Amateur records

Unless your ancestor was one of the early amateur football heroes, they are unlikely to have left much of a paper trail if they didn’t play professionally.

For some time after the legalisation of professionalism in 1885, amateur teams competed side by side with their paid colleagues, and amateur players continued to play for the England team until the Second World War but they could not compete with the rise of the professional footballer.

However, if one of your ancestors was a keen amateur footballer you may be able to find some information about the club he played for. Local newspapers are an invaluable source for information on teams and players. Visit a reference library near to the team you are researching for local newspapers and ask if they have any relevant books.

Some histories and archives are now going online, so try “Googling” the team you are interested in. For example, you can find out about the “glory days” of amateur football in Durham County at

For Scottish ancestors, try the Scottish Amateur Football Association’s website, which has a helpful forum (

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