When goal nets, fourth officials and shirt numbers weren't the norm in football

Team 33 have been getting nostalgic...again

fourth official, referee

The fourth official Graham Scott holds up a yellow No 12, after the electronic board the officials normally broke down during the English Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Leicester City at the White Hart Lane stadium in London in London, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

The older you get, the more nostalgic you get for the good 'ol days.

The very same applies to football and the way we consume it. There's even a tiny part of me that misses the days when Teletext was the modus operandi to keep up with the latest scores before the Internet truly took over. 

Indeed, I can still remember the page numbers for the key pages on the Teletext sports section.

That was one old-school football memory that was at the heart of this week's Team 33 interview with Saturday, 3pm: 50 Eternal Delights of Modern Football author Daniel Gray who has penned an ode to some of things we were so used to in a game that has now become a little bit sanitised in some ways as our own Joe Coffey has discussed with some of our recent interviewees.

From the gradual extinction to the "fat player" in a professional game to the changing matchday experience, Middlesbrough fan Gray helped us unlock some memories.

But sometimes it's easy to forget how even things viewed as traditional or normal were actually introduced long after football itself had been invented.

You can listen to the full interview with Daniel Gray on the podcast player or on iTunes:

 Goal Nets

"Back of the net!" is just one phrase that we have become used to over the past century. And indeed "to net" is a verb that lives gloriously in the football lexicon.

But the goal net itself has its own history as we once discovered on an old conversation tangent back in February. 

The English Football Association was founded in 1863. But it wasn't until 1889 that goal nets were invented.

An engineer called John Alexander Brodie was so angered by a disallowed goal suffered by his favourite club Everton that the idea came into being.

In 1891, Brodie convinced the FA to trial the concept of putting nets behind goals and football has never been the same since, with nets becoming compulsory from 1891 in the league and 1894 in the FA Cup.

It may have looked odd at first for football fans and players of the era, but even the most nostalgic would probably not hark back to the net-less goalpost days.

And think about the amount of arguments its prevented regarding legitimate goals as many a game has a moment where the crowd think the ball has gone in, only to notice it has hit the sidenetting. 

The Fourth Official

The poor old fourth official is something we have gotten used to... and the assistant has gotten used to being the one that cops an earful from furious managers.

They, of course, take care of holding up the electronic board for substitutions among other tasks.

But it wasn't until 1991 that the role was even created by the International Football Association Board. 

But the role was mainly administrative for the first four years apart from being a spare ref in case the main one or linesmen got injured. But it wasn't until 1995 that the fourth official was officially recognised as part of the referees' team.

Over the years, more officials have been added including the ones that stand on the goal-line and seem to do nothing at all even when a decision should be clearly made!

 Shirt Numbers

Shirt numbers have become so iconic in modern sport, that they can be retired when a legend calls it a day - or in cases where it is done as tribute when an athlete passes away.

But shirt numbers weren't used in Europe until August 25th 1928, in matches involving Arsenal against Sheffield Wednesday and Chelsea facing Swansea.

Arsenal were particularly associated with early experimentation with shirt numbers used differently to today as they note on their official website where they write: "The numbering system was different to today’s system. One team would wear numbers 1-11 and the other would wear 12-22."

They also add that they experimented with shirt numbers again in 1933 against FC Vienna in a friendly. The same year, Manchester City and Everton are also recorded as having worn shirt numbers in a match, although the English Football League turned down the chance to introduce mandatory shirt numbers as late as the following year.

It took until 1939 until the Football League decided that numbers needed to come in and the rest, as they say, is history.