Rules of Harrow Football (1858)

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Harrow Game

1. THE Choice of Bases is determined, in House Matches by tossing; but in the ordinary School Games, that Side has the Choice, on which the Head of the School (or in his absence the Highest in the School present) is playing.

2. The bases are 12 ft. in width, and the distance between them, in House Matches, must not be greater than 150 yds. The width of the ground must not be more than 100 yds.

3. The Ball must be kicked off from the middle of the ground, halfway between the two Bases.

4. If when the ball is kicked, from Hand or otherwise, any one on the same side, but nearer the opposite Base, touches or kicks the Ball, he is said to be Behind, only if one of the opposite Side be between him and the party who kicked the ball. Anyone who is thus Behind is considered as being virtually out of the Game, and must wait till the ball has been touched by one of the opposite side; nor must he interfere with any one of the opposite Side, or in any way prevent or obstruct his catching the Ball.

5. The ball may not be caught off any other part of the Body but the leg below the knee, or foot; but if after being kicked, it hits any other part of the Body, before falling to the ground, it may then be caught.

6. Whoever catches the Ball is entitled to a free kick if he calls Three yards; but whoever catches the Ball, and does not call Three yards, is liable to have it knocked out of his hands.

7. The Ball, when in Play, must never be touched by the hand, except in the case of the Catch, as above stated.

8. All Charging is fair, but neither Holding nor Tripping is allowed.

9. If the Ball is kicked beyond the prescribed limits of the Ground, it must be kicked straight in again; and then must not be touched by the Hands, or Arms below the Elbow.

10. When the Ball goes behind the Line of either of the Bases, it must be kicked straight in (as by Rule 9), and then must not be touched by any one belonging to the Side, behind whose Base it was kicked, until it has been touched by one of the opposite Side.

11. Bases can only be obtained by kicking; but when any one catches the Ball near the opposite Base, he may jump the Three yards and go back to get a free kick; or if he catches it at so short a distance from the Base that he can carry it through by jumping the Three yards, he may do so.

12. All Shinning and Backshinning is strictly prohibited.

13. After a Base has been obtained, the two Sides change their respective Bases.

14. There must always be two Umpires in a House Match.

15. The above Rules should be put up conspicuously in every House at the beginning of every Football Quarter, and new Boys should be required to make themselves thoroughly acquainted with them.


  1. Printed by Crossley and Clarke printers (Harrow). Procured by Graham Curry in December 1999 from Mrs. Rita Gibbs, archivist of Harrow School. Curry writes: "The year 1858 was written by hand in the top right hand corner and, although this might not be seen as exact proof of dating, I feel that there seems little reason to disbelieve its authenticity" Curry, Graham (2001). Football: A Study in Diffusion. Leicester: University of Leicester. p. 16. 

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.