19 January 2011

The English codified, but didn't invent, football

(Cuju, depicting the emperor and royal officials playing football, by Huang Shen 黃慎, 1755. Image from ChinaArts.)

While busy marking students papers as other university colleagues would be, I manage to squeeze time out of my waking hours to read.

Last night, before taking my routine cold shower, I encounter such an interesting point given by the Irish stand-up comedian Dara Ó Briain , which came to his mind when spending an afternoon in the National Football Museum in Manchester, England.
The English didn't invent football. They codified it, which is a different thing altogether, and a less emotive thing to shout about when you next to qualify for World Cup. You didn't invent football because you didn't invent the ball, or kicking, or fields. We should only be grateful that the Victorians didn't gather together in a room and write the first rules for the use of the wheel, or fire, so that you can claim credit for that as well.

quoted from Dara's latest book Tickling the English, p 30.

Certainly Dara offered this comment in a playful manner, but he is damn right. The English are not the first to play the ball by foot. Cuju (蹴鞠, literally 'kicking ball') had been a means of military training, as well as a recreational activity for the general public, in Ancient China during the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD).

Some regard cuju as the forerunner of modern association football, of which the history spans only about 150 years. However, cuju began to decline in popularity in China during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and finally replaced by football imported from the West.


Travel France Online said...

Hello Wei,
A very interesting blog, I can learn a lot about music in a "different way", and I also like your brilliant sense of humour!
I added you to my list of blogs to follow and will enjoy reading more.
DeeBee, a French in cold and rainy UK!

Wei said...

Thank you DeeBee L.!

As you can see from the archive on the side panel, I started this blog in 2006 during my doctoral study in Scotland.

Many friends of mine had blogs but somehow their blogs gradually discontinued. I just hang in there and share some ideas or experience with unknown readers in the cyber world, and at the same time, keep writing in English.

All the best.

Unknown said...


Wei said...


Unknown said...

11:30 - 15:00,

Wei said...

不是吧!這麼巧,2/10~14 我在大阪民族學博物館做工,只能遙遙思念同學們,然後等你把照片貼上臉書再來仔細跟畢業紀念冊比對,想想誰是誰。

Unknown said...


Unknown said...


Wei said...

是的,我 2006 年在英國開始玩,2007 停了一下,2008 太多學生玩了,只好又開始。帳號就是我的名字 Szu-Wei Chen。

Unknown said...