Sheffield Rules (1876)

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Sheffield Rules  (1876) 
by the Sheffield Football Association

Laws of the Sheffield Football Association, adopted at the meeting held at the Adelphi Hotel, February 28th, 1876.[2]


  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, eight 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 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, either by knocking on or throwing, but shall not carry the ball. The goal-keeper may be changed during the game, in which case the umpire shall be informed of the change, 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. 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.


  1. At the meeting of the Sheffield Football Association, held at the Imperial Hotel on April 23, 1877, "[i]t was then formally resolved, ... that the Sheffield Association accept the Clydesdale Amendment and the London Rules". See
  2. Changes from 1875:
    • Law 8: rewrite entire law.
    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, 1926.

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.