Former club secretary earns recognition as football pioneer

Fitzroy Norris, one of the club's first secretary-managers, has received recognition for his efforts in securing Manchester's football-city status

One of Bolton Wanderers’ first secretary-managers, Fitzroy Norris, has been recognised as one of three pioneers who helped establish Manchester as a footballing city.  

According to new research by sports historian Gary James, Norris was a key influence during the 1870s before he became a Wanderers’ committeeman. 

Published in the prestigious International Journal of the History of Sport, “Manchester’s Footballing Pioneers, 1863-1904: A Collective Biography” is the first research project to seriously consider Manchester football’s founding fathers.

Gary, who carried out his research as part of International Sport and Leisure History at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “Football in Manchester needed key individuals to recognise the potential of the sport. Within about a year of arriving in Manchester in the 1870s Norris set up Manchester Association FC – a prominent club in the early years of the game.

“He worked tirelessly to promote football in Manchester, organising games and events to promote the sport, even after he had become a committeeman at Bolton.”

Gary’s research identifies that without men like Norris football may never have become embedded in Mancunian life.  He goes on to state that Norris learned from those around him, especially through his time as a player with Nottingham Forest.

This research is part of a much wider project Gary has embarked on. Gary: “My aim with this research is to properly analyse the emergence, development and establishment of Manchester’s footballing life. To do that I’ve researched the individuals there in the formative years and the clubs, alongside the general footballing community.  

"For me, Norris has been quite an interesting character. Not only was he a key figure behind Manchester’s football story, but he was also a former Nottingham Forest player, Bolton Wanderers’ secretary-manager and made his name mostly as a referee – a rather zealous one if reports are to be believed!“

Gary James is a member of the Sports & Leisure History Group at Manchester Metropolitan University:

The article can be downloaded by CLICKING HERE.

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