Major Papers


Scotland, Professionalism, Victorian, Periodical Press, Football, Amateurism


This paper argues that from the early 19th century there existed a strong push by middle-class reformers to eliminate traditional regional pastimes and identities, and repurpose organised sport with the aim of reinforcing notions of respectability. Despite the initial success of the middle-class in popularizing association football in Scotland, these modernisers ultimately met with failure as the institutions that they created became increasingly subservient to economic realities of popular sport and to the demands of a working-class consumer base. Finally, the success of the middle-class in eliminating pastimes and the corresponding regional identities created the need for new sources of identity which were provided by the increasingly divided and sectarian Old Firm Clubs.

Utilizing the Victorian periodical press, specifically the Scottish sporting journals the Scottish Athletic Journal, The Scottish Umpire, Scottish Sport, and the Scottish Referee, this paper defines the notions of Victorian respectability and Muscular Christianity that became core tenants of mid-nineteenth century middle-class pastimes. It then examines middle-class attempts to reshape Scottish leisure culture more broadly, with a focus on the elimination of traditional pastimes and the establishment of the new mechanisms of popular sport. Finally, this paper illustrates the challenges and debates surrounding middle-class amateur sport, and the eventual failure of middle-class reformers to assert complete control over popular leisure in the face of increasingly modern, mass consumer sport.

Primary Advisor

Dr. Miriam Wright

Program Reader

Dr. Adam Pole

Degree Name

Master of Arts



Document Type

Major Research Paper

Convocation Year