Laws of the Game (1874)

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For works with similar titles, see Laws of the Game.

The Laws of the Game[edit]

1. The maximum length of the ground shall be 200 yards; the maximum breadth shall be 100 yards; the length and breadth shall be marked off with flags; and the goals shall be upright posts, 8 yards apart, with a tape across them, 8 feet from the ground.

2. The winners of the toss shall have the option of kick off or choice of goals. The game shall be commenced by a place-kick from the centre of the ground; the other side shall not approach within ten yards of the ball until it is kicked off, nor shall any player on either side pass the centre of the ground in the direction of his opponents' goal until the ball is kicked off.

3. After a goal is won ends shall be changed, and the losing side shall kick off. In the event, however, of no goal having fallen to either side at the lapse of half the allotted time, ends shall then be changed. After the change of ends at half-time, ends shall not again be changed. After the change of ends at half-time the same side as originally kicked off shall kick off as provided in the second part of Rule II.

4. A goal shall be won when the ball passes between the goal posts under the tape, not being thrown, knocked on, or carried. The ball hitting one or other of the goal or boundary posts and rebounding into play, is considered in play.

5. When the ball is in touch, a player of the opposite side to that which has kicked it out shall throw it from the point on the boundary line where it left the ground, in a direction at right angles with the boundary line, at least six yards, and it shall not be in play until it has touched the ground, and the player throwing it in shall not play it until it has been played by another player.

6. When a player kicks the ball, any one of the same side who, at such moment of kicking, is nearer to the opponents' goal-line is out of play, and may not touch the ball himself, nor in any way whatever prevent any other player from doing so, until the ball has been played, unless there are at least three of his opponents nearer their own goal-line; but no player is out of play when the ball is kicked from the goal line.

7. When the ball is kicked behind the goal-line by one of the opposite side, it shall be kicked off by any one of the players behind whose goal line it went, within six yards of the nearest goal post; but if kicked behind by any one of the side whose goal line it is, a player of the opposite side shall kick it from within one yard of the nearest corner flag-post. In either case no other player shall be allowed within six yards of the ball until kicked off.

8. No player shall carry or knock on the ball; and handling the ball, under any pretence whatever, shall be prohibited, except in the case of the goal-keeper, who shall be allowed to use his hands in defence of his goal, but shall not carry the ball. The goal-keeper may be changed during the game, but not more than one player shall act as goal-keeper at the same time, and no second player shall step in and act during any period in which the regular goal-keeper may have vacated his position.

9. 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.

10. No player shall wear any nails, excepting such as have their heads driven in flush with the leather, iron plates, or gutta-percha, on the soles or heels of his boots.

11. In the event of any infringement of Rules VI., VIII., or IX., a free kick shall be forfeited to the opposite side from the spot where the infringement took place, but in no case shall a goal be scored from such free kick, nor shall the ball be again played by the kicker until it shall have been kicked by some other player.

12. In the event of any infringement of Rule X., the Umpire, upon an appeal by the Captain of the opposite side, shall rule the player so offending out of play so long as the infringement continues, and no other player shall take his place.

Mem. — Handling is understood to be playing the ball with the hand or arm.

Definition of Terms[edit]

A Place Kick is a kick at the ball while on the ground, in any position which the kicker may choose to place it.

Hacking is kicking an adversary intentionally.

Tripping is throwing an adversary by the use of the legs.

Knocking on is when a player strikes or propels the ball with his hands or arms.

Holding includes the obstruction of a player by the hand or any part of the arm below the elbow.

Touch is that part of the field, on either side of the ground, which is beyond the line of flags.

A Free Kick is a kick at the ball in any way the kicker pleases, when it is lying on the ground; none of the kicker's opponents being allowed within six yards of the ball, but in no case can a player be forced to stand behind his own goal-line.

Notes[edit]

  1. Changes from 1873:
    • Law 2: append "nor shall any player on either side pass the centre of the ground in the direction of his opponents' goal until the ball is kicked off" (proposed by Harrow Chequers).
    • Law 3: append "After the change of ends at half-time, the same side as originally kicked off shall kick off as provided in the second part of Rule II" (proposed by Harrow Chequers).
    • Law 7: replace "shall kick it from the nearest corner flag post" with "shall kick it from within one yard of the nearest corner flag post" (proposed by Harrow Chequers).
    • Law 8: after "who shall be allowed to use his hands" insert "in defence of his goal" (proposed by Harrow Chequers).
    • Law 8: append "The goal-keeper may be changed during the game, but not more than one player shall act as goal-keeper at the same time, and no second player shall step in and act during any period in which the regular goal-keeper may have vacated his position" (proposed by Maidenhead FC).
    • Law 8: Last sentence deleted to become new Law 11 (proposed by Harrow Chequers).
    • New law 11 (old law 8): replace "In the event of an infringement of this rule" with "In the event of any infringement of Rules VI., VIII., or IX." (proposed by Harrow Chequers).
    • New law 11 (old law 8): append "nor shall the ball be again played by the kicker until it shall have been kicked by some other player" (proposed by Harrow Chequers).
    A new rule (itself proposed by Harrow Chequers) was adopted that the new Laws of the Game would not come into effect until the start of the following season. For more information, see


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1924.


The author died in 1924, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.