English public school football games

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During the early modern era pupils, former pupils and teachers at English public schools developed and wrote down the first codes of football, most notably the Eton College (1815) [1] and Aldenham school (1825) [1] football rules. The most well-known of these is rugby football (1845). British public school football also directly influenced the rules of Association football.

Early modern Europe period in the history of Europe which spanned the centuries between the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, roughly the late 15th century to the late 18th century

Early modern Europe is the period of European history between the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, roughly the late 15th century to the late 18th century. Historians variously mark the beginning of the early modern period with the invention of moveable type printing in the 1450s, the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, the end of the Wars of the Roses in 1487, the beginning of the High Renaissance in Italy in the 1490s, the end of the Reconquista and subsequent voyages of Christopher Columbus to the Americas in 1492, or the start of the Protestant Reformation in 1517. The precise dates of its end point also vary and are usually linked with either the start of the French Revolution in 1789 or with the more vaguely defined beginning of the Industrial Revolution in late 18th century England.

Eton College British independent boarding school located in Eton

Eton College is an English 13–18 independent boarding school and sixth form for boys in the parish of Eton, near Windsor in Berkshire. It was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI as The King's College of Our Lady of Eton besides Wyndsor, as a sister institution to King's College, Cambridge, making it the 18th-oldest Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference school.

Aldenham village and civil parish in Hertfordshire, England

Aldenham is a village and civil parish in Hertfordshire, 3.5 miles (5.6 km) north-east of Watford and 2 miles (3.2 km) southwest of Radlett. It was mentioned in the Domesday Book and is one of Hertsmere's 14 conservation areas. This secluded little village has eight pre-19th century buildings that are listed buildings and the parish itself is largely unchanged, though buildings have been rebuilt, since Saxon times when the majority of the land was owned by the abbots of Westminster Abbey.


Private schools ("public schools" in England and Wales), mainly attended by boys from the more affluent upper, upper-middle, and professional classes, are widely credited with three key achievements in the creation of modern codes of football. First, the evidence suggests that, during the 16th century, they transformed the popular, but violent and chaotic, "mob football" into organised team sports that were beneficial to schoolboys. Second, many early references to football in literature were recorded by people who had studied at these schools, showing they were familiar with the game. Finally, in the 19th century, former English public school boys, in a meeting organised by two old-boys of Shrewsbury, were the first to write down formal codes of rules in order to enable matches to be played between different schools. These versions of football rules were the basis of both the Cambridge Rules and the subsequent rules of association football, of which only one copy survives in the library of Shrewsbury.

England and Wales Administrative jurisdiction within the United Kingdom

England and Wales is a legal jurisdiction covering England and Wales, two of the four nations of the United Kingdom. "England and Wales" forms the constitutional successor to the former Kingdom of England and follows a single legal system, known as English law.

Shrewsbury School independent school in Shropshire, United Kingdom

Shrewsbury School is an English co-educational independent school for pupils aged 13 to 18 in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, founded by Edward VI in 1552 by Royal Charter. The present campus, to which the school moved in 1882, is on the banks of the River Severn.

The Laws of the Game (LOTG) are the codified rules that help define association football. They are the only rules of association football subscribed to by FIFA. The laws mention the number of players a team should have, the game length, the size of the field and ball, the type and nature of fouls that referees may penalise, the frequently misinterpreted offside law, and many other laws that define the sport. During a match, it is the task of the referee to interpret and enforce the Laws of the Game.

History of football

14th century

That ball games were probably played at English public schools from earliest times is suggested by early references to such games being played by students at university. In later centuries there is no doubt that football games played at school were taken by former students to university. The earliest reference to ball games at English Universities comes from 1303 when "Thomas of Salisbury, a student of Oxford University, found his brother Adam dead, and it was alleged that he was killed by Irish students, whilst playing the ball in the High Street towards Eastgate". [2] [ page needed ] The earliest specific reference to football (pila pedalis) at university comes in 1555 when it was outlawed at St John's College, Oxford. Similar decrees followed shortly after at Cambridge University.

Salisbury Cathedral city in Wiltshire, England

Salisbury is a cathedral city in Wiltshire, England, with a population of 40,302, at the confluence of the rivers Avon, Nadder, Ebble, Wylye and Bourne. The city is approximately 20 miles (32 km) from Southampton and 30 miles (48 km) from Bath.

St Johns College, Oxford college of the University of Oxford

St John's College is a constituent college of the University of Oxford. Founded as a men's college in 1555, it has been coeducational since 1979. Its founder, Sir Thomas White, intended to provide a source of educated Roman Catholic clerics to support the Counter-Reformation under Queen Mary.

15th and 16th centuries

The first direct evidence that games probably resembling football were being played at English public schools comes from the Vulgaria by William Horman in 1519. Horman had been headmaster at Eton (1485/6–1494/5) and Winchester College. His Latin textbook includes a translation exercise with the phrase "We wyll playe with a ball full of wynde", a rough translation of the original Latin "Lusui erit follis pugillari spiritu tumens", which Francis Peabody Magoun translated as "In sport we shall have a ball inflated with air to kick". [3] Even as early as 1519, Horman shows us that he was well aware of the value of sports to children's education and the need to temper their enthusiasm in order not to affect their studies: "There muste be a measure in gyuynge of remedies or sportynge to chyldren, leste they be wery of goynge to theyr boke if they haue none, or waxe slacke if they haue to many". [4]

William Horman was a headmaster at Eton and Winchester College in the early Tudor period of English history. He is best known for his Latin grammar textbook the Vulgaria, which created controversy at the time due to its unconventional approach in first giving examples of translations of English writings on different topics, and later discussing the rules of grammar. He asserted, probably following Quintilian, that grammar cannot be perfect without music.

Winchester College school in Winchester, Hampshire, England

Winchester College is an independent boarding school for boys in the British public school tradition, situated in Winchester, Hampshire. It has existed in its present location for over 600 years. It is the oldest of the original seven English public schools defined by the Clarendon Commission and regulated by the Public Schools Act 1868.

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

This conflict was discussed further by Christopher Johnson who was headmaster at Winchester in the 1560s, but clearly remained a dilemma for public school masters right up to modern times. Christopher Johnson mentions the activities which he enjoyed when a scholar at Winchester himself between 1549 and 1553. He says that he: "cared much more for balls, quoits and tops than he did for books and school". [4]

Christopher Johnson or Jonson (1536?–1597) was an English physician, educator and neo-Latin poet.

Sir Henry Wotton who was at Winchester in the 1560s under Christopher Johnson makes reference to the English word "football" in one of his poems.

Richard Mulcaster, a former student at Eton College and later headmaster at Merchant Taylors' School (1561) and St Paul's School (1596) has been described as "the greatest sixteenth Century advocate of football". [5] He tells us that towards the end of the 16th century football in England had grown to "greatnes ... [and was] much used ... in all places". Mulcaster's unique contribution is not only referring to "footeball" by its correct English name but also providing the earliest evidence of organised team football. Mulcaster confirms that his was a game closer to modern football by differentiating it from games involving other parts of the body, namely "the hand ball" and "the armeball". He referred to the many benefits of his "footeball" in his personal publication of 1581 in English entitled 'Positions Wherein Those Primitive Circumstances Be Examined, Which Are Necessarie for the Training up of Children'. [6] He states that football had positive educational value and it promoted health and strength. Mulcaster's discussion on the merits of football was the first to refer to teams ("sides" and "parties"), positions ("standings"), the benefits of a referee ("judge over the parties") and a coach "(trayning maister)". Although it is not explicitly mentioned, passing of the ball is strongly implied by the reference to different positions on the field. Mulcaster describes a game for small teams that is organised under the auspices of a referee (and is therefore clear evidence that his game had evolved from disordered and violent "mob" football): "Some smaller number with such overlooking, sorted into sides and standings, not meeting with their bodies so boisterously to trie their strength: nor shouldring or shuffing one another so barbarously ... may use footeball for as much good to the body, by the chiefe use of the legges". As a result of his enthusiasm for the sport and his accurate description of the modern game Richard Mulcaster is considered the father of early modern football.

Richard Mulcaster is known best for his headmasterships of Merchant Taylors' School and St Paul's School, and for his pedagogic writings. He is often regarded as the founder of English language lexicography.

Merchant Taylors School, Northwood independent day school for boys, originally in London, now at Northwood, Hertfordshire

Merchant Taylors' School (MTS) is a British independent private day school for boys. Since 1933 it has been on 285 acres (115 ha) of grounds at Sandy Lodge in the Three Rivers district of Hertfordshire.

In 1591, it is clear that ball games were being played at Lyon's Free Grammar School in Harrow'. He says that "upon Thursday only sometimes when the weather is fine, and upon Saturday, or half-holidays after evening prayer. And their play shall be to drive a top, to toss a handball, to run, or to shoot". [4]

17th century

There is evidence that team kicking games were being played in schools in other parts of Britain by the mid 17th century. In 1633 (cited in other references as 1636), David Wedderburn, a teacher from Aberdeen, mentioned elements of football games in a short Latin textbook called the "Vocabula". Wedderburn cites phrases that school boys might use during their game. The text below is given in two forms: Francis Peabody Magoun's 1938 original (and more literal) translation and then Marples 1956 version. It is noteworthy that Magoun does not use the word to "pass".

Let us choose sides//Let’s pick sides.
pick your man first//You have first choice.
Those on our side come here//Those who are on our side, come over here.
How many are against us?/How many are there in the other team?
Kick out the ball so that we may begin the game/Kick off, so that we can begin the match.
Come, kick it here/Pass it here.
You keep the goal/You keep goal.
Snatch the ball from that fellow if you can/Get hold of the ball before he does, if you can manage it.
Come, throw yourself against him/Go on, intercept him.
Run at him/Charge him.
Kick the ball back/Pass the ball back.
Well done. You aren't doing anything/Well done! You’re slacking.
To make a goal/To score a goal.
This is the first goal, this the second, this the third/This is the second, this the third goal.
Drive that man back/Keep him out, otherwise the other side wins.
The opponents are, moreover, coming out on top, If you don't look out, he will make a goal/If you’re not careful, he’ll score in a minute.
Unless we play better, we'll be done for/If we don’t play better, we’re done for.
Ah, victory is in your hands/Hi! You’re the winners.
Ha, hurrah. He is a very skilled ball player/Hurrah! He’s a very good player.
Had it not been for him, we should have brought back the victory/If it has been for him we should have won.
Come, help me. We still have the better chance/Come on, help me. We still have a better side?"

(The original Latin is cited by Magoun (1938): Sortiamur partes; tu primum socium dilige; Qui sunt nostrarum partium huc se recipient; Quot nobis adversantur; Excute pilam ut ineamus certamen; Age, huc percute; Tu tuere metum; Praeripe illi pilam si possis agere; Age objice te illi; Occurre illi; Repercute pilam; Egregie. Nihil agis; Transmittere metum pila; Hic primus est transmissus. Hic secundus, hic tertius est transmissus; Repelle eum, alioqui, adversarii evadunt superiores; Nisi cavesjam occupabit metam; Ni melius a nobis ludatur, de nobis actum est. Eia penes vos victoria est; Io triumphe. Est pilae doctissimus; Asque eo fuisset, reportassimus vicoriam; Age, subservi mihi; Adhuc potiores habemus, scilicet partes)

Wedderburn's Latin book is an early reference to what has been rendered in the second version of the translation as "passing" the ball. The word "passing" is not used explicitly: the original Latin states "huc percute" (strike it here) and "repercute pilam" (strike it back - or again). The original word translated as "goal" is "metum", literally meaning the "pillar at each end of the circus course" in a Roman chariot race. The sentence given as "intercept him" in the second translation above is translated in the original as "Throw yourself against him" (Age, objice te illi). There is a reference to "get hold of the ball before [another player] does" or to "snatch" it (Praeripe illi pilam si possis agere) suggesting that handling of the ball was allowed. It is clear that the tackles allowed included the "charging" and pushing/holding of opposing players ("Keep him out" above, "drive that man back" in the original, "repelle eum" in original Latin). This game is likely to have been similar to rugby football. Contrary to press reports in 2006 there is no reference to game rules, marking players, team formations, or forward passing. This text was described in 2006 as "an amazing new discovery" but has actually been well documented in football history literature since the early 20th century and available on the internet since at least 2000. It confirms that organised football games in the 17th century were not confined to English Schools. (An earlier description of goals, defending goals and passing the ball comes from Carew's account of Cornish Hurling).

The next specific mention of football at public schools can be found in a Latin poem by Robert Matthew, a Winchester scholar from 1643 to 1647. He describes how "...we may play quoits, or hand-ball, or bat-and-ball, or football; these games are innocent and lawful. ..". That football at winchester was "innocent and lawful" at this time is very noteworthy. [7] This is strongly supportive of the fact that by the mid-17th century football and other ball games in English public schools had been tamed. Nugae Etonenses (1766) by T. Frankland also mentions the "Football Fields" at Eton.

A more detailed description of football is given in Francis Willughby's Book of Sports, [8] written in about 1660. This account is particularly noteworthy as he refers to football by its correct name and is the first to describe the following: goals and a pitch ("a close that has a gate at either end. The gates are called Goals"), tactics ("leaving some of their best players to guard the goal"), scoring ("they that can strike the ball through their opponents' goal first win") and the way teams were selected ("the players being equally divided according to their strength and nimbleness"). He is the first to describe a law of football: "They often break one another's shins when two meet and strike both together against the ball, and therefore there is a law that they must not strike higher than the ball". His account of the ball itself is also very informative: "They blow a strong bladder and tie the neck of it as fast as they can, and then put it into the skin of a bull's cod and sew it fast in". He adds: "The harder the ball is blown, the better it flies. They used to put quicksilver into it sometimes to keep it from lying still". His book includes the first (basic) diagram illustrating a football pitch. Willughby's link with the public school system was that he had studied at sutton coldfield school, was a student at Cambridge university and frequented the Bodleian library at Oxford university.

18th century

In 1710, football was recorded as being played on the green at Westminster school. [9]

19th century

The earliest versions of any football code rules were written down in the early 19th century, most notably by Eton College (1815) [1] and Aldenham School (1825). [1]

By the early 19th century, (before the Factory Act of 1850), most working class people in Britain had to work six days a week, often for more than twelve hours a day. They had neither the time nor the inclination to engage in sport for recreation and, at the time, many children were part of the labour force. Feast day football on the public highway was at an end. Thus the public school boys, who were free from constant toil, became the inventors of organised football games with formal codes of rules. These gradually evolved into the modern football and rugby games that we know today.

The boom in rail transport in Britain during the 1840s meant that people were able to travel further and with less inconvenience than they ever had before. Inter-school sporting competitions became possible. While local rules for athletics could be easily understood by visiting schools, it was nearly impossible for schools to play each other at football, as each school played by its own rules.

Rugby football

William Webb Ellis, a pupil at Rugby school, is said to have "showed a fine disregard for the rules of football, as played in his time" by picking up the ball and running to the opponents' goal in 1823. This act is popularly said to be the beginnings of Rugby football, but the evidence for this bold act does not stand up to close examination and most sports historians believe the story to be apocryphal. [10] In older forms of football, handling the ball was allowed, or even compulsory; for example, the English writer William Hone, writing in 1825 or 1826, quotes the social commentator Sir Frederick Morton Eden, regarding "Foot-Ball", as played at Scone, Scotland:

The game was this: he who at any time got the ball into his hands, run [sic] with it till overtaken by one of the opposite part; and then, if he could shake himself loose from those on the opposite side who seized him, he run on; if not, he threw the ball from him, unless it was wrested from him by the other party, but no person was allowed to kick it. [11]

In 1845, three boys at Rugby school were tasked with codifying the rules then being used at the school. This further assisted the spread of the Rugby game.

During the early 19th century the Rugby school rules appear to have spread at least as far, perhaps further, than the other schools' games. For example, two clubs which claim to be the world's first and/or oldest football club, in the sense of one which is not part of a school or university, are both strongholds of rugby football: the Barnes Club, said to have been founded in 1839, and Guy's Hospital Football Club, reportedly founded in 1843. Neither date nor the variety of football played is well documented, but such claims nevertheless allude to the popularity of rugby before other modern codes emerged.

The first inter-school match was played between Cheltenham College and Rugby school, surprisingly the victors being Cheltenham College, still a prolific rugby school. First played in 1864 the Clifton v Marlborough game lays claim to being the first inter-school Rugby fixture. The fixture continues today and the winning side is presented with the Governor's Cup. The Cup was once a polo trophy of the Governor of Jamaica.

The great majority of public schools now play rugby football as a major sport.

Association football

Football had come to be adopted by a number of public schools as a way of encouraging esprit de corps, competitiveness and keeping youths fit. Each school drafted their own rules to suit the dimensions of their playing field. The rules varied widely between different schools and were changed over time with each new intake of pupils. Soon, a number of schools of thought about how football should be played emerged. Some schools favoured a game in which the ball could be carried (as at Rugby, Marlborough and Cheltenham).

Others preferred a game where dribbling the ball was promoted (in particular Eton, Shrewsbury and Harrow). This kind of dribbling foot ball with a tight off-side rule is still played today as the Eton field game. A third group including Westminster and Charterhouse pursued a game that excluded handling the ball. [12] There is some evidence that this also became a passing game which importantly allowed the forward pass known as "passing on".[ citation needed ]

The division into these camps was partly the result of circumstances in which the games were played. At Charterhouse and Westminster, both schools at the time played on restricted sites in London, the boys were confined to playing their ball game within the cloisters making the rough and tumble of the handling game difficult. At Forest School, Walthamstow, matches were played on The Common where chestnut trees and iron railings bounding the playing field were in play. [13] Most of the founding members of The Football Association in 1863 were former schoolboys at these public schools. Punch referred to them as "Public School professors of the art [of football]". [14]

This led to a conflict in the way that Association football should be played. Some committee members favoured the rules of Charterhouse and Westminster School and pushed for a passing game, in particular rules that allowed forward passing ("passing on"). Other schools (in particular Eton College and Harrow) favoured a dribbling game with a tight off-side rule (such that all players must remain behind the ball). By 1867 the Football Association had chosen in favour of the Charterhouse and Westminster game and adopted an off-side rule that permitted forward passing. [2] :150 The modern forward-passing soccer game was thus born, as a direct consequence of Charterhouse and Westminster Football.

The earliest known matches involving public schools are as follows:

Between the Wars a substantial number of independent schools switched codes from soccer to rugby, but this trend did not continue, and at least one, City of London School, switched from rugby to soccer a few years ago. In addition, many independent schools now offer both codes, and in some schools, including Eton, Winchester, Charterhouse and Westminster, association football is a major sport.

Other codes

Statue at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Australia commemorating the earliest known football match between Melbourne Grammar School and Scotch College. Tom Wills umpires as two schoolboy players contesting the ball. Tom wills statue.jpg
Statue at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Australia commemorating the earliest known football match between Melbourne Grammar School and Scotch College. Tom Wills umpires as two schoolboy players contesting the ball.

Three schools maintain their own football games: the Field Game and the Wall Game at Eton; Harrow Football; and Winchester Football.

School Football games also had a influence on the origins of Australian rules football. The earliest recorded football matches in Australia were English school football matches and the Cordner-Eggleston Cup (first played in 1858) is officially acknowledged as the first game of Australian rules football.

Contributions to the rules


Each of the English public school games had its own offside rule. Many of these completely prevented forward passing. The 1847 rules of Eton College, however, were probably the first to resemble the modern game, stating:

"A player is considered 'sneaking' when only three or less than three of the opposite side are before him and the ball behind him, and in such a case, he may not kick the ball."

This is noteworthy as it allowed players to receive a forward pass if more than three opponents were between them and the opponents' goal line. [19]

Dribbling, passing, "scientific football" and the "combination game"

Dribbling and passing of the ball (including forward passing) are all parts of public school games. In addition, the introduction of the FA rules that allowed both dribbling and forward passing of the ball were instigated by former public school boys. These key elements of modern Association football were taken from the various versions of public school football. Dribbling was a key part of the Eton game and passing, in particular forward passing ("passing on") was argued for by representatives of Charterhouse during the establishment of the Football Association rules in the 1860s. [2] These features of modern soccer had been integrated into the Football Association rules by 1867 and were the consequence of English public school games.

The Royal Engineers AFC (1872): the first passing side (of whom many former public school members) 1stRoyalEngineers.png
The Royal Engineers AFC (1872): the first passing side (of whom many former public school members)

In 1856 Lancing College created its own code of football which was regarded as a means of fostering teamwork. [20]

"Scientific" football is first described in 1862 at Rugby School: here one could see "scientific play", magnificent "drops" and "gallant run ins". [21] It is uncertain if the drops and run-ins constituted what the author meant by "scientific", however it is made clear that this playing style was distinctly less "vicious" than in the past. Clearly there was something systematic about scientific rugby. Further references to scientific play come in match accounts in the 1860s, including to games under the Association rules.

Certain football historians correctly point out that the forward pass is not permitted in rugby football and therefore see the emergence of the forward pass as a critical development in the evolution of association football (and for this reason do not acknowledge the role of the public school games). They forget, however, that passing the ball forward by kicking is not only completely legal in Rugby but also is a regular tactic employed in most matches—particularly in open, running play. For this reason the public school games can claim to be origin of the forward-passing game. Passing the ball continues to this day in surviving traditional public school football games. Even in Harrow Football, which is essentially a dribbling game, the ball may be chipped into the hands of a team-mate. [4] [22]

Most notably the "Combination game" (the predecessor of the modern style of football involving a lot of player to player passing) is believed to have been invented by the Royal Engineers A.F.C. in the early 1870s. [23] [24] Nearly all of these players were from English public schools.

Kicking off from the centre

This was a key feature of the football codes of Harrow and Rugby.

Goal crossbar

The cross bar to the football goal was a feature of the Eton game and was noteworthy as the ball had to pass under the bar (instead of over it, as in Rugby football). The Sheffield Rules of 1862 later included both crossbars and half time and free kicks were introduced to their code in 1866 or before. In Harrow football, however, there is no crossbar, quite literally two rugby posts without their crossbar. A base is scored when the ball is hit between the posts.

Team size

Eleven or fifteen players per side was a feature of football at Eton and Winchester.

The football season

Evidence for the establishment of the football season at English public schools comes in "Bentley's miscellany" (1844). [25] In a chapter entitled "Eton Scenes and Eton Men" the seasonal sports cycle is described thus: "Tamer boys play at cricket in the Summer and Hockey in the Winter; but the manlier youths pull in the boats during the Summer and play at Football in the winter". See also the quotation below which confirms that the football season began in Autumn. This is noteworthy because traditionally football had been played in England during Shrovetide.

Games between clubs

School football clubs (and other sports) were a central part of life at 19th century English public schools. In "Five years at an English University" (1852), American Charles Bristed describes his time at Cambridge University in the 1840s. During a discussion on Eton and Rugby School (drawn upon letters from former students there) he states: "[A boy is] proud of the house he belongs to as a man of his college; though in cricket and football clubs, in regular "long boats" and aquatic sweepstakes, in running and leaping races, he competes with the whole school, yet he belongs to a football club in the autumn, which includes the twenty or thirty boys boarding in his own house and thus matches are made between houses as between colleges". [26] Significantly this shows evidence of the first organised competitions between football teams not just within schools but between them. For competitions to take place between colleges it would clearly require some agreement over rules of the game. This necessity, combined with the availability of sufficient time and money to pursue the sport, was the driving force that led to the creation of modern football rules by people who had studied or taught at English public schools and universities. This quotation also points to the establishment in English public schools of the "football season" which to this day begins without fail in Autumn.

Team colours

The tradition of wearing distinctive team strips (i.e. uniforms) was also commenced by public school teams. For example, the original image of Winchester football in about 1840 is entitled: "A 'Hot' at Foot Ball. The commoners have red and college boys blue jerseys".

The earliest evidence of coloured shirts used to identify football teams comes from early English public school football games, for example an image of Winchester football from before 1840 is entitled "The commoners have red and the college boys blue jerseys". [27] House sporting colours are mentioned in Rugby football (rule XXI) as early as 1845: "No player may wear cap or jersey without leave from the head of his house". [28] Similarly, in 1848 it was noted at Rugby that "Considerable improvement has taken place in the last few years, in the appearance of a match... in the use of peculiar dress consisting of velvet caps and jerseys". [29] The use of coloured shirts at Winchester college are confirmed again in 1859: "Precisely at twelve o'clock, according to good old custom, the blue jerseys of college and the red of commoners mingled in the grand commencing 'hot'". [30]

At soccer, Winchester wear dark blue shirts to signify their connection with Oxford University, specifically New College, and Eton light blue, since they are linked to King's College, Cambridge.


The division of the game into two halves was initiated to allow games between schools. The rules of one school would be played by for the first half, and the rules of the other school in the second half. Changing ends at half time (if no goals had been scored) was part of the following schools codes: Brighton, Eton, Rossall, Sheffield, Winchester. Other schools changed every time that side scored (Cheltenham, FA, Harrow, Marlborough, Rugby, Shrewsbury, Uppingham schools) [31]


The origin of football substitutes goes back to at least the early 1860s as part of English public school football games. The original use of the term "substitute" in football was to describe the replacement of players who failed to turn up for matches. For example, in 1863, a match reports states: "The Charterhouse eleven played a match in cloisters against some old Carthusians but in consequence of the non-appearance of some of those who were expected it was necessary to provide three substitutes." [32] The substitution of absent players happened as early as the 1850s, for example from Eton College where the term "emergencies" is used [33] Numerous references to players acting as a "substitute" occur in soccer matches in the mid-1860s [34] where it is not indicated whether these were replacements of absent players or of players injured during the match.

The throw-in

The modern throw-in comes from the 19th century English public school football games. In these codes of football a variety of methods of returning the ball into play from touch were used. The modern throw-in draws upon various aspects of a number early English school games. For example, returning the ball by throwing it out was part of the Rugby and Cheltenham football rules. Like the modern association football throw-in the direction was not specified.[ citation needed ] The Sheffield rules instigated the throw in of the ball at right angles by the opposite side to the one that played it into touch. [31] The two handed throw in is part of rugby union football—see "line out". That the first side reaching the ball must throw it out (at right angles, in this case) was part of the Football Association rules and the Rossall rules. The 1863 Cambridge Rules state that "In a match when half the time agreed upon has elapsed, the side shall change goals when the ball is next out of play".[ citation needed ]

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Fives English sport similar to handball

Fives is an English sport believed to derive from the same origins as many racquet sports. In fives, a ball is propelled against the walls of a 3- or 4-sided special court, using a gloved or bare hand as though it were a racquet, similar to hand-pelota.

The Field Game is one of two codes of football devised and played at Eton College. The other is the Eton Wall Game. The game is like football in some ways – the ball is round, but one size smaller than a standard football, and may not be handled – but the off-side rules – known as 'sneaking' – are more in keeping with rugby. There is also a small scrum or "Bully" of either six or seven a side. Goals can be scored much as in soccer, although there is no goalkeeper. But a team gains more points for scoring a 'rouge'. To score a rouge a player must kick the ball so that it deflects off one of the opposing players, or achieve a charge-down, and then goes beyond the opposition's end of the pitch. The ball is then 'rougeable' and must be touched – although not necessarily to the ground – by an attacking player to complete the rouge for five points. Rouges are similar to tries in that the scoring team then attempts to convert them for two points.

Harrow football

Harrow football is a code of football played between two teams of eleven players, each attempting to win by scoring more bases (goals) than their opponent. Harrow Football is played predominantly with the feet, but players may use any part of their body including, in certain circumstances, their hands and arms to propel the ball. The leather ball is shaped like a giant pork pie, about 18 inches in diameter and 12 inches (300 mm) deep. It tends to soak up mud and water and become extremely heavy.

In several team sports, matches are played in two halves. Half-time is the name given to the interval between the two halves of the match. Typically, after half-time teams swap ends of the field of play, in order to reduce any advantage that may be gained from wind or a slope to the playing surface, for example.

The Cambridge Rules were a code of rules for football first drawn up at Cambridge University, England, in 1848, by a committee that included H. de Winton and J. C. Thring. They are also notable for allowing goal kicks, throw-ins, and for preventing running whilst holding the ball. In 1863, a revision of the rules played a significant part in developing the rules that became association football.

The following are the association football events in the 1840s decade. All events are English unless specified otherwise.

Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, can be traced to as far back as the ancient period in China. The modern game of association football originates from cuju, an ancient Chinese football game, as recognized by FIFA. The formation of The Football Association was later implemented in London, England in 1863 based on multiple efforts to standardize the varying forms of the game. This allowed clubs to play each other without dispute and which specifically banned handling of the ball and hacking during open field play. After the fifth meeting of the association a schism emerged between association football and the rules played by the Rugby school, later to be called rugby football. At the time, football clubs had played by their own, individual codes and game-day rules usually had to be agreed upon before a match could commence. For example, the Sheffield Rules that applied to most matches played in the Sheffield area were a different code. Football has been an Olympic sport ever since the second modern Summer Olympic Games in 1900.

Passing (association football) formation

Passing the ball is a key part of association football. The purpose of passing is to keep possession of the ball by maneuvering it on the ground between different players with the objective of advancing it up the playing field.

Rossall Hockey or RossHockey is a unique form of hockey played only at Rossall School, in Fleetwood, on the Fylde coast, Lancashire, England. The game is unique to Rossall School and is played on the beach next to the school during the Lent term only, with the pitch being marked by dragging the hockey sticks in the sand before each match. It is a brutal beach game born of rugby but played with hockey-like sticks by girls as well as boys at the school. It dates back to the 19th century when pitches were too wet for rugby. It is one of the few school coded sports to have remained in use despite the dominance of other national codes in modern sport. The only other examples of school coded sport in the United Kingdom that remain are those of the various Fives codes; of which Rossall has its own, as well as Harrow football, Winchester College football, the Eton wall game and the Eton field game.

Cricket, and hence English amateur cricket, probably began in England during the medieval period but the earliest known reference concerns the game being played c.1550 by children on a plot of land at the Royal Grammar School, Guildford, Surrey. It is generally believed that cricket was originally a children's game as it is not until the beginning of the 17th century that reports can be found of adult participation.

Old Westminsters F.C. is an association football club composed of former pupils of Westminster School, London, England. They play in the Arthurian League.

1821 in sports describes the year's events in world sport.

The Eton v Harrow cricket match is an annual match between Eton College and Harrow School. It is one of the longest-running annual sporting fixtures in the world and the only annual school cricket match still to be played at Lord's.

Football Group of related team sports

Football is a family of team sports that involve, to varying degrees, kicking a ball to score a goal. Unqualified, the word football is understood to refer to whichever form of football is the most popular in the regional context in which the word appears. Sports commonly called football in certain places include association football ; gridiron football ; Australian rules football; rugby football ; and Gaelic football. These different variations of football are known as football codes.

1801 in sports describes the year's events in world sport.

John Charles Thring, known during his life as "Charles Thring", was an English clergyman and teacher, notable for his contributions to the early history of association football.

The Arthur Dunn Cup is a football cup competition played between the Old Boys of public schools. It started in 1903 and is named in honor of Arthur Dunn who had proposed such a competition but died very suddenly shortly after. Dunn was a leading amateur player of his day and was in the winning Old Etonians side in the 1882 FA Cup Final. It was Dunn who passed the ball to Anderson who scored the only goal to defeat Blackburn Rovers at the Kennington Oval.

The following are the association football events in the 1820s decade. All events are English unless specified otherwise.


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See also