A street in Cheltenham where parents have been told to stop their children playing football in the street as it is a breach of their tenancy agreement has made the news in the last week. Such complaints about street football are not a new phenomenon though, as the matter saw people put before the courts in Liverpool as long ago as the 19th century.
The Liverpool Mercury of 28th October 1899 carried a report of a police court hearing that took place in Wavertree, chaired by Alderman Menlove, after whom Menlove Avenue was named. Seven teenagers had been summoned there for playing football in Smithdown Road on the 17th of that month, despite being warned not to by the police six days earlier. The constables were identified only as 103G and 142G.
Some of the boys, who were aged between thirteen and sixteen, denied the charge but they had no chance of their word being believed above that of the police officers. Alderman Menlove said that he and fellow magistrates were determined to put a stop to what he called a ‘dangerous practice.’ He told them that there were plenty of open spaces where football could be played and fined each of them two shillings.