been admiring Barnsley's bitonal stockings this season whenever they appear.

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                              #15
                              Originally posted by Capybara View Post
                              As regards the games in wartime, Wiki tells us that the UK operated an extra hour ahead from 1940 until the end of the war so was on GMT+2 during the summer and GMT+1 (effectively BST) in the winter, so evenings were lighter meaning that a 3pm kick-off in November would have been completed in daylight.
                              Beat me to it! This would've made a big difference to whether or not kickoff times needed to be moved.

                              The much shorter half-time break (which continued into the 90s) meant that games rarely proceeded past 4:45.
                              Wait, what, though? Do you mean half-time was 10 minutes or something up to or into the Premier League era? I mean, I remember football as far back the late '80s, but I had no recollection of that.

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                                #16
                                Originally posted by jwdd27 View Post
                                Arsenal and Spurs were sharing White Hart Lane as Highbury had been requisitioned as an ARP Stronghold (which then got bombed), which explains why both clubs' fixtures were advertised in the programme.
                                I like the notion that some misguided German war strategist might possibly have looked at a map of London, read the label "ARSENAL" on that spot, and ordered Highbury bombed under the impression it was a major munitions dump.

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                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by Various Artist View Post
                                  Do you mean half-time was 10 minutes or something up to or into the Premier League era?
                                  Yes.

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                                    #18
                                    Yes half time was only ever 10 minutes certainly up until the end of the 80s. Matches regularly finished on or just after 4.40

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                                      #19
                                      In January 1935, FA Cup 3rd round replays kicked-off at 2.15 to allow for the possibility of extra time (The Guardian, 16.1.35)

                                      Interestingly there was a proposal that season to play all FA Cup ties in midweek to avoid congesting the league programme.

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                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by Amor de Cosmos View Post
                                        A 3:15pm kick-off just seems weird.
                                        Can't tell you about war years, but Brentford kept going with 3.15 kick offs until at least the 80s, so people could spend more time in the pub.

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                                          #21
                                          Originally posted by Capybara View Post
                                          More recently, during the three-day week in 1974, when football clubs were not allowed to use their floodlights, Saturday games did, indeed, kick off earlier, typically 2pm or 2:15. I'd be surprised if there isn't a WSC article somewhere dealing with this.
                                          Which makes it bizarre that Leicester played on a Saturday evening on 19th January 1974 to beat Ipswich 5-0 under floodlights. I've tried to find out the reasons why this was the case but have, like the Ipswich forwards that night, drawn a blank. I do remember it well as Frankie Wortho got a hattrick and Kevin Beattie scored with a cracking header past Lawrie Sivell.

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                                            #22
                                            Thanks GO and AH, I've learnt something today then. I'm astonished I managed to apparently forget that so entirely from my first couple of years following the game as a kid, and that it's never come up once in anything I've read or heard said about football in the last 30 years.

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                                              #23
                                              January 19, 1937: FA Cup 4th round ties kicked off at 2.45 (replays 2.15), evidently because of the light

                                              Last edited by Satchmo Distel; 15-02-2020, 19:53.

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