Numerous attempts have been made throughout history to ban football, particularly in its most rowdy and disruptive forms.
In England alone there were over 30 Royal and local edicts prohibiting the game.
King Edward II was so troubled by the unruliness of football in London that on April 13 1314 he issued a proclamation banning it.
It read -Forasmuch as there is great noise in the city caused by hustling over large balls from which many evils may arise which God forbid; we command and forbid, on behalf of the King, on pain of imprisonment, such game to be used in the city in the future. - Edward III imposed a similar ban June 12 1349, but his concern was of a practical nature.
Football and other recreations distracted the populace from practising archery, and after the great loss of life that had occurred during the Black Death, England needed as many archers as possible.
The game featured in similar attempts to ban recreational sport across Europe.
In France it was banned by Phillippe V in 1319 and Charles V in 1369. In Scotland it was banned by James I of Scotland in 1424. Later attempts at banning the game in England (notably by Richard II in 1389, Henry IV in 1401, and Henry VIII in 1540) and Scotland (James II in 1457) all failed to curb the people's desire to play the game. Only Oliver Cromwell had any success in firmly suppressing the game, which then became even more popular following the Restoration in 1660. Charles II of England gave the game royal approval in 1681 when he attended a fixture between the Royal Household and George Monck, 1st Duke of Albemarle's servants.
Continued efforts to try ban the game at a local level forced the game off the streets. In 1827 Hugh Percy, 3rd Duke of Northumberland allowed the annual Alnwick Shrove Tuesday game to proceed by providing a field for the game to be played upon and presenting the ball before the match - a ritual that continues to this day. In 1835 the Highways Act banned the playing of football on public highways, with a maximum penalty of forty shillings.
English public schools
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 over twelve hours a day. They had neither the time nor the inclination to engage in sport for recreation. Feast day football on the public highway was at an end. Thus the public schoolss of England, where upper, upper-middle and professional class boys were able to enjoy freedom from constant toil, became the breeding grounds where organised football games with formal rules could be developed and evolve into the modern games that we know today.
The earliest evidence that games resembling football were being played in English public schools comes from the Vulgaria by William Horman in 1519. Horman had been headmaster at Eton College and Winchester and this Latin textbook includes a translation exercise with the phrase "We wyll playe with a ball full of wynde". The first specific mention of football 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...". A document from 1766 (Nugae Etonenses by T. Frankland) speaks of the "Football Fields" of Eton.
It is known that by the early 19th century the game had come to be adopted by a number of public schools as a way of encouraging competitiveness and keeping youths fit. Each school drafted their own rules as they saw fit and they often varied widely and were changed over time with each new intake of pupils. In 1823 William Webb Ellis 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, but the evidence for this bold act does not stand up to close examination. However, by 1841 (some sources say 1842), running with the ball had become acceptable at Rugby School, as long as a player gathered the ball on the full or from a bounce, he was not offside and he did not pass the ball. Soon, two schools of thought about how football should be played had developed. Some favoured a game in which the ball could be carried (as at Rugby, Marlborough and Cheltenham), whilst others preferred a game where kicking and dribbling the ball was promoted (as at Eton, Harrow, Westminster and Charterhouse). The division into these two camps was partly the result of circumstances in which the games were played. At Charterhouse and Westminster the boys were confined to playing their ball game within the cloisters making the rough and tumble of the handling game difficult.
During this period, the Rugby School rules appear to have spread at least as far, perhaps further, than the other schools' games. For example, it is said that the world's first "football club" (that is one which was not part of a school or university), was the Guy's Hospital Football Club, founded in London in 1843. The club is said to have played the Rugby School game. However, some have argued that this club is too poorly documented to be considered to have existed since that time.
With the coming of the railways people were able to travel further and with less inconvenience than they ever had before. Inter-school sporting competitions became possible. Whilst local rules for athletics and some other sports with simple rules could be easily understood by visiting schools, it was nearly impossible for schools to play each other at football as each school played by their own idiosyncratic rules.
The establishment of modern codes of football
In 1848 at Cambridge University, Mr. H. de Winton and Mr. J.C. Thring, who were both formerly at Shrewsbury School, called a meeting at Trinity College, Cambridge with 12 other representatives from Eton, Harrow, Rugby, Winchester and Shrewsbury. An eight-hour meeting produced what amounted to the first set of modern rules, known as the Cambridge Rules. No copy of these rules now exists, but a revised version from ~1856 is held in the library of Shrewsbury School. The rules clearly favour the kicking game. Handling was only allowed for a player to take a clean catch entitling them to a free kick and there was a primitive offside rule, disallowing players from "loitering" around the opponents' goal. However the Cambridge Rules were far from universally adopted.
The increasing interest and development of the various English football games was shown in 1851, when William Gilbert, a shoemaker from Rugby, exhibited both round and oval-shaped balls at the Great Exhibition in London.
Sheffield Football Club also has a claim to be the world's oldest surviving "football club", in the sense of a club not attached to a school or university. It was founded by former Harrow pupils Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest, in 1857. Creswick and Prest devised their own rules (the Sheffield Rules). Under the rules of 1857, players were allowed to push or hit the ball with their hands and there was no offside rule at all so that players known as 'kick throughs' would be permanently positioned near the opponents' goal. How long this lasted is unclear, but by 1866, when Sheffield played a London FA side they were employing their own version of offside that differed from the FA rule. In 1867 the Sheffield Football Association was formed by a number of clubs in the local area and the Sheffield clubs continued to play by their own rules until they decided to fall in line with the FA in 1878.
On the other side of the world, Tom Wills began to develop Australian Rules Football in Melbourne during 1858. Wills had been educated in England at Rugby School and played cricket for Cambridge University. The extent to which Wills was directly influenced by the various English football games is unknown, but there were similarities between some of them and his game. Australian Rules also has similarities to Gaelic football (which was not codified until much later) and Marn Grook (see above). The Melbourne Football Club was also founded in 1858 and is the oldest surviving Australian football club, but it did not necessarily use Wills' rules during its first year. The first proper rules were written, by Wills and other members of the club, in 1859. These rules had some similarities to the Sheffield rules, most notably in the absence of an offside rule. However, running with the ball was allowed, and although it was not specified in the rules, an oval ball was used. Australian Rules is sometimes said to be the first form of football to be codified but, as was the case in all kinds of football at the time, there was no official body supporting the rules, and play varied from one club to another.
In 1862 J.C. Thring, who had been one of the driving forces behind the original Cambridge Rules, was now a master at Uppingham School and he issued his own rules in 1862 of what he called "The Simplest Game" (these are also known as the Uppingham Rules). In early October of 1863 a new revised set of Cambridge Rules rules were drawn up by a seven man committee representing former pupils from Harrow, Shrewsbury, Eton, Rugby, Marlborough and Westminster. This later revised version of the Cambridge Rules rules were to form the basis of what eventually became the rules adopted by The Football Association.
The Football Association
On the evening of October 26, 1863 at the Freemason's Tavern in Great Queen Street, London, The Football Association (FA) met for the first time. It was the world's first official football body. The meeti
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