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150 Years of Football


A short while ago I wrote an article about Notts County's 150 year existance, which I will link to at the bottom of this article for any readers to catch up on (if you choose to do so). Here is the second in the series of posts, where I've tried to describe the development of 'football'. Of course there are other codes of 'football' that grew out of 'mob football' in the mid/late 19th century. I've concentrated on the growth of football as we now know it in England, I hope you all find it interesting and any comments are again most welcome, so please get posting.

In 1857 Sheffield FC was formed by members of Sheffield Cricket Club as a way of keeping fit during the winter months, so becoming the worlds oldest club playing Association football. (Notts now being a professional league side) They began just playing games between club members and in 1858 laid down the rules by which they would play, these became known as The Sheffield Rules.

Hallam FC was formed in 1860 and soon there were at least 15 teams playing in the Sheffield area. Now inter club games were being organised and it became necessary to have a governing body to administrate these clubs. Thus in 1867 The Sheffield F.A. was created, becoming the first county association in England. Sheffield FC v Hallam FC is the oldest derby match still being played. Sheffield FC played an eighteen a side game in Nottingham under Nottingham rules on the 2nd of January 1865, their first game outside the Sheffield area.

Football was also developing all over the country particularly in the London area and in public schools, however when inter-team matches were arranged there was a good deal of confusion regarding rules of play, One way round this was to play one half of a game using one teams rules and then use the other teams rules for the second half.

This was obviously unsatisfactory. Also when pupils moved from school to university there was confusion about the rules of play. So in 1848 a compromise set of rules was formulated. These became known as The Cambridge Rules and were revised in1856.The rules included throw ins, goal kicks, forward passing and no running while carrying the ball.

In 1862 Ebeneezer Cobb Morley founded Barnes FC (London) and being concerned about disputes over rules wrote a letter in 1863 to the Bell's Life newspaper suggesting that an association similar to the MCC in cricket be formed to decide set rules and govern football.

So on the 26th of October 1863 a meeting was arranged at The Freemasons Tavern, Great Queens Street, London,with representative of several public schools and interested parties in attendance.

Over a series of 6 meetings rules were drawn up by Mr. Morley using the Cambridge rules as a basis but also incorporating some of The Sheffield rules and others and favouring dribbling and kicking the ball rather than handling and running whilst holding the ball. As a result of the handling and other rules being removed the representative of Blackheath withdrew his team from the FA.

Several other clubs soon followed suit and later in 1871 formed The Rugby Football Union. So now we have Rugby football and Association football or 'Soccer', a corruption of association. Sheffield FC joined the FA in November 1863 but continued to use their own rules until 1878 when the FA incorporated some further Sheffield rules.

The game of football (Soccer) was now becoming recognizable as the game we know today but there was still quite a way to go.

To be continued soon.

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I'm not being biased, although I like these articles. I used to be fairly into history, yet when Mr Thomas became ill and were replaced with Mr Smith it became dull. Football evolution really is an amazing read, I really enjoyed this.

Wished I had better time to promote it, although I will don't you worry about that.


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We have to remember that communication was very slow in the 1800's. Nowadays something appears on the television and everybody knows about it the same day. There were a lot of other factors that impeded all sport development which I hope to highlight as the series of articles progresses. I'm discovering things and I hope others do too.


Glad you enjoyed it.

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Another very interesting read Super-Ram. Lile joe I used to and still am well into history, especially that of sport. Got a number of books, and I really enjoyed Colin Slaters Tied up with Notts. Always interesting reading stories of years gone by as well as the development of the beautiful game.


I look forward to your next article mate :)

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Hi Super Ram


I am enjoying these articles keep them coming, it's very interesting to read the history of the game.


Perhaps we should go back to the days when in one half we play with our rules in the other half play with opposition rules. Just don't tell them that our rules include a opposition goal which stretches the width of the pitch and then change it normal at half time.

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Glad you enjoyed, Tony.

 I like your idea. You could take it further and not have a goal at all in your own half,  making it impossible for the opposition to score.

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Pride of Nottingham is an independent fansite devoted to Notts County, the world’s oldest professional football club. Created in 2013, it has served as a source of Magpie news, features, match previews, reports, analysis and interviews for more than three years.

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