Sheffield Rules

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Sheffield Rules  (1858) 
Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest
a football code played in Sheffield and the north of England. It existed between 1857 and 1878. These are some of the published versions of the rules.

The initial rules were created by Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest. The rules were generally changed on a yearly basis, initially at the Sheffield F.C. AGM the at the Sheffield FA AGM after its establishment. However, some meetings were called to make interim changes. The laws were abandoned in 1878 when the Laws of the Game were adopted.

The early Sheffield Rules were particularly important as their offside system allowed poaching or sneaking and thus demonstrated the benefit of the forward pass: Players known as "kick throughs" were positioned permanently near the opponents goal to receive these balls. According to C.W.Alcock the Sheffield style gave birth to the modern passing game.


Rules of 1858[edit]

Original[edit]

  1. The kick from the middle must be a place kick.
  2. Kick Out must not be more than 25 yards out of goal.
  3. Fair catch is a catch direct from the foot of the opposite side and entitles a free kick.
  4. Charging is fair in case of a place kick (with the exception of a kick off as soon as a player offers to kick) but he may always draw back unless he has actually touched the ball with his foot.
  5. No pushing with the hands is allowed or hacking or tripping up is fair under any circumstances whatever.
  6. Knocking or pushing on the ball is altogether disallowed. The side breaking the rule forfeits a free kick to the opposite side.
  7. No player may be held or pulled over.
  8. It is not lawful to take the ball off the ground (except in touch) for any purpose whatever.
  9. If the ball be bouncing it may be stopped by the hand, not pushed or hit, but if the ball is rolling it may not be stopped except by the foot.
  10. No goal may be kicked from touch, nor by a free kick from a fair catch.
  11. A ball in touch is dead, consequently the side that touches it down must bring it to the edge of the touch and throw it straight out from touch.
  12. Each player must provide himself with a red and dark blue flannel cap, one colour to be worn by each side.

Final revision[edit]

  1. The kick from the middle must be a place kick.
  2. Kick Out must not be more than 25 yards out of goal.
  3. A Fair Catch is a catch from any player provided the ball has not touched the ground or has not been thrown from touch and is entitled to a free-kick.
  4. Charging is fair in case of a place kick (with the exception of a kick off as soon as a player offers to kick) but he may always draw back unless he has actually touched the ball with his foot.
  5. Pushing with the hands is allowed but no hacking or tripping up is fair under any circumstances whatever.
  6. No player may be held or pulled over.
  7. It is not lawful to take the ball off the ground (except in touch) for any purpose whatever.
  8. The ball may be pushed or hit with the hand, but holding the ball except in the case of a free kick is altogether disallowed.
  9. A goal must be kicked but not from touch nor by a free kick from a catch.
  10. A ball in touch is dead, consequently the side that touches it down must bring it to the edge of the touch and throw it straight out from touch.
  11. Each player must provide himself with a red and dark blue flannel cap, one colour to be worn by each side.

Rules of 1862[edit]

  1. The kick from the middle must be a place kick.
  2. Kick Out must not be more than 10 yards out of goal.
  3. A Fair Catch is a catch from any player provided the ball has not touched the ground or has not been thrown from touch and is entitled to a free-kick.
  4. Charging is fair in case of a place kick (with the exception of a kick off as soon as a player offers to kick) but he may always draw back unless he has actually touched the ball with his foot.
  5. Pushing with the hands is allowed but no hacking or tripping up is fair under any circumstances whatsoever.
  6. No player may be held or pulled over.
  7. It is not lawful to take the ball off the ground (except in touch) for any purpose whatever.
  8. Holding the ball (except in the case of a free kick) or knocking or pushing it on with the hand or arm is altogether disallowed.
  9. A goal cannot be obtained by free kick or catch
  10. When the ball is in touch, the side that first touches it must bring it to the edge of the touch at the place where it went in, and throw it straight out at least six yards, and it must touch the ground before it reaches any player.
  11. A rouge is obtained by the player who first touches the ball after it has been kicked between the rouge flags, and when a rouge has been obtained one of the defending side must stand post two yards in front of the goal sticks.
  12. No rouge is obtained when a player who first touches the ball is on the defending side. In that case it is a kick out as specified in law 2.
  13. No player who is behind the line of the goal sticks when the ball is kicked behind, may touch is in any way, either to prevent or obtain a rouge.
  14. A goal outweighs any number of rouges. Should no goals or an equal number be obtained, the match is decided by rouges.
  15. It, in playing a match, half the specified time shall expire without a goal being obtained, the sides shall change goals; the kick off being from the middle, as at the commencement of the game. In practice matches one hour shall be the limit.
  16. In setting out the ground, the goal sticks must be placed 12 feet apart, and the cross bar 9 feet from the ground. The rouge flags must be placed one on each side and in line with the goal, and 12 feet distance from the goal.
  17. Each player must provide himself with a red and dark blue flannel cap, one colour to be worn by each side during play.

N.B. These laws are not intended to define all the Rules of the Game, but only such as are peculiar to the club. There are certain fundamental rules which are observed in all foot-ball games.

Rules of 1871[edit]

  1. The maximum length of the ground shall be 200 yards, and the maximum breadth 100 yards. The length and breadth shall be marked of by flags, and the goals shall be upright posts, eight yards apart with a bar across them, nine feet from the ground.
  2. The winners of the toss shall have the choice of goals. The game shall be commenced by a place kick from the centre of the ground, by the side losing the toss; the opposite side shall not approch within 10 yards of the ball until it is kicked off.
  3. After a goal is scored, the losing side shall kick off, and goals shall be changed; but if, in playing a match, half the specified time shall expire without a goal being obtained, the sides shall change goals, the kick off being in the same direction as the commencement of the game.
  4. A goal shall be scored when the ball passes between the goal posts, under the tape, not being thrown, knocked on, or carried.
  5. When a ball is in touch, a player of the opposite side of that which kicked it out, shall kick it from where it went out, and no player be allowed within six yards of the ball, until kicked. The player who thus kicks the ball, shall not kick it again until it has been kicked by another player.
  6. Any player between the opponent's goal and goalkeeper (unless he has followed the ball there), is off-side and out of play. The Goalkeeper is the player on the defending side, for the time being, is nearest his own goal.
  7. When the ball is kicked over the bar of the goal, it must be kicked off by the side behind whose goal it went, within six yards from the limit of their goal. The side who thus kick the ball are entitled to a fair kick-off in whatever way they please; the opposite side not being allowed to approach within six yards of the ball. When the ball is kicked out behind the goal line, a player of the opposite side to that which kicked it out, shall kick it in from the nearest corner flag. No player to be allowed within six yards of te ball until kicked.
  8. No player shall stop the ball with his hand or arm extended from the body. The side breaking this rule forfeits a free kick to the opposite side, and the offending side shall not approach within six yards of the kicker; but nothing in this rule shall extend to drive them to stand behind their goal line. The defending side shall be exempt from this rule, within three yards of the goal.
  9. No goal shall be obtained by a free kick.
  10. Neither tripping nor hacking shall be allowed, and no player shall use his hands to hold or push his adversary, nor charge him from behind. Any player so offending, shall forfeit a free kick to the opposite side.
  11. No player shall wear spikes, projecting nails, or iron plates on the soles or heels of his boots.
  12. An umpire shall be appointed by each side, at the commencement of the game, to enforce the preceding rules, whose decision on all points during the game shall be final. And they shall be the sole judges of fair and unfair play, and have power to give a pnalty for foul play of any kind. Each umpire to be referee in that half of the field nearest the goal defended by the party nominating him.

Definitions of terms[edit]

  • A 'Place Kick' is a kick at the ball while it is on the ground, in any position in which the kicker may choose to place it.
  • A 'Free Kick' is the privilege of kicking at the ball without obstruction, in such manner as the kicker may think fit.
  • 'Hacking' is kicking an adversary intentionally.
  • 'Tripping' is throwing an adversary by the use of his legs.
  • 'Knocking on' is when a player strikes or propels the ball with his hand or arm.
  • 'Holding' includes the obstuction of a player by the hand, or any part of the arm below the elbow.
  • 'Touch' is that part of the field outside the lines of flags.
  • 'Handling' is playing the ball with the hand or arm.

Definition of rule 9[edit]

In the case of a free kick near the goal, any of the defending side stopping or attempting to stop the ball intentionally, it shall be considered to be played and not fouled.

Rules of 1875[edit]

  1. The maximum length of the ground shall be 200 yards, and the maximum breadth 100 yards. The length and breadth shall be marked of by flags, and the goals shall be upright posts, eight yards apart with a bar across them, nine feet from the ground.
  2. The winners of the toss shall have the choice of goals. The game shall be commenced by a place kick from the centre of the ground, by the side losing the toss; the opposite side shall not approch within 10 yards of the ball until it is kicked off, nor shall any player on either side past the centre of the ground in the direction of his opponents' goal until the ball is kicked.
  3. Ends shall only be changed at half time. After a goal is won, the losing side shall kick-off, but after the change of ends at half-time the ball shall be kicked off by the opposite side from that which originally did so, and always provided in law 2.
  4. A goal shall be won when the ball passes between the goal posts, under the bar, not being thrown, knocked on, or carried.
  5. When a ball is in touch, a player of the opposite side of that which kicked it out, shall kick it from where it went out, and no player be allowed within six yards of the ball, until kicked. The player who thus kicks the ball, shall not kick it again until it has been kicked by another player.
  6. Any player between the opponent's goal and goalkeeper (unless he has followed the ball there), is off-side and out of play. The Goalkeeper is the player on the defending side, for the time being, is nearest his own goal.
  7. When the ball is kicked over the bar of the goal, it must be kicked off by the side behind whose goal it went, within six yards from the limit of their goal. The side who thus kick the ball are entitled to a fair kick-off in whatever way they please; the opposite side not being allowed to approach within six yards of the ball. When the ball is kicked out behind the goal line, a player of the opposite side to that which kicked it out, shall kick it in from the nearest corner flag. No player to be allowed within six yards of te ball until kicked.
  8. No player, except the goalkeeper, shall stop the ball with his hand or arm extended from the body. The side breaking this rule forfeits a free kick to the opposite side, and the offending side shall not approach within six yards of the kicker; but nothing in this rule shall extend to drive them to stand behind their goal line. The defending side shall be exempt from this rule, within three yards of the goal.
  9. No goal shall be obtained by a free kick.
  10. Neither tripping nor hacking shall be allowed, and no player shall use his hands to hold or push his adversary, nor charge him from behind. Any player so offending, shall forfeit a free kick to the opposite side.
  11. No player shall wear spikes, projecting nails, or iron plates on the soles or heels of his boots. Any player so offending shall be considered out of play so long as the infringement continues, and no other player shall take his place.
  12. An umpire shall be appointed by each side, at the commencement of the game, to enforce the preceding rules, whose decision on all points during the game shall be final. And they shall be the sole judges of fair and unfair play, and have power to give a pnalty for foul play of any kind. Each umpire to be referee in that half of the field nearest the goal defended by the party nominating him. Each umpire to be referee in that half of the field nearest the goal defended by the party nominating him, and to be supplied with a small flag, or other conspicuous article, with which he can draw attention, the ball always being considered in play until he has given his decision.

Definitions of terms[edit]

  • A 'Place Kick' is a kick at the ball while it is on the ground, in any position in which the kicker may choose to place it.
  • A 'Free Kick' is the privilege of kicking at the ball without obstruction, in such manner as the kicker may think fit.
  • 'Hacking' is kicking an adversary intentionally.
  • 'Tripping' is throwing an adversary by the use of his legs.
  • 'Knocking on' is when a player strikes or propels the ball with his hand or arm.
  • 'Holding' includes the obstuction of a player by the hand, or any part of the arm below the elbow.
  • 'Touch' is that part of the field outside the lines of flags.
  • 'Handling' is playing the ball with the hand or arm.

Definition of rule 9[edit]

In the case of a free kick near the goal, any of the defending side stopping or attempting to stop the ball intentionally, it shall be considered to be played and not fouled.

This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.