Kommentare 2

Comparison: Rulebooks from the beginning of the 1860s

Having now compared the rulebooks from the last years of the 1840s, and the last years of the 1850s, it is now the turn of rulebooks from the early 1860s, i.e. rulebooks that were created at the same time as the FA Rules. These are the Rules of Blackheath Football Club from 1862, the Laws of Eton Field Game from 1862, The Simplest Game (Uppingham School) from 1862, the Rules of Football as played at Shrewsbury School from 1863, the Cambridge University Rules of 1863 and the FA Rules of 1863. Again, I am only comparing rulebooks for football with little or no handball allowed.

A first look – similarities and differences

As in the rulebooks created about five years earlier, all have provisions on handball, illegal play and the scoring of goals, plus the kick and offside.

Here is a look at the individual rules:

Choosing the sides

The side selection is decided by the toss of a coin at Cambridge and at the FA. There are no written stipulations for Blackheath, Eton, Shrewsbury and Uppingham.


The kick-off is mentioned in all six sets of rules and also almost everywhere it is taken by a place kick from the middle of the field, except at Eton. Here there is a scrum at the start. At Uppingham you were not allowed to come within 3.6m of the ball until the kick-off was taken, and at FA no more than 9.15m.

Fair Catch (and Running)

The Fair Catch is known by the rules at Blackheath, Shrewsbury and the FA. It is always the allowed hand play, the allowed catch it of a ball before it has touched the ground. In Blackheath, the rugby-like variation is described: Either making a mark in the ground with the heel and being awarded a free kick at that spot, or running towards the opposition goal carrying the ball, but being able to be tackled in the process. The FA Rules adopted that a mark with the heel was required for the free kick but rejected carrying the ball. Shrewsbury describe nothing of the sort, but note that opposing players must not come within 4.57m of the ball at the ensuing free kick.


Three clubs or schools prohibit all handball (Fair Catch excluded), namely FA, Cambridge University and Blackheath Football Club . The other three, Eton College, Shrewsbury School and Uppingham School is allowed to catch the ball, although it is not clear whether this refers to catching other than fair catch.


The throw-in is also addressed in almost all rulebooks except that of the Shrewsbury School. The rest vary on how, who and where the ball is put back into the field of play.

  • Blackheath FC: Throw by first touch from point of contact,
  • FA: Throw by first touch from sideline parallel to point of contact,
  • Cambridge University: shot by first touch from point of contact,
  • Uppingham School: shot by the one who took ball into touch from the point where the ball went into touch.
  • At Eton College it was still the case that in this case play continued by a scrum opposite the spot where the ball went out.
Foul Play

In most rulebooks, play that is illegal from today’s point of view is not allowed. Even at Blackheath, who withdrew from the FA due to the ban on hacking and running, tackling was also only allowed if the player ran with the ball. The FA and Uppingham School forbid attacking the opponent too hard. The Cambridge University rulebook allows tackling an opponent, but not holding him, pushing him, kicking his shin and tripping him. Only the Eton Field Game and Shrewsbury School allow more. According to both, any attacking with the legs was allowed (but anything with the arms and hands was forbidden).


By now an offside rule was found in all rulebooks. At Blackheath, Cambridge, Shrewsbury and Uppingham, as well as all FA members, the restrictive offside rule applied. Anyone between the ball and the opposing goal was offside. Only at Eton was there already an open offside rule, which made combination play possible, and not as late as 1862: Anyone between the ball and the opposing goal when there were three or fewer opponents in front of him.

Goal scoring

This rule was the same in all six sets of rules: a goal is scored when the ball goes out of bounds between the goalposts. There was no height limit in any rule of those years.

At Shresbury, however, a game was not won by the number of goals alone. Three games were always played here. The best of these three rounds then won the game.


Footwear is specified in the FA Rules and by Blackheath: Nothing may protrude from the shoes so that the risk of injury is kept to a minimum. Incidentally, this prohibition also applied at Rugby School in the 1840s.

Goal dimensions

The goal width, on the other hand, is not given for all of them, only for Cambridge (15 ft = 4.57 m), Eton (7 ft = 2.13 m) and at the FA (8 yd = 7.32 m). They differ significantly.

Field dimensions

Similarly, the pitch dimensions are not always given. However, for those that are given, they do not differ too significantly:

  • Cambridge: 150 x 100 yd (137.16 x 91.44 m)
  • Shrewsbury: 150 x 120 yd (137.16 x 109.73 m)
  • FA: 200 x 100 yd (182.88 x 91.44 m)
Changing of sides

At Cambridge and Eton, sides were changed at half-time, at the FA after every goal.

Corner kick and kick-off

There were different variations here. At Blackheath FC & Uppingham School there was a place kick from the goal line by the team that owned the goal. At Shrewsbury, on the other hand, there was a place kick by the opposing team (place not named) and this was an unopposed shot or a ‚rope kick‘ (throws ball in air and kicks it in the air before it hits the ground).

At Cambridge there was a shot from 25 yd (22.86 m) outside the field of play (not stated who took it) and the FA distinguished who touched the ball first in the goalmouth. If he also owned the goal, there was a place kick from the goalpost nearest to the point of contact. If he belonged to the attacking team, he was given a place kick 15 yd (13.72 m) behind the opposite goal line and the other team was not allowed on the field until the ball had been kicked.

Free kick

A free kick was awarded at Eton for a breach of the rules, and at Cambridge and the FA as a reward for a fair catch. In both the latter, the kick could be taken in any way. At Cambridge, additional care was taken to ensure that all players were at least 9.15m from the ball and that no player was offside. At the FA it was only noted that the person taking the shot would not be obstructed. At Eton, too, there was to be no obstruction.

Play time

Only Eton specifies the playing time, namely 60 minutes.


Only Eton had referees („umpires“), namely one for each team, chosen by that team.


And finally, only the Eton Field Game had guidelines on substitutions. Namely, there were none, regardless of whether the player came late to the game or went out injured.

Kategorie: English


Hi! 👋 Glad you're here and I hope you've found some added value here. If you want to get in touch, feel free to send me an email or on LinkedIn. ♥️🤝 I am happy if you would like to honour my offer and thank you for your donation via Paypal.me. Or invitations for guest articles or for interviews as an expert (See Open for Collaboration). Thank you very much! 

2 Kommentare

  1. Pingback: Vergleich: Regelwerke vom Anfang der 1860er Jahre -

  2. Pingback: Comparioson: Rules and Regulation from 1847 until 1863 -

Schreibe einen Kommentar

Deine E-Mail-Adresse wird nicht veröffentlicht. Erforderliche Felder sind mit * markiert