Popularity in organised sports followed changes to employment conditions in the UK. The working class had more recreation time and the search for leisure pastimes was thought to account for the meteoric rise in organised sport. In 1862, Notts County became the first professional team. The oldest soccer clubs in the world started by an impromptu ‘kick abouts’ by a group of young men of the professional class.
In 1867 Queens Park became the first Scottish Club. At first the Scots' game was associated with delicate ball control and short passing known as the combination game. The English preferred individual players who could dribble passed their opposition. As the early years passed regional variations began to arise and some players perfected the screw shot or bending the ball in flight. These strategies necessitated precise control of the ball the combination of physical ability and boot became critical if the ball was to be mastered. It took more than a decade after the rules of the game were formulated for the artisan classes to become interested in playing association football. Rugby was by far the more popular game with the cloth cap fraternity but gradually this was to change. The phenomenon of the newly perfected electrical illumination also caught the imagination and football promoters help floodlight matches.
The standard of play improved with the establishment of the English Football League (1888) by William McGregor . Organised competition with spectators meant a greater emphasis on entertainment and the game began to speed up. The need to free up movement in the players meant restrictive clothing needed to be modified or go. Costumes became gradually lighter in weight and the cumbersome leg pads or shin guards were reduced in size and tucked inside the socks. The only exception to this was boots which became more robust and heavier.
At first the Football Association was against professionalism but eventually 1885 it did accept the inevitable and sanctioned professionalism. Transfer of professional players meant a marriage of football styles which in turn led to formation play and further engaged the crowds.