Who is the best player from each of England’s 48 counties? – The Athletic

The county system in England is rarely discussed in relation to professional football.

If you say you support Surrey, Lancashire or Worcestershire, you are obviously talking about cricket rather than football. The second sport in England is played by teams that take their names from the county in which they reside, but football is contested by teams that are almost universally named after cities and towns.

There’s of course Notts County and Derby County; Notts is literally the county name and represents Derbyshire County. Things get more complicated when you think of Stockport County, named because Stockport was once a “county county”, independent of the control of any wider county, and across the border in Wales is Newport County, originally named Newport & Monmouth County, after the historic county Monmouthshire.

But boycotts are nonetheless important in the context of football. Representing your country in any age group is a huge achievement for the young footballer, while there are still the hotly contested provincial cups – where professional under-23 teams often enter to compete against semi-professionals.

For example, the Sussex Senior Challenge Cup Final regularly attracts four people to Brighton Stadium, while Blackburn Rovers U-23 beat their Wigan Athletic counterparts 3-1 in July to retain the Lancashire Senior Cup. Meanwhile, the counties remain a major part of the management of English football, particularly with regard to the development of referees and coaches.

But the English provinces, for many people, remain rather abstract concepts – many do not even know where they came from.

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