Description of the Rules of Football as played at Shrewsbury School (1863)

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Description of the rules of football as played at Shrewsbury School  (1863) 

Taken from a November 1863 newspaper article.

The following are the rules of the game as played at Shrewsbury School:—

The football ground at Shrewsbury is 150 yards long and 120 broad, and the goal sticks 40 feet apart.

The game commences with a free kick, the ball being placed rather nearer the goal of the side winning the kick — sometimes between quarter distance and the middle of the ground.

The use of the hands for carrying, throwing, or striking the ball is not allowed.

Players must not stand between the opponents' goal and the ball, nor kick immediately after being in that position.

A player must not kick the ball directly after one of his own side has done so, unless he was behind the player when he kicked it and has run forward; but if it is kicked at right angles to the goals, and he is on a line with the player kicking it, he may do so.

When the ball is kicked to the limits of the field into line with the adversaries' goal, one of the opposite side is entitled to a fair kick either from the ground or a hoist — that is after throwing the ball in the air, to kick it while descending.

Any player catching the ball from the kick of an opponent is entitled to a hoist, or drop kick.

A player may catch the ball from a kick by his own side, if it is kicked at right angles to the goals, and he be on a line with the player kicking it.

Opposing players are not allowed to be within five yards of the ball in case of a fair kick being obtained.

Touching the ball with the hands, except in catching it, is unlawful, as is also running with it in the hands.

A game is won when the ball is kicked through or at any height over, provided it be wholly within the limits of the goal-posts.

If the ball is caught on the rebound it is to be immediately put down again.

Pushing, holding, or striking an opponent with the hands is not allowed.

There is no law against "shinning" or "hacking," but "back shinning" is not permitted.

Matches are ordinarily decided by the best of three games.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1928.

The longest-living author of this work died in 1924, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 98 years or less. This work may 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.