Sheffield Rules (1868)

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For works with similar titles, see Sheffield Rules.

Rules[edit]

1. The maximum length of ground shall be 200 yards, the maximum breadth 100 yards. The length and breadth shall be marked off with 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 other side shall not approach within ten yards of the ball until it is kicked off.

3. After a goal is won, 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 from the middle, in the same direction as at the commencement of the game.

4. A goal shall be won when the ball passes between the goal posts, under the tape, not being thrown, knocked on, or carried.

5. When the ball is in touch, a player of the opposite side to that which kicked it out shall kick it in from where it went out; and no player be allowed within six yards of the ball, until kicked.

6. Any player between opponent’s goal and goal keeper (unless he has followed the ball there), is off-side and out of play. The goal keeper is that player on the defending side who, for time being, is nearest to 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 behind the goal line, a player of the opposite side to that which kicked it out, shall kick it it in from the nearest corner-flag; no player to be allowed within six yards of the ball until kicked.

8. No player shall hold, carry, or knock the ball, or push it on with his hand or arm. The side breaking this rule forfeits a free kick to the opposite side, and the offending side shall not approach within three yards of the kicker, but nothing in this rule shall extend to drive them to stand behind their goal line.

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. Any player so offending, shall forfeit a free kick to the opposite side.

11. A player shall not throw the ball, or pass it to another player.

12. No player shall take the ball from the ground with his hands, whilst it is in play, under any pretence whatever, except in case of a fair catch, which entitles him to a free kick, in the same way as that for a penalty.

13. No player shall wear spikes, projecting nails, or iron plates, on the soles or heels of his boots.

14. 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. Each umpire to be referee in that half of the field nearest the goal defended by the party nominating him.

Definition 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 obstruction 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.

A "Fair Catch" is when the ball is caught before reaching the ground, after touching any portion of a player's person or clothing.

Notes[edit]

  1. Changes from October 1867:
    • Law 1: replace "the length and breadth shall be marked off with rouge flags" with "the length and breadth shall be marked off with flags" (proposed by Mechanics' FC).
    • Law 1: replace "the goals shall be upright posts, four yards apart" with "the goals shall be upright posts, eight yards apart" (proposed by Mechanics' FC).
    • Law 1: delete "and two flags to be called the rouge flags shall placed one on each side, and in a line with the goal, and four yards distant from it, with bar across them nine feet from the ground" (proposed by Mechanics' FC).
    • Law 5: replace entire text with new law (proposed by Norfolk FC).
    • Law 7: delete "or rouge flags".
    • Law 7: delete "In case the ball is kicked between the rouge flags under the bar, the side kicking it shall be entitled to score one rouge, and the ball shall be kicked off by the defending side as before mentioned".
    • Law 7: replace "When the ball is kicked behind the goal line, the opposite side to that which kicked it out shall throw it in from where it went out at least ten yards towards the other goal" with "When the ball is kicked behind the goal line, a player of the opposite side to that which kicked it out, shall kick it it in from the nearest corner-flag; no player to be allowed within six yards of the ball until kicked" (proposed by Norfolk FC).
    • Old law 8: delete law.
    • Old law 9 / new law 8: replace "No player shall hold or carry the ball, or knock or push it on with the hand or arm" with "No player shall hold, carry, or knock the ball, or push it on with his hand or arm".
    • Old law 10 / new law 9: replace "No goal or rouge shall be obtained by a free kick from a penalty" with "No goal shall be obtained by a free kick" (proposed by Fir Vale FC).
    • Old law 11 / new law 10: append "Any player so offending, shall forfeit a free kick to the opposite side" (proposed by Pitsmoor FC).
    • Old law 12 / new law 11: replace "another" with "another player".
    • Old law 13 / new law 12: append "except in case of a fair catch, which entitles him to a free kick, in the same way as that for a penalty" (proposed by Fir Vale FC).
    • New law 14: add new law (proposed by Fir Vale FC).
    • Definition of Touch: replace "on either side of the ground which is beyond the line of flags" with "outside the lines of flags".
    • Definition of Fair Catch: add new definition (proposed by Fir Vale FC).
    For more information see (Wikisource contributor note)


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.