The playing of football had always been popular in
I went up to Trinity College Cambridge. In the following year an
attempt was made to get up some football in preference to the hockey
that was then in vogue. But the result was dire confusion, as every
man played the rules he had been accustomed to at his public school. I
remember how the Eton men howled at the Rugby men for handling the
ball. So it was agreed that two men should be chosen to represent each
of the public schools, and two who were not public school men, for the
'Varsity. G. Salt and myself were chosen for the 'Varsity. I wish I
could remember the others. Burn of Rugby, was one; Whymper of Eton, I
think, also. We were 14 in all I believe. Harrow and Eton Rugby,
The creators of the
"If the ball has passed a player and has come from the direction of his own goal, he may not touch it till the other side have kicked it, unless there are more than three of the other side before him. No player is allowed to loiter between the ball and the adversaries' goal." (1856, probably earlier)
This rule was subsequent adopted in essence by the Football
Association in 1867, but weakening from "more than three" to "at least
three". This off-side rule, which permitted players to move in
front of the ball opened the way to the subsequent development of the
'They embrace the true principles of the game, with the greatest simplicity'
A plaque has been mounted at Parker's Piece,
Here on Parker's Piece, in the 1800s, students established a common
set of simple football rules emphasising skill above force, which
forbade catching the ball and 'hacking'. These '
No copy of the 1848 rules survives but the following set of University
Rules, circa 1856, still exists in the Library of
The Laws of the University Foot Ball Club
This club shall be called the University Foot Ball Club. At the commencement of the play, the ball shall be kicked off from the middle of the ground: after every goal there shall be a kick-off in the same way. After goal, the losing side shall kick off; the sides changing goals, unless a previous arrangement be made to the contrary. The ball is out when it has passed the line of the flag-posts on either side of the ground, in which case it shall be thrown in straight. The ball is behind when it has passed the goal on either side of it. When the ball is behind it shall be brought forward at the place where it left the ground, not more than ten paces, and kicked off. Goal is when the ball is kicked through the flag-posts and under the string. When a player catches the ball directly from the foot, he may kick it as he can without running with it. In no other case may the ball be touched with the hands, except to stop it. If the ball has passed a player, and has come from the direction of his own goal, he may not touch it till the other side have kicked it, unless there are more than three of the other side before him. No player is allowed to loiter between the ball and the adversaries' goal. In no case is holding a player, pushing with the hands, or tripping up allowed. Any player may prevent another from getting to the ball by any means consistent with the above rules. Every match shall be decided by a majority of goals.
(Signed) H. Snow, J. C. Harkness; Eton. J. Hales, E. Smith; Rugby. G. Perry, F. G. Sykes; University. W. H. Stone, W. J. Hope-Edwardes; Harrow. E. L. Horner, H. M. Luckock; Shrewsbury.
'The Simplest Game' (or 'The Uppingham Rules')
In 1862, J.C. Thring, who was then a master at Uppingham, brought out
a new set of rules for what he called "The Simplest Game"; these rules
are also known as the "Uppingham Rules". Thring's rules are not
normally referred to as the
A GOAL is scored whenever the ball is forced through the goal and under the bar, except it be thrown by hand. HANDS may be used only to stop a ball and place it on the ground before the feet. KICKS must be aimed only at the ball. A player may not kick the ball whilst in the air. NO TRIPPING UP or HEEL KICKING is allowed. Whenever the ball is kicked beyond the side flags, it must be returned by the player who kicked it, from the spot it passed the flag line, in a straight line towards the middle of the ground. When a ball is kicked BEHIND the line of goal, it shall be kicked off from that line by one of the side whose goal it is. No opposite player may stand within six paces of the kicker when he is kicking off. A player is 'out of play' immediately he is in front of the ball and he must return behind the ball as soon as possible. If the ball be kicked by his own side past a player, he may not touch or kick it nor advance until one of the other side has first kicked it or one of his own side, having followed it up, has been able, when in front of him, to kick it. NO CHARGING is allowed when a player is out of play – i.e. immediately the ball is behind him.
The length of the ground shall not be more than 150 yds. and the breadth not more than 100 yds. The ground shall be marked out by posts and two posts shall be placed on each side-line at distances of 25 yds. from each goal line. The GOALS shall consist of two upright poles at a distance of 15 ft. from each other. The choice of goals and kick-off shall be determined by tossing and the ball shall be kicked off from the middle of the ground. In a match when half the time agreed upon has elapsed, the side shall change goals when the ball is next out of play. After such change or a goal obtained, the kick off shall be from the middle of the ground in the same direction as before. The time during which the game shall last and the numbers in each side are to be settled by the heads of the sides. When a player has kicked the ball any one of the same side who is nearer to the opponent's goal line is OUT OF PLAY and may not touch the ball himself nor in any way whatsoever prevent any other player from doing so. When the ball goes out of the ground by crossing the side lines, it is out of play and shall be kicked straight into the ground again from the point where it first stopped. When a player has kicked the ball beyond the opponents' goal line, whoever first touches the ball when it is on the ground with his hand, may have a FREE kick bringing the ball straight out from the goal line. No player may touch the ball behind his opponents' goal line who is behind it when the ball is kicked there. If the ball is touched down behind the goal line and beyond the line of the side-posts, the FREE kick shall be from the 25 yds. post When a player has a free-kick, no-one of his own side may be between him and his opponents' goal line and no one of the opposing side may stand within 10 yds. of him. A free kick may be taken in any manner the player may choose. A goal is obtained when the ball goes out of the ground by passing between the poles or in such a manner that it would have passed between them had they been of sufficient height. The ball, when in play may be stopped by any part of the body, but it may NOT be held or hit by the hands, arms or shoulders. ALL charging is fair; but holding, pushing with the hands, tripping up and shinning are forbidden.
(Signed) Rev. R. Burn (Shrewsbury), Chairman R.H. Blake Humfrey (Eton) W.T. Trench (Eton) J.T. Prior (Harrow) H.L. Williams (Harrow) W.R. Collyer (Rugby) M.T. Martin (Rugby) W.P. Crawley (Marlborough) W.S. Wright (Westminster)
Laws of the Game (association football) Sheffield Rules
^ Encyclopedia of British Football by Richard Cox et al., Routledge,
2002 page 5
^ Harvey 2005, p. 133
^ a b History of Football in
Green, Geoffrey (1953). The History of the Football Association. Naldrett Press, London. Harvey, Adrian (2005). Football, the First Hundred Years. Routledge. ISBN 0-